Monday, January 13, 2014

Sponge Candy!

Ooh, this was a fun one to make. Sponge candy (also known as honeycomb, seafoam, cinder toffee, among other things) is weird. I'm still amazed by what sugar can do simply by heating it to different temperatures. The difference sponge candy has is baking soda. Some recipes use vinegar to create a bubbly reaction. In this particular version, just the thermal decomposition of the baking soda causes the release of carbon dioxide, which causes the bubbles. Same idea. 

I don't remember the first time I had sponge candy, but I definitely fell for it in Ireland. Crunchie bars are probably my favorite candy bar, and I'm super sad they aren't a thing in the US. It's probably for the better...I might not have teeth if they were. I am in love with this candy, everything about it. I love the golden color and thousands of holes dotting its surface. I love the delicate tinkling sound of pieces hitting against each other. I love the texture, crunchy but easily yielding to the teeth, then dissolving to nothing. 

Scary Cave. Why did this happen?

I tried making a recipe over Christmas Break, and it was HORRIBLE. It called for actual honey and it smelled so, so bad. Like a barn. And it tasted awful, and I was so sad. I did some more research and found this recipe from Wilde in the Kitchen, who seems to have done some serious sponge candy research. Mine turned out...okay? The outside bits are very good, especially dipped in chocolate. But the whole inside was this...scary cave. Trypophobes, beware! I just scraped all the yucky stuff out and was left with some lovely candy. If anyone has perfected a recipe, let me know! 

Sponge Candy
from Wilde in the Kitchen

¼ tsp gelatin
1 tsp water
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cups light corn syrup
½ cup water
1 tbsp baking soda (sifted)

Butter a 9x9 pan then dust with flour. Tap out excess flour.

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1 tsp water and allow to bloom.

In a medium stock pot with high sides, mix sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water together. Heat over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Wash down any sugar crystals from the sides with a wet pastry brush. Clip on candy thermometer and heat to 310° F.  Do not stir after you have clipped the thermometer on, the sugar will self stir.

Remove from heat and let sit for two minutes, bubbling should subside. Add gelatin and whisk, be careful, the sugar syrup will bubble up. Sprinkle baking soda over syrup and whisk vigorously. Return mixture to the heat and whisk for 30 seconds. The sugar will rise up in the pot, a lot!

Quickly pour into prepared pan, it should come out in a big blob. Do not spread the mixture, just let it settle into the pan. Allow to cool completely (about 2 hours or overnight) before removing from the pan.

Either break into odd pieces or cut into squares (this is a messy process!). To cut into squares - using a serrated knife, score the candy at 1-inch intervals. Snap the candy apart at the score lines. Then score and break into squares.

If you please, melt chocolate melts in a double boiler (or bowl sitting above a pot of boiling water). Dip sponge candies in chocolate, tap off excess. Chill in the fridge to set the chocolate shell. Enjoy!


  1. Good for you for sticking with it! I am a big believer that taste is the number one priority! Who cares if there area few caves?

  2. Thanks! I feel the same way. If it looks beautiful but tastes bad, what's the point? Though, it's always nice when you can achieve a balance of pleasing aesthetics and flavor :)

  3. Just came across your blog through Daring Bakers today. This recipe caught my eye. I love this kind of candy. Can't wait to try it!


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