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Best Ever Honeycomb

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Best Ever Honeycomb AKA Cinder Toffee, Hokey Pokey, Sponge Candy & Crunchie. A foolproof recipe with step by step instructions to help you make the crunchiest homemade honeycomb.

Halloween and Bonfire Night are fast approaching so I thought I’d share my Kitchen Shed Tips to help you make the best and crunchiest honeycomb … although getting here wasn’t as straightforward as I’d hoped.

This foolproof recipe for Best Ever Honeycomb was developed during my attempts to make wedding favours for a family wedding. Four hundred pieces of chocolate covered crunchy honeycomb were required.

Chocolate covered hokey pokey in a dish.

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Naively I thought it was simply a matter of a quick practice run and all would be good to go – how wrong I was !

It’s fair to say I had a few confectionery crises as initial attempts were too sticky and then too hard and I imagined queues of wedding guests outside the dentist’s surgery.

The feedback on the wedding day made all the last minute honeycomb panic worthwhile. Enjoyed by kids and adults alike, Best Ever Honeycomb was a real winner.

It was lovely to hear guests reminiscing and sharing their childhood memories of Woolworth’s chocolate honeycomb. Honeycomb turned out to be my Dad’s favourite childhood sweet.

Broken pieces of cinder toffee on baking parchment.

Homemade Honeycomb FAQs

If you’re making honeycomb for the first time or you have any questions, please take a read through my FAQs for extra tips and handy information.

What Is Honeycomb ?

Honeycomb, also referred to as cinder toffee, Hokey Pokey, Sponge Candy and Sea Foam is a light, airy sweet made from a sugar syrup and bicarbonate of soda / baking soda. The honeycomb structure is caused by the bicarbonate of soda reacting with the hot sugar syrup and creating pockets of air.

It has a delicious sweet, toffee flavour and is often covered with chocolate.

What Do I Need To Make Honeycomb ?

The most important thing when making honeycomb is to have everything ready before you start.

Equipment

A clean, medium sized heavy based saucepan. You need plenty of room for the toffee to expand when you add the bicarbonate of soda.

A sugar or jam thermometer is essential although I now like to use a Thermapen as you get a quick and accurate digital reading. If you want your honeycomb to be perfect and not soft, not teeth breakingly hard or bitter, you really do need to use an accurate thermometer.

A cup of water and a pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals forming in your pan.

A shallow baking tray lined with baking parchment.

Hot honeycomb being poured onto a lined baking tray.

Ingredients

Sugar – Cane sugar is easier to work with and the addition of golden syrup helps to prevent crystals forming.

I like to use Tate & Lyle caster sugar, readily available here in the UK, as it’s a fine pure cane sugar which dissolves quickly. 

Golden syrup – golden syrup is an inverted sugar syrup which helps prevent crystallisation. I use Lyle’s Golden Syrup, which although it is a UK product, can now be ordered via Amazon in the US and most of the other Amazon stores.

Glucose syrup can also be used as it has a similar effect but doesn’t give the same caramel like flavour as golden syrup.

Close up photo of shards of cinder toffee.

How To Make Best Ever Honeycomb

Best Ever Honeycomb takes about 10 minutes to make.

Preparation is key so make sure you have your ingredients and equipment ready. Check the recipe card first.

Sugar crystals are your enemy, follow these steps and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Add the ingredients to a medium sized heavy based saucepan and attach the sugar thermometer to the side of the pan. Place on a low heat and stir gently until the sugar has dissolved.

To test if the sugar is completely dissolved scoop out a small amount of the syrup with a spoon. You should not be able to see any sugars crystals in the liquid.

Now you can turn up the heat to medium AND DO NOT STIR or your syrup will crystallise. I find it useful to have a cup of water and pastry brush so I can brush the sides of my pan to prevent sugar crystals forming.

I like to heat the syrup to around 150C as I prefer a brittle toffee and a caramel flavour. If you stop at a lower temperature your honeycomb will be softer.

BE CAREFUL when you take the pan off the heat, the pan and contents will be very hot.

Now it’s time for the magic – add the bicarbonate of soda and gently whisk until the bicarb has disappeared.

