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How to make Honeycomb treats

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Picture of How to make Honeycomb treats
Honeycomb treats are a delightful sweet nibble, perfect for the outdoor festivities or as an after-dinner accompaniment to your coffee. Honeycomb goes by other sames such as cinder toffee or bonfire candy but none of them actually contain any honey. It's the closest you get to alchemy in the kitchen and is truely amazing to make. So let's get started!
 
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Step 1: Ingredients

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This recipe happens really quickly, so it's essential you prepare all your tools and ingredients so you're ready. To make a good quantity of honeycomb, you will need:

Sugar - 100g - I use granulated here, but caster sugar would be better. I imagine you'd get some real depth of flavour with demerara or light muscavado.

Golden Syrup - As much as you can get on a fork, twice - The biggest failure I've experienced with this recipe is too much golden syrup. I'll explain my esoteric measurement later.

Bicarbonate of soda - 1 teaspoon - This is the magic ingredient that makes it all happen. Baking powder might work (not sure about that).

Tools:

1 large saucepan
1 fork
1 teaspoon
1 cup of cold water
Greaseproof paper
A stove

Step 2: Get it together

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First things first, prepare a sheet of greaseproof paper about 300x300mm to pour the honeycomb mix onto. I place it on a large shallow dish so that the honeycomb sets with a good thickness. You could pour it out flat, but it could end up only about 10-15mm thick. (Quick tip - if you need the paper to lay in a try or dish, scrunch it up to take the form better).

Pour the sugar into the pan and drizzle on top the golden syrup. For the quantity of syrup, stick the fork into the syrup and twirl it around to get as much on as you can then let that drip onto the sugar till most of it is off. Then repeat; at room temperature you should have about the same. I find golden syrup isn't something easily measured with spoons, but the fork is quite repeatable. Mix the sugar and syrup together till it clumps nicely which will make the melting more even. Then take it to the stove.

Step 3: Heating things up

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Place the pan on the stove and put it on the lowest heat possible. Really low. If heated too quickly, the sugar will burn and go black and bitter. This might be tricky on a ceramic or electric hob, so keep an extra close eye on it and lift it off if it gets too hot.

You can stir it with a fork whilst it's heating up and ensure that the sugar melts nice and evenly. The syrup will thin out and the sugar dissolve and slowly start bubbling. The mix will slowly change colour from a dark yellow to a brown as it heats up so keep a steady eye on it. It will take about 10 minutes to get to the stage required. The critical point is to heat the sugar to a stage called "hard crack" around 160deg Celcius which makes the honeycomb crunchy and crispy, anything less than this and you'll have some tooth-extracting toffee.

Step 4: Hard crack test

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If you have a sugar thermometer, superb, heat to the hard crack temperature. Most of us don't so the easy way to test is with the cup of cold water. Dip the end of the teaspoon in the syrup then into the cold water to set it. You might hear the sugar crack as it cools rapidly which indicates it's hot enough. Or just bite the syrup and if you can crack it off the spoon so that there isn't any left, then you're good to go. I find that it very quickly goes from "not quite hot enough" to "burnt", so move it off the heat while you check.

Step 5: The magic happening

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Take it off the heat when it's ready and then quickly drop the teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into the syrup. Now as fast as you can, whisk the mix with the fork thoroughly. The soda and mixing creates the air pockets that give the honeycomb effect. As you're frantically stirring, move over to the paper. When you think it's sufficiently done, pour it out in a big, hot, airy dollop. This all happens in less than a minute as the reaction happens fast and you don't want to ruin the bubbles by stirring too much as the sugar cools.

Now leave it to cool for an hour or two and do the washing up. The syrup sticks hard to everything but easily cleans up when soaked.

Step 6: Ta da!

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After a couple of hours, it should be pretty much solid. You can place it in the fridge for a little while to speed it up. It's ready when the surface is no longer tacky to the touch.

The greaseproof paper will just peel off so you have a big honeycomb biscuit. Take your small novelty hammer and smack it to break into glorious shards of sweetness. It'll shatter quite happily and you'll have some tasty dust as well. And then enjoy! Store in a cool place to keep it from going sticky again.

Step 7: Extra steps

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I've tried some variations on the honeycomb and here's what's work and not:

Peanuts - worked pretty well as a crunchy, crispy peanut brittle.

Cinnamon - I added half a teaspoon of cinnamon along with the soda and it worked quite well, gave a bit of heat and spice.

Ground ginger - Much like the cinnamon, heat and spice which tingled nicely.

Cocoa powder - Didn't work so well. I was hoping for a chocolate honeycomb, but I think the fine cocoa ruined the structure and it kinda collapsed.

