As an Australian who has grown up eating Violet Crumbles and Crunchies, I had no choice but to start my foray into confectionery with honeycomb.
Also referred to as sponge toffee, foam toffee, cinder toffee and hokey pokey, honeycomb is generally made from sugar, golden syrup and baking soda.
It’s a bit of fun chemistry-wise and I found an excellent article that talks through the science of it all – http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2010/sep/24/sugar-honeycomb-cinder-toffee.
The main things that jumped out at me, and are sure to be helpful in the coming weeks, were:
The temperature of the sugar syrup will affect the consistency of your confectionery. For example, at 113C you make fudge, at 132C you make chewy toffee and at 149C and above you make hard sweets.
For this recipe, the author recommends that you heat the sugar syrup to 140-150C so that you get a good crack rather than a chew. However, if you’re feeling adventurous you can play around with the heat until you get the consistency you prefer.
Role of bi-carb soda
The heat of the sugar causes the bi-carb soda to break down, releasing carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide makes the syrup bubble and foam like crazy and leave you with a toffee that is aerated.
The golden syrup can be replaced by glucose syrup or honey (which I’ve seen in other recipes) but it’s basically there to prevent crystallisation as the sugar cools. This creates non-crystalline confectionery like brittles, caramels and toffees rather than crystalline confectionery like fondants, fudges and dragées (more on those later).
If you’re planning on making honeycomb, or any other confectionery, I’d definitely recommend having a candy thermometer on hand!
Mine tasted delicious but didn’t have quite the rise and bubble that I wanted. But hey it’s a first attempt and I’ll be more than happy to keep eating the spoils in the meantime.
Honeycomb (courtesy of Andy Connelly)
100g caster sugar
3 tablespoons of golden syrup
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
Mix the caster sugar and golden syrup together in a heavy bottomed pan large enough to accommodate the rising sugar when it bubbles up.
Put the pan on a low heat stirring with a wooden spoon until all the sugar crystals have dissolved, at this point stop stirring and heat until 145-150C.
Add the bicarbonate of soda, take off the heat, and stir.
Quickly pour the gooey bubbling mixture onto a baking tray covered with grease proof paper or greased foil. (I used a silicon mat)
Leave to cool then transfer to an air-tight container (or your mouth). Or you can cover it in chocolate and then eat it.