Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Honeycomb Toffee – Do the Hokey Pokey

This very easy to make candy goes by many names; cinder toffee, sponge candy, and my personal favorite, “hokey pokey,” but no matter what you call it, this eye-catching confection is a proven crowd-pleaser. And, that’s before you dip in in chocolate, as my British friends highly recommend.

It’s no big secret that people love sweet, crispy things, but this also features the most interesting melt-in-your-mouth texture, which is created by thousands of bubbles, trapped in the cooling sugar syrup. As you can see in the video, I did two batches with different amounts of baking soda, and while the second batch did look better, the first batch was crunchier, and didn’t have any kind of aftertaste.

Other than suffering a horrible burn, there’s not a lot that can go wrong with this recipe, as long as you heat the syrup to 300 F. I checked mine with a probe thermometer, although a candy thermometer that attaches to the side of the pan would be a lot easier. Some folks say you can simply go by appearance, and when the syrup goes from clear to slightly golden, it’s done, but that requires a certain amount of experience.

Another method to gauge the temperature is by dropping a little bit of the molten syrup in water to see if it instantly turns into rock candy. That will work, but since thermometers aren’t expensive, and every kitchen should have one, that really is the way to go. Regardless, as long as you promise to be careful, I really do hope you give this gorgeous, homemade honeycomb toffee a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions:
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup (or golden syrup)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon baking soda (do not use baking powder)
2 tablespoons water
- Heat to 300 F. before adding baking soda

31 comments:

Shogun said...

Just made it with 1 1/2 tsp of baking soda. So far, no weird taste or anything and it seems to have come out super fluffy. I'll update once it cools down!

Thanks for the recipe!! Also, used all honey, we don't have corn syrup in Argentina

Diego Fukushima said...

i was so eager to eat this, that after I poured it I put it in the freezer. The bubbles quickly deflated, so the final product was not so crispy/light.

Mary W said...

I just checked and yes I do have all ingredients on hand. Oh Boy, my finger stick will not be done tomorrow! I saw Nigella make this one time years ago and hadn't heard of golden syrup before so assumed it would be like clotted cream - not allowed for Americans. Now I get to have one of the two forbidden treats. Why is all heavy cream ultra pasturized? Why can't they just heat it up barely enough and call it good? I really want to taste clotted cream before I die as I just know it will be delicious just as your hokey pokey is going to be. Can't get the crunch out of my head just like that stupid dance song. I'll need a sugar coma to sleep!

Andrea Frayser said...

I've been looking for a candy recipe that I could make for my Grandson who has severe allergies to eggs, nuts and dairy. This is perfect! Can't wait to make it for him. Especially since he's seen it on the Great British Baking Show- he's going to be thrilled!

KittyCorner said...

Have you considered adding cream of tartar to give your bubbles an extra boost?

KittyCorner said...

Have you considered adding cream of tartar to give your bubbles an extra boost?

Daliddle1 said...

I love, love, love your recipes! I only wish there was a print button so I could have your recipes in a binder! Thanks for all the wonderful things to make then eat! I haven’t yet found one I didn’t like! My grocery shopping is centered around any new recipes from you!

Janneman said...

Is that "1 teaspoon of baking soda" your first attempt, or the outcome of, as you say in the video, "I may have to try another batch...." with 1.5 times the original amount?

Unknown said...

I was wondering, does the corn syrup serve any major purpose in the preparation or is it just there for flavor/sweetness? It's kinda hard to find around here.

Thanks chef!

Alicia said...

Wow, that looks fabulous and it does seem very easy to make. I think it would be quite a conversation piece during the holidays as I've never heard of this type of candy. Thanks Chef!

spendingsensibly said...

Great recipe. Fyi sponge candy is specific to Buffalo. It is almost this but without the crunchy top and bottom. It is poured into a smaller diameter deep cylinder to have more of the soft inner after cutting the top and bottom off. Watsons and Altheas chocolates in Buffalo are the best. It is traditionally dipped in milk chocolate.

NoName ForMe said...

