With its fancy name, Persian Fairy Floss is sure to make some people tilt their heads in inquiry and immediately search whether they really are made of fairy stuff or not. What most people don’t know is that it is Iran’s candied delicacy similar to the popular cotton candy. While the cotton candy has been a beloved sweet treat typically sold during festivals and carnivals, Persian fairy floss is a traditional Iranian sweet locally known as Pashmak which translates to “like wool”. But it resembles nothing like the mouthfeel of wool since this melt-in-your-mouth sweet is a beloved delicacy that is hard to come by.
How is it made?
Believed to have originated in the city of Yazd in Iran, the making of pashmak or Persian fairy floss was produced by home cooks manually. It was only recently that the making of Persian fairy floss became widely factory produced. Unlike your run-of-the-mill cotton candy which is made of melted sugar mechanically spun incredibly fast to produce extremely thin strands of sugary cloud, Persian fairy floss includes more than sugar.
This traditional delight is made of flour, butter, and sugar. It is prepared by roasting flour in butter to create the dough. The dough is then combined with caramelized sugar that has cooled and become chewy similar to taffy. As it cools, the taffy-like mixture is stretched, pulled, and twisted with precision. It is mixed and stretched alternately by hand and by machine, until fine, delicate pashmak strands start to form. The final product must look and feel wispy-thin and fluffy. Persian fairy floss must be handled delicately since its strands are very easy to disintegrate and melt.
Another thing that sets Persian fairy floss from typical cotton candy is that it can occasionally have some added flavouring and garnishing. Usually, pashmak is flavoured with sesame, rose water, cardamom, orange blossom, saffron, vanilla, or pistachio. Unlike cotton candy, pashmak is denser and heavier and is sometimes referred to as angel’s hair. It also closely resembles unspun silk due to it being hand-pulled.
How do you use it?
While it can be certainly enjoyed on its own as a sweet snack, Persian fairy floss is also a favourite as a garnish and addition to some desserts and beverages. It is often served on top of cakes, ice creams, puddings, and other baked treats. It is also used as a garnish in drinks like champagne, sparkling water, and cocktails.
It is advised that Persian fairy floss be consumed immediately once it has been taken out of its packaging because of its delicate nature. It easily melts and the strands are very light. Keep an eye out since it’s easy to make a mess when using and eating pashmak. While it is locally known as pashmak, this delicate Iranian delicacy is marketed around the world as Persian fairy floss. It is possible to get your hands on Persian fairy floss since it can be found on international supermarkets around the world.