**Before you go on to read this Instructable, please note that it includes several mini-projects. I apologize if it seems, at times, disjointed but, frankly, I'm experimenting as I go along.**
Of all of the candies mentioned in the Harry Potter series, none have I ever wanted more. Of all of those available at the Wizarding World theme park, none was a bigger disappointment. The most coveted, among myself and my nerdiest of friends, Honeydukes product has always been the Sugar Quill.
At the Wizarding World, you pay $3.95 for a chunky, feather-shaped lollipop.
I figured that I could do better.
This Instructable shows you the two different types of sugar quills that I came up with, as well as including bonus recipes for edible ink and parchment (rice paper) to complete the set and give you a real, tasty, and functioning sugar quill.
NOTE: It's not terribly practical, and attempting to mass-produce it may drive you to the brink of madness.
Step 1: Materials
We're going to break it down into parts. The first bits of the 'Ible will show you how to make the Ink and Paper, and the next bits will detail the making of each sugar quill, out of the (mostly) same base materials.
Materials for Ink:
Water-based beverage of choice (a dark fruit juice is recommended, like grape or, as I used, pomegranate)
Saucepan with Lid
Bag of frozen vegetables
Small container (optional)
Materials for Edible Parchment (Rice Paper):
Stock Pot with Lid
Rice Flour (glutinous works best if you can get it)
Measuring Cup and Spoons
Wooden Floral Hoop (or a Quilting Hoop), the same size of larger than your stockpot
Something to attach the cheesecloth to the wooden hoop (unless you actually use a quilting hoop)
Materials for Sugar Quills:
Light Corn Syrup
More plastic wrap
Knife and other shaping tools (you'll see)
Parchment or Wax Paper, or a Silicone Baking Liner
An actual calligraphy pen with removable tips1
Sugru (or food-grade silicone if you can get it/are that concerned)1
1 Denotes something that I used in addition to the first attempt, in order to produce the second
Step 2: Edible Ink
Measure out 1 cup of your beverage of choice and pour it into your saucepan. Cover it and set your over to medium-high heat, bringing the liquid to a boil. Remove the lid and reduce the heat so that the liquid is still at a constant boil. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally with the wooden spoon until you've reduced your initial amount to about 2 tablespoons worth of liquid. Remove from heat and pour the goop into your microwave-safe bowl, and then place it on a bag of frozen vegetables, in the refrigerator until it is cool. Once that's done, you can transfer it to your clean inkwell or tiny bottle and refrigerate it until you're ready to use it. If you don't have an extra container, just store it in the microwave-safe bowl, in the 'fridge, with the plastic wrap covering it.
NOTE: Don't let it get too syrupy, and remember that just after syrupy lies burnt!
Step 3: Edible (Rice) Paper
Fill your stockpot about halfway with water and set to boil. Take your cheesecloth and stretch it as tightly as possible over your wooden hoop. A quilting hoop does work best, but some of us try to be more economical. As such, I used this only-$2-at-Michaels wooden floral arranging hoop and stuck the cheesecloth onto it by securing brass brads through the pre-drilled holes.
Measure out 1/4 cup of rice floor and slowly add water to it, a teaspoon at a time, until you get a pour-able consistency, around that of Elmer's glue. For 1/4 cup, I ended up using 10 teaspoons of water, plus I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract to give it that aged paper colour.
When the water comes to a boil, place your stretched-tight cheesecloth on top of your stockpot and spread the thinnest possible layer of your mixture on top of it. Cover with the stockpot's lid and let the rice paper steam for 2-3 minutes. Remove the hoop from heat and transfer the rice paper to a cooling rack, if you're awesome enough to have one. I however am not, and am letting it cool on some aluminum foil, which will make it dry oddly and curl and be terrible, but c'est la vie. Traditionally a rolling pin is used to roll it off of the cheesecloth and onto a cooling rack, but I have no idea how that works.
Let it dry for 12 hours/overnight.
Step 4: Sugar Quill - Making Hard Candy
For the quills themselves, we start out by making hard candy. Once again, laziness prevails and I opt to use the microwave for this task.
