Okay so we all know I’m a science-obsessive. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Ammiright? But that is nothing compared to my obsession with candy!
That’s what makes me especially excited about this post. Because even if you hated science class, making this candy is comparable to watching a baking soda volcano explode for the first time. And actually, this is just like that.
We’re talkin’ honeycomb candy! Awwww yeah. That light and airy, crunchy and sweet, honey-flavored treat. Also known by many other synonyms—Google it, and I guarantee you’ve had it.
You start out with sugar, water, and corn syrup (to prevent crystallization) and cook the crap out of it. Add honey, and cook it some more. To hard crack stage. Then you let the bubbles subside and the syrup thicken a bit. And finally, we’ve come to the cool part: a couple things get added to the pot.
One of which is baking soda. The baking soda reacts to the really hot syrup and begins to breakdown immediately. The byproduct of that reaction? Carbon dioxide gas! Remember that baking soda volcano I brought up earlier? This is essentially the same thing, except heat, rather than acid, is doing the magic. You’ll see the syrup fizz and bubble after you mix in the baking soda. The carbon dioxide gas aerates the mixture, and as the candy cools, the carbon dioxide gets stuck in the candy as little air bubbles.
But the genius ladies of Liddabit Sweets have made this candy a bit more foolproof. They add gelatin to the mix before the baking soda. The gelatin will spread throughout the syrup and create a protein network. That network will trap some of the carbon dioxide before the syrup cools in order to ensure an especially aerated candy. Additionally, that network (plus the air bubbles, of course) will also help keep the candy from becoming tooth-breakingly hard.
Side note: the gelatin gets added in a “bloomed” form. A small amount of water is added to the gelatin powder to begin the network forming. Because the syrup is so hot, the water in the gelatin mix evaporates immediately, and you’ll see a bunch of bubbles here. This is normal, but not the baking soda magic we’re looking for. So proceed as normally folks!
And that’s pretty much it! You’re so close to harnessing the power of science and enjoying the fairytale-esque honeycomb candy.
Chocolate-Covered Honeycomb Candy
Barely adapted from Liddabit Sweets
Cooking spray and cornstarch/flour for greasing and coating the pan
3 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup water
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon bloomed gelatin*
1 ½ tablespoons baking soda, sifted
32 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
Coarse sea salt
Aluminum disposable casserole pan, 9×12” and at least 3” deep
Chisel and/or flathead screwdriver and hammer
- Spray your aluminum disposable casserole dish with cooking spray all over and sift the cornstarch or flour all over as well. Tap around to cover most of the nooks and crannies. Place the disposable pan on a baking sheet and set it right next to where you are cooking the honeycomb.
- In a large saucepan (at least 4 quarts), combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir with a heatproof spatula to combine. Heat over high heat until boiling without further stirring. Once boiling, insert the candy thermometer. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 285⁰F. This will take 12-15 minutes. While you’re waiting for the mixture to reach this temperature, get the honey, gelatin, and baking soda ready to go.
- Once the mixture reaches temperature, add the honey all at once and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 302⁰F. This will take about 5 minutes. Note the color will change to a lightened golden hue.
- Turn off the heat and leave the pot on the warm burner. Remove the candy thermometer. Allow the syrup to cool until the large bubbles have disappeared, but small bubbles remain. The syrup should be thin and liquid still (swirl the pan around). This should take about 3 minutes, but watch carefully. This is the critical step!
- Add the bloomed gelatin and stir quickly but completely to combine. Be careful because the mixture will steam and bubble. Add the baking soda and again stir very quickly but completely. Take care to get around the sides and bottom of the saucepan. You should see the syrup aerate and lighten significantly in color.
- Quickly pour the mixture in the prepared disposable dish. Work quickly, but don’t touch the candy or the pan! It is very hot. Let the candy cool for at least two hours before you proceed.
- Use a chisel or flathead screwdriver/hammer to break up the candy once cool. If using the chisel, gently but firmly break the candy up by inserting the chisel into the candy and busting it up. If using a screwdriver/hammer combo, it will take a bit more work, but definitely doable. Stick the screwdriver into the candy and use a hammer to tap the butt of the screwdriver. This should cause smaller breaks. Once you break up the candy, you’ve got honeycomb candy! Seal for up to a month, or cover with chocolate! – see below
- Cover the honeycomb with chocolate. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt about half of the chocolate in short bursts, stirring the chocolate to prevent burning. Alternatively, melt the chocolate over a double boiler.
- While melting the chocolate, blend a couple tablespoons of coarse sugar and course sea salt together. If you have pretty large granules, use a mortar and pestle to break down the particles to be of similar, smaller size.
- Temper the chocolate. Once melted, add in small handfuls of the remaining chocolate. Stir with a rubber spatula after each addition. You’re trying the lower the temperature of the chocolate to about 88⁰F so that we can force the lipid crystals to set up correctly. Once it’s getting to be more work to melt pieces of chocolate in the bulk chocolate, check the temperature. An old-school way to check the temperature quickly is to dip a fingertip into the chocolate and press it to your bottom lip. The temperature should be about the same. But if you want to be sure, put a dab of the chocolate on a piece of wax paper and let it set-up. You should see shiny and smooth chocolate with no white streaks appearing.
- Once in temper, dip the honeycomb pieces into the chocolate one at a time. Cover completely and remove with either a large tweezers or two small cocktail forks. Place the chocolate honeycomb on a parchment sheet to cool completely and harden. Sprinkle the tops of the wet chocolate-covered honeycomb with the sugar/salt mixture** as they are placed on the parchment. Repeat with all of the honeycomb.
- When the chocolate gets cool, as it will during this process, you’ll have to reheat the chocolate and start all over. Repeat the temper process with the leftover original chocolate you didn’t add in the first temper process.
- When the chocolate is completely hardened, store the honeycomb in a sealed container for up to two months**.
*Bloomed gelatin: combine 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin to 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon cold water. Stir completely and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes before using in this recipe. Store the leftovers in the fridge for up to 1 month.
**Note: because we’re covering the chocolate with sugar/salt, these are going to be more sensitive to water and changes in temperature. Try to keep these candies in a cool, dry environment to prevent a loss in appearance and quality!
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