Making pulled sugar decorations is an advanced technique once relegated to professional pastry chefs, because the equipment needed simply wasn't available to home decorators until the 1990s. You can do it at home now, but it is still a technique that requires experience and care.
Place the measuring cup in the oven set to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. This will heat the glass, preventing it from shattering later when you pour hot sugar syrup into the measuring cup.
Mix 1/4 teaspoon per cup of sugar in a mixing bowl. Set the bowl aside.
Combine 1/2 cup of water and 1/3 cup of light corn syrup per cup of sugar in a large stainless steel pot over a burner set to medium heat. Add the sugar mixture and stir to combine the mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil then insert the candy thermometer.
Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool to 275 F. Stir in the food coloring and flavoring, if you are using them, then pour the boiling syrup into the heated measuring cup. Return the measuring cup with the syrup to the heated oven for 5 to 7 minutes to allow any air bubbles to pop.
Pour the sugar syrup onto a silicon mat. Use a silicon spatula to quickly fold the edges over the puddle of syrup to prevent it from running off the edges. Continue to fold the edges of the syrup into the middle to evenly cool the sugar.
As soon as the sugar is cool enough to touch, use gloved hands to stretch it, pulling the ends apart and twisting.
Bring the ends together, then stretch and twist again. Continue pulling the sugar until it takes on an opaque satiny shine.
Place the sugar under a heat lamp to keep it from cooling too fast, especially if you need to pull it in batches.
Once you've pulled the sugar to a workable consistency, it's time to get creative. You can make just about anything you can imagine out of pulled sugar, but there are a few traditional shapes that pastry chefs tend to incorporate into their designs.