It’s important to cool the honeycomb mixture down as quickly as you can – this helps prevent those rogue sugar crystals forming – so pouring into a shallow baking tray lined with baking paper does the job nicely.

Once it has set – it’s time for the best bit, breaking and eating!

Or store in an airtight container.

AND LASTLY…

For an easy clean – immediately fill your empty pan with hot soapy water and leave for a few minutes before washing.

Why Is My Homemade Honeycomb Chewy ?

The syrup is taken off the heat too soon, it’s a common mistake and one I made!

Underheating the sugar makes the honeycomb sticky so it won’t set correctly.

Keep your eye on the sugar thermometer and make sure the temperature reaches at least 146 degrees C or 295 degrees F.

This is known as the hard crack stage which is 146 to 155 degrees C or 295 to 310 degrees F.

Why Does My Honeycomb Taste Burnt ?

TOO much heat ! Another common mistake and you guessed it – I made it too !

The syrup becomes burnt and bitter, you can see it starting to smoke.

DON’T leave your pan unattended and keep an eye on the temperature.

Remove from the heat as soon as it reaches temperature and add the bicarbonate of soda.

How Do I Store Homemade Honeycomb ?

In an airtight container or it will go soft. A glass container works best.

DO NOT STORE HONEYCOMB IN THE FRIDGE otherwise it will go soft.

Jars and a dish of freshly made cinder toffee.

How Long Does Homemade Honeycomb Last ?

Stored correctly in an airtight container in a cool dry place honeycomb will last for up to three months or longer.

I’ve stored ours in Le Parfait jars and our honeycomb was still crisp after six months.

Broken pieces of chocolate covered hokey pokey.

What To Do With Honeycomb

Cover with chocolate, who can resist homemade Crunchie?

Honeycomb is delicious in ice cream, crumbled on the top of chocolate cakes, cheesecakes or cupcakes.
How do you use yours?

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Sponge candy broken into small bite sized pieces.

Best Ever Honeycomb

Best Ever Honeycomb AKA Cinder Toffee, Hokey Pokey, Sponge Candy & Crunchie. A foolproof recipe with step by step instructions to help you make the crunchiest honeycomb.-
4.91 from 128 votes
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Course: Sweet Treat
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 30 pieces
Author: Sarah James
pieces

Equipment

  • A clean medium sized heavy based saucepan
  • A sugar or jam thermometer
  • A pastry brush
  • A cup of water
  • A whisk
  • A shallow baking tray lined with baking parchment

Ingredients

  • 175 g Caster Sugar Cane sugar if available
  • 4 tbsp Golden Syrup
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda

Instructions

  • Add the sugar and golden syrup to the pan and attach the thermometer to the side of the pan.
  • Place on a low heat and stir gently until dissolved, try not to let the mixture bubble until completely dissolved.
    Do not stir once the sugar has dissolved or it will crystallise.
  • Once completely melted, turn up the heat to medium and heat until the temperature reaches 150 Degrees C, it will be a lovely golden colour.
  • As quickly as you can take the pan off the heat and remove the thermometer. Be careful you don't want to burn yourself with hot caramel.
  • Tip in the bicarbonate of soda and gently whisk in until it has all disappeared and the mixture is foaming, taking care not to overdo it.
  • Pour out gently into the lined tin, pouring as near to the bottom of the lined tin as you can so you don't lose those lovely bubbles.
    Carefully scrape out the last of the mixture with a silicone spatula.
  • Leave to cool before cracking into chunks. Optional: Cover with chocolate.
  • Store in an airtight container, glass works best.

Video

Notes

  • If you’re making honeycomb for the first time then I recommend reading the main blog post for extra tips and answers to FAQs.
  • Recipe can easily be doubled.
  • Use Cane Sugar if you can, it’s easier to work with.

PIN FOR LATER

Five photo images of the sugar boiling process. Saucepans with a jam thermometer and boiling syrup.

