Isomalt is amazing medium that allows bakers and cakers with all skill levels to create beautiful clear sugar art for cakes, cupcakes and other desserts. Isomalt may not be as well known by home bakers, so on this blog post we will discuss all things isomalt – what it is, how to use it, where to buy it and so on.
What is Isomalt
Isomalt is a sugar free sweetener discovered during the 1960s. Isomalt is white in colour, crystalline and odourless. It is extremely stable sugar substitute that has many different uses in food industries. Besides being awesome in cake decorating world, isomalt is also key ingredient in many factory-produced foods like hard candies, chewing gum, chocolates, sugar free drinks and more. Products that are made with isomalt are often comparably as sweet as sugar and have the same texture and consistency as well.
Isomalt is also gaining more and more popularity due to the recent low carb and keto diet movement. It is technically derived from sugar, but has a much lower calorie and carbohydrate count, while still being heat stable for baking and cooking. Since isomalt has little effect on blood sugar levels it is low carb and keto diet friendly sugar alternative.
What Does Isomalt Taste Like
Obviously, it tastes sweet like sugar, but has only about 65% of the sweetness of sugar, so it is often used together with other sweeteners. Unlike other sugar substitutes, isomalt does not have aftertaste nor does it affect the food flavours.
Can You Eat Isomalt
We do get this question quite a lot, and reading above, one would think that there is no question – obviously you can eat isomalt. In reality it is not that simple. Isomalt it is made out of beet sugar and while it is safe to eat, you wouldn’t want to do it in large quantities. Like most sugar alcohols, isomalt carries a risk of gastric distress, that includes stomach cramps and diarrhea. That said, it is totally fine to eat small quantities of isomalt, just don’t forget yourself with the lolly bag as you will regret it later.
How to Use Isomalt
As isomalt comes in white crystalline form, it needs to be melted down, in order to use it, very similar how you would use normal sugar. You can melt it down in a microwave or on a stovetop. Different from a sugar, isomalt won’t caramelize nor change the colour, when heated to high temperatures. This makes it excellent product to use, to create design elements for your bakings, that need to have a clear colour. It also stands up to humidity better than sugar, so it really is a great choice to use as a decoration.
Also, when you heat normal sugar to work with it, it can crystallize in the pan, and become unusable. Isomalt is very forgiving. As long as you don’t burn it, you can melt down isomalt and reuse it again and again. Melted isomalt can be sculpted, pulled, blown or moulded into pretty much any shape you might need.
How to Use Isomalt in Moulds
It is very important to use moulds that can withstand very high heat. So, avoid using plastic moulds, that can melt under the heat. The best moulds to use for creating isomalt decorations are the silicone moulds, that can be used with high heat.
Before pouring the melted isomalt in the silicone mould, make sure you spray your mould with spray oil, as it may stick to the mould otherwise, and ruin all your hard work. Pour the isomalt into the mould and wait until the isomalt is cool and pop the design out of the mould.
Can You Flavour and Colour Isomalt
Yes, you sure can do both. For the flavouring, you would want to use oil-based candy flavours. We stock wide range of Lorann concentrated candy oils as well as Robert’s Edible Craft oil flavouring, both that are suitable for flavouring isomalt. To colour isomalt, you can use gel, liquid or powdered food colours.
Both, flavouring and colouring, should happen during the melting part. The only exception would be glitter spray food colouring, that you would use on isomalt, once it’s been shaped, so the colour will stick to the ready-made decoration.
Safety When Working with Isomalt
You must take extra care when working with melted isomalt to avoid burns. Melted isomalt is very hot (close to 165 degrees Celsius), sticky and hard to remove when it’s hot, it’s not something you want stuck to your skin. Wearing one to three pairs of heavy-duty rubber gloves is essential, especially when you’re planning to make some pulled decorations, and work with your hands. It’s also a good idea to wear long sleeves, just for extra precaution. In the event of getting isomalt on your hands, quickly peel off the gloves and put your hands in the ice water to cool the affected area.
How to Store Isomalt Decorations
You can easily make isomalt decorations well ahead, but there are couple of things to keep in mind.
Completed isomalt cake decorations should be stored in airtight container with a packet of dehumidifier to absorb moisture. Humidity can turn your isomalt pieces cloudy and sticky, which will ruin the clear sparkly effect you probably wish to achieve.
Where to Buy Isomalt
Isomalt isn’t something that you would find from your local supermarket, but it is something that most of the well-stocked cake supply store should have it in stock. If you don’t have cake or baking supply store nearby, have a look on online, as you would surely find an online store that sells it as well.
Some of the brands, like Cake Craft, also offer already coloured isomalt, so you’ll have one step less to do, when creating your isomalt decorations.
Tools for Working with Isomalt
To work with isomalt you will need a few tools. Depends on how you’re planning to use the isomalt, not all of the tools are always necessary. Most of the items that you might need, can be found at the supermarkets.
Silicone bowl – silicone bowls are excellent, as they can hold the heat from the melted isomalt, without breaking/melting.