I doubled the recipe and added less than 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I little less than 2 1/2 teaspoons total) and it did make it puff up more but there was just a hint of a strange aftertaste. It still tastes great but I wanted to share that with everyone in case anyone wanted to add more baking soda like in the video to be very careful because even a small amount does change the taste. Also, it cooks very fast. Mine went over the required temperature (about 310 degrees) in under five minutes at medium heat with double the recipe. Mine still turned out fine but you have to watch very carefully or it will go over 300 degrees.

Julio Blanco said...

Made it with 1.5 tbsp of baking soda, 3 tbsp of honey instead and a pinch of salt. Used a mixing bowl instead of a flat surface to let it rest and came out extra bubbly. I used my laser thermometer and it still tasted a little burnt, could've been the extra honey. Less heat next time.

Tyler Morrison said...

@KittyCorner - I had the same question!

@Unknown - my understanding is that candy makers will put corn syrup in their recipes to prevent crystallization

Unknown said...

I never seem to be able to get it right up to heat before it burns. At what heat so you start it at? High and high all the way through to 300F?
I have a candy thermometer and it just never gets to 300F on a low to medium heat before it burns.
I cook using gas. I have tried so many different honeycomb recipes and I just fail time after time.

suela mborja said...

Is there any way to make this recipe without corn syrup or golden syrup because I don't have access to any of them

Andy Evans said...

The corn syrup is probably in there to keep the sugar from seizing in the pan as you are making the caramel. David Lebovitz says you can substitute with a bit of lemon juice or cream of tarter but I'm not sure how that would affect the baking soda reaction.

Mz Garden said...

Can this be doubled?

vino said...

I made this twice and both times the bubbles died down very quickly and left me with a sort of taffy after cooling, not a hard candy. Is my thermometer not reading correctly?

Ushdadude said...

Can I use mapel syrup instead of honey?

TA Anderson said...

Chef John, I broke down and did what our British friends do. Rather than breaking it up I used a serrated knife and cut it into bite-size squares, then dipped them in dark chocolate. OMG!

Juice said...

This what the peanut brittle I learned to make in junior high home ec" looked like when it was made wrong (too much soda). Never knew it was just a version of actual candy type. haha

Unknown said...

I think the corn syrup keeps it from becoming granulated in the end - like fudge - you need to avoid crystalization (maybe).

Mary W said...

I made it and boy was it a disaster. First of all, I used a candy thermometer that was faulty. It went up slowly to 150 then stopped. I just waited and the lovely clear liquid became golden, then darker, then I tapped the thermometer with my finger to see if it changed and it shot up to 500 in an instant. So you know the rest of the story. It did fluff wonderfully even though I made the mistake of too large a pan. It looked so good but was strangely very brown. Then when it cooled I lifted it, dropped it and it broke into great pieces that were almost like black tar in the middle. I had to try a tiny bit on the outside edge that didn't look like tar - it was the most bitter thing in the world. I know you are laughing. I wanted to try again but the stores were closed where I could buy another thermometer. There's always tomorrow.Hey, I didn't gain any weight! There's always that.

NoUseForAName said...

Hey everyone!
My outer layers (top and bottom) were a bit thick and so the texture was a bit tooth-sticky. The inside also crumbled a bit and flew all over. Any advice for why or what could adjust for this to make it crunchier and lighter? Thanks!

Aarav Verma said...

Wow, wonderful your recipe and The entire family loved it!! I was also looking for this recipe, thank you for sharing yummy recipes.

Aarav Verma said...

Wow, wonderful your recipe and The entire family loved it!! I was also looking for this recipe, thank you for sharing yummy recipes.

Unknown said...

Okay. Sponge Toffee is pretty common in Canada. To go extra decadent take the chunks and dip them into melted chocolate and put the in a cool refrigerator to harden up before serving. Now your making a treat!

Thanks Chef now I have to make some.

Unknown said...

I just made 2 double batches. Everyone loves it. Do not try to break it until the toffee is fully cool as it is still bendy.

Service Department said...

I'm going to try it with ingredients I already have. Evaporated cane juice, blackstrap molasses, and raw, unfiltered honey. Thanks for the inspiration!

Unknown said...

This is the second recipe I've made. The other was from the U.K. Neither turned out well. The consistency is more like taffy. What am I doing wrong?