I’m entering Best Ever Honeycomb into a few food challenges this month:

And linking to: Fiesta Fridays

Recipe Rating




Denise Brooks

Friday 26th of November 2021

Hi there, thank you for your recipe, I'm going to try your recipe tomorrow. I have 2 questions. 1. Can you leave the thermometer in the pan all while cooking? And 2. I'm wanting to make these as gifts and to sell some at Christmas, how long do you think they will last in plastic tied gift bags? Thanks, Denise

Denise Brooks

Monday 6th of December 2021

@Sarah James, I finally had a go. I did double the recipe. The first tray I filled was good, the second tray seemed to have a clear sugar layer at the bottom. Not sure whether this is because I scraped it out of the pan. The first tray I poured out the liquid. Also I'm going to try with a fresh pot of bicarb, it's just in date but had been open for a year. I tried to whisk lightly but not sure whether I overdid it. I guess I'll have to practice and get someone as a taster because I'm diabetic lol 😊

Sarah James

Sunday 28th of November 2021

Hi Denise, it's a pleasure to share my recipe. I've been away for the weekend so I hope my reply isn't too late. In answer to your first question, I tend to put the thermometer in the pan after I've stirred the sugar at the beginning. I leave it in the pan until the sugar syrup reaches temperature. In answer to your second question, I used to heat seal the bags of honeycomb I sold as this ensured the bags were airtight and inline with food hygiene guidelines. Honeycomb in a heat sealed bag will keep for six weeks. I haven't stored honeycomb in tied plastic bags but I think the shelf life is likely to be much shorter. Hope this helps, Sarah.

Joanna

Friday 19th of November 2021

Followed your recipe, tastes absolutely delicious but was chewy. I used sugar thermometer and waited til it reached 150 degrees Celsius. Could it be the baking tray was too big and the mixture was a little on flat side?

Sarah James

Saturday 20th of November 2021

Hello Joanna, thanks for getting in touch. First suggestion is to check your thermometer in boiling water to see if it accurately reflects 100 degrees celsius - obviously not a full calibration check but a reasonable indicator. In terms of chewiness, I've certainly had times where the weather has affected honeycomb. For instance, if it's raining and damp the humidity is higher and my honeycomb has been slightly chewy. It's also important to store the honeycomb in an airtight container as soon as it's cooled and broken into pieces. I've not come across tray size affecting the overall texture of honeycomb in this way but it's probably worthwhile using a smaller tray if your honeycomb was particularly thin. Hope this helps and please do let me know how it goes with your next batch.

Tim

Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

Very decent result from this recipe. Here's a tip for the folks playing along at home. Add about half a cup of malted milk powder in with the bicarb. You basically end up with a slab of malteser centres.

Sarah James

Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

Hello Tim, so pleased you tried the recipe and thanks for the feedback. Malteser centres sound delicious, I wondered if malted milk powder would work to make the honeycomb malteser like. Thanks for the tip, Sarah.

N Lewis

Friday 15th of October 2021

Just made this (and I've made other recipes before) and this is genuinely excellent. Not too much bicarb and it tastes lovely.

In the notes it says it doubles easily. Do you double exactly the recipe, I.e. Double the bicarb too?

Thanks

Sarah James

Sunday 17th of October 2021

Hi, thanks for getting in touch. I'm so pleased you enjoyed the honeycomb. I did experiment with the amount of bicarb so you couldn't taste it in the finished honeycomb. Yes, double the bicarb too if you're making a double batch, I often make a double batch as it keeps so well. I find a double batch is the maximum amount of syrup you really want to work with in a home kitchen. Sarah.

Elliott Rodgers

Thursday 27th of May 2021

Can you use an infra red thermometer instead of sugar/jam thermometer?

Thanks

Sarah James

Friday 28th of May 2021

Hello Elliott, Thanks for getting in touch. Personally, I wouldn't use an infra red thermometer because in essence an infra red uses "reflection" to measure surface temperature and as you're working with a bubbling surface, it's a bit hit and miss as to where the reading is being taken from. In effect the surface is almost constantly changing. Also, steam can interfere with readings taken using an infra red thermometer. For me, I now prefer to use my Thermapen as it gives a fast and accurate reading although a traditional jam thermometer will still do the job. Hope this helps.