Silicone mat – Silicone is heat resistant so the melted isomalt won’t stick to it, nor will ruin it. Silicone mat is necessary when you’re not going to use silicone moulds for the decorations, but are pulling or blowing the isomalt instead.
Gloves – Heavy duty rubber or silicone gloves are an absolute must, for your own safety. No melting process should start, before you have the gloves on, as you might get some serious burns otherwise.
Edible food colouring – this is very much optional but can be great for adding colour to the isomalt. You can also buy pre coloured isomalt, but colours might be limited.
Candy flavouring – again not essential, especially when the decorations won’t be consumed. If you’re making isomalt lollipops though, it would be great to have some different flavours to them.
Blow torch – Blow torch is very effective when you need to clear up the bubbles on the surface of the isomalt. Also, great tool to have, when you need to glue different isomalt pieces together, as you can reheat parts of the pieces.
Silicone moulds – silicone moulds are great to make different isomalt decorations. They come in endless number of different designs and sizes to choose from, something for every theme of the cake.
Some of the Most Popular Isomalt Things to Make
Edible diamonds and crystals – We stock wide range of edible jewel moulds, all that are suitable to make your own, shiny isomalt gems. Since geode cakes are still so popular, it’s awesome that you can make your own edible geodes for your next celebration cake.
Pulled sugar flowers –Isomalt pulling can be intimidating. It’s hot and fragile, and can be tricky to master, but the results are breathtaking. Well worth the practice, so you can wow your guests or clients next time.
Isomalt sails – this is definitely a new and hot cake decorating method, that’s here to stay. Isomalt sails are super easy to make, yet they look absolutely amazing, and will give your cake very professional look.
Blown sugar bubbles – you can create some super cool, cake creations with blown isomalt bubbles. It does require little bit of equipment, technique and patience as well, but these cute isomalt bubbles are so worth it.
Couple Fun Isomalt Facts
Isomalt does not cause tooth decay like normal sugar does! That’s right, one of the cool things about isomalt is, that even though it’s derived from sugar, it actually has no corrosive effects on our teeth and gums.
Isomalt can help with a weight loss being low carb and low-calorie option. Isomalt is roughly only half of the calories per serving compared to normal sugar.
This makes isomalt a great option for those who would like to cut down on sugar for both weight loss and dental reasons.
Tutorial – How to Make Isomalt Sail Cake Topper
Isomalt sails are super easy to make, and they will give you great effect on your cakes. You will only need couple of tools, and littlebit of patience.
Tools for Making Isomalt Sail
- Measuring cup
- Heat proof saucepan
- Silicone spatula
- 1-2 silicone mats
- Bottle, jar, glass or anything tall to form your isomalt sail
- Clothes pegs
Steps to Make Isomalt Sail
- Place isomalt crystals in a nonstick or steel saucepan. You will need about 2/3 – 1 cup of isomalt, depends on a size of the sail you’d like to make.
- Heat isomalt crystals on a medium heat, gently stir every now and then, with a silicone spatula, or a spoon.
- Once all the isomalt has melted and there is no white residue left, you’re ready to start making your isomalt sail. At this point the isomalt will be close the 160 degrees Celsius, so be super careful and do NOT touch it.
- Pour the melted isomalt on a silicone mat and start slightly tilting the mat, don’t place it on the bottle just yet. Straight from the heat, isomalt is very runny, and if placed on the bottle too early, most of it will just run off. You want your isomalt in lava kind of consistency, before you place it on the bottle.
- Place the bottle on the second silicone mat, to protect your kitchen bench, as some of the hot isomalt, may drip all the way down on the bench. Then place the silicone mat with the melted isomalt, on top of the bottle. Gently crimp the silicone baking mat with the clothes pegs, to shape the isomalt while it’s setting.
Let the isomalt sail sit and harden on the bottles for about 30 minutes, before gently removing it from the silicone mat. If you’re trying to remove the sail too early, chances are that you will break it, so don’t rush this step. If you should break the sail, you can remelt the same isomalt again, start over and follow all the steps again.
And voila you’ve just made amazing looking isomalt sail!!
If a simple clear sail is too boring, and let’s face it, it really is, you can use couple of different ways, to make it look bit fancier.
- While you’re melting your isomalt, you can add some food colouring, to change the colour of it, to match your cake.
- You can also add some food colouring once you’ve poured the isomalt on the silicone mat. Grab a toothpick, and gently swirl the colour around the melted isomalt, greating a marbled effect.
- Or you can do what we did and paint the edges of the sail with some edible metallic colours, to give it super lux look.
We used Creative Cake Decorating Dior gold metallic dust this time. We mixed it with some rose spirit, and made our own edible gold paint. Rest is pretty simple, you just paint all or some parts of the isomalt sail edges, until you’re happy with the end result.
You can place the sail on top of the cake, as is, or fill it with some cookies, macarons, or pretty much anything you fancy and that will compliment your cake.
There you go. By now, you know all about isomalt and you’ve also made your very own edible isomalt cake topper. Next time try to make some isomalt gems or geodes 😉