Measure out 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of corn syrup and mix them together in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and nuke for 3:15, more or less, depending on the power of your microwave oven. Remove, discard plastic wrap, stir with silicone spatula, and nuke again for another 3 minutes-ish. Once again, take the bowl out (carefully!), remove and discard the plastic wrap, and give it another quick stir to make certain that the whole mess is all melted and thoroughly combined. If you wish to add any flavourings or colourings, here is where you will do it, although you should wait a moment and exercise caution as liquid additives are likely to boil violently when you first add them.
If you have a circular silicone mold, awesome. Pour some of the sugar into the mold and let it cool to a workable temperature. If you don't, then let it cool in the bowl for a few minutes and then pour some into a disc-like shape on your parchment/waxpaper/silicone liner, and let it cool to a workable temperature that way.
If you let it cool to the point that it hardens, just nuke it again in 30-second intervals until it's soft enough to be handled but cool enough not to burn you.
Step 5: Quill the First - Sculpting Sugar
Take a chunk of sugar and roll it into a ball in your hands. Then press that ball against your lined work surface and roll it out into a lone, thin cylinder. This will be the shaft of your quill. Now pinch off small bits of candy and use your fingers to make them long and flat, and begin attaching them to shaft at the end furthest from where your quill tip will be. Continue doing this until you've got a nice, full-looking feather.
At the other end, pinch the ends of your quill and flatten the tip to create a point. Cut it into a triangle and use a knife/toothpick/whatever to create the grooves and holes and reserves of a normal quill pen.
Pop it in the freezer for a couple of minutes and allow it to set and harden before attempting to use it.
Step 6: Quill the Second - Fluffy Like a Dragon's Beard
Although it turned out very cute and quite delicious, I was unsatisfied with the appearance of the first quill attempt. I wanted something fluffier, more reminiscent of an actual feather. Plus better at writing, while I was at it. After seeing this Instructable for Dragon's Beard Candy, I was sure that I'd had it.
Starting with one of our sugar discs at workable temperature (you remember, from step 4 of this 'Ible), poke a hole in the centre with your thumb and stretch it out. Be careful as the candy seems prone to tearing if you just have at it; instead, take it slow and gently pull the candy into a larger ring. Following the method in the above-mentioned Instructable, we pull and twist and pull and twist, dipping the strands of sugar in either corn starch or rice flour to prevent them from sticking together.
Make 2 shafts of candy like we did for the first version, but make them half of the thickness and let them flatten somewhat agianst your work surface as they begin to cool.
Tear the strands into pieces about 3 inches long and place them, centred, along the upturned-and-flat side of one of your newly made half-shafts place the other half-shaft on top and smooth them together with your fingers. Spread the flour or starch-coated candy strings in the direction opposite the writing tip, into a nice, proper feather shape.
Your feather is done, but now we need a tip to write with.
Step 7: Quill the Second - Edible Quill Tip
This is something that you'll want to have done ahead of time, just because waiting a day to continue with the next part...? It's painful.
Take 1 little packet's worth of Sugru and form a cube. Take your actual calligraphy pen, with an actual tip, and stick it into the cube until the tip and inkwell are submerged.
Let it cure overnight.
The next day, come back and pry out your quill and it's tip. Melt some of your candy in the microwave again and pour it into the mold, tapping the sides to release any bubbles. Pop it into the freezer until it hardens.
Be careful and remove it from the mold. You now have a candy quill tip/shank!
Step 8: Quill the Second - Fire Is Our Friend
Come back to your work area and bring together your tip and your feather bit. How will we attach these? Easy; we just melt one end of each bit and stick them together. Using whatever fire source you'd like, whether it be a match, candle, or very delicately used blowtorch, melt the very tips and smoosh them together, placing them in the freezer to ensure quick cooling.
Inspect you final product. Is it awesome?
Step 9: Look Thoughtful, Write Notes, and Enjoy!
Comparing the two final products, I do have to say that the second is much cooler. Now you can dip your quill into your ink and write messages on your parchment. This is especially useful for secret messages that you may need to destroy after reading.
My take on the product still isn't perfect, I know, but I think it's a heck of a lot better than a $4 sucker.
Thanks for reading!