Chocolate coating - Much more effective, just melt some chocolate, let it cool a bit and drizzle over the chunks.

All lovely treats, easy and simple to make and quite impressive. Enjoy!
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di451 month ago

molasses would work.

WayneB37 months ago

the water does go in at the start of part three with the sugar, syrup before heating?

chiok (author)  WayneB37 months ago

Oh woah, no. No water in the mixture. Just the sugar and golden syrup. Soak the pan after you've poured it out to help dissolve the sugar for clean up.

CatAuror191688 months ago

I made it, but I accidentally burnt it and it tasted nasty. I WILL succeed!

CatAuror191688 months ago

do to have to temper the chocolate before drizzling it on?

171111402 years ago
how long did it take for the sugar to melt and start boiling?
chiok (author)  171111402 years ago
About five minutes, maybe more. The key is to keep a low slow rise in temperature for the sugar to prevent burning it.
Miesha12 years ago
I made this today for the family (mostly me) absolutely yummy I will dip it in chocolate and have a crunchie bar . Thank you for your help
Seleziona5 years ago
did anyone find out if you can use baking powder?
Yea, Bicarbonate of soda and baking powder are the same thing
baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents, which means they are added to baked goods before cooking to produce carbon dioxide and cause them to 'rise'. Baking powder contains baking soda, but the two substances are used under different conditions.
ahhhhh! okay! Thanks :)
darus676 years ago
Since golden syrup doesn't appear to be readily available in the US, can plain white corn syrup be used instead? I wonder if flavor extracts like vanilla or almond or others might work better than the powdered spices.
Or you could just use plain old honey .... this will taste even BETTER ! :D
On the off chance that there's a Publix near you (I didn't find a Publix till I moved to North Alabama; no idea how widespread the chain is), I've found golden syrup in their ethnic foods aisle alongside barley water and mixes for shepherd's pie and curry.


jokerlz darus676 years ago
You can't get golden syrup! You're missing out my American cousins. Honey might work, similar consistancy and colour if you get the runny stuff, doesn't taste quite the same though.
jgfish jokerlz4 years ago
I tried the recipe with 1 heaped teaspoon of honey and it worked well, The honey was cold so it was easy to get that specific amount
chiok (author)  jokerlz6 years ago
Honey is quite a bit less viscous than golden syrup, so my "2 forkful" measurement won't work. I'll estimate at 2 tablespoons (that's 6 teaspoons, not dessertspoons). No idea if it'd work with honey, I don't have that much of it unfortunately. Someone could try?
Honey has a pH of about 3.7 (acidic), and so it will react with the sodium bicarbonate. I tried it and it worked, though you should use a bit more baking soda and honey.
You could probably substitute corn syrup, but you would have to add a bit of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to get the same flavor.
chiok (author)  darus676 years ago
Umm, maybe. When I couldn't find corn syrup for fake blood, golden syrup was suggested the closest thing (I wonder why they keep to separate sides of the pond)? So it'd probably work the same.

Extracts of flavour would definitely work; the small quantity required won't mess anything up. Just don't get *too* creative with the flavours. Marmite honeycomb isn't going to be hit I don't think. (Does Marmite exist in USA?)
If you wouldn't mind, what are the ingredients listed on golden syrup? I'm terribly curious...
chiok (author)  At Liberty6 years ago
All it says on the tin is "partially inverted refiners syrup". Which means it's sugar cane of sugar beets that they've messed around with. Wikipedia has the full slant on it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_syrup

As Jess says, it has a definite flavour to it (I've never tried corn syrup). But if you are substituting it for corn syrup, the addition of other flavours would balance it out I guess. Maybe some maple syrup or something.

The important thing is the "Hard Crack" stage.
Thank you very kindly for the trouble.
jess darus676 years ago
Golden syrup is often available at Cost Plus, and British import stores. It has a very different flavor to corn syrup and I wouldn't recommend switching them based on previous experience.
Gabi Girl3 years ago
that looks awesome!!!
Gabi Girl3 years ago
Would that be about on 2 on a 1-6 stove?
Kaiven6 years ago
I have heard that name before... What is bicarbonate of soda? Baking soda? And can I use honey instead of golden syrup?
chiok (author)  Kaiven6 years ago
Bicarbonate of soda is used as a raising agent in the UK for various baked goods. They sell it alongside Baking Powder which is the same but has Cream of Tartar or something added to it. All in all, I have no idea of what the differences in use between them all are. All I know is that cream of tartar isn't a cream and burns purple. The first time I tried this, I put in half honey, half syrup, and I ended up with toffee. This may have been mainly due to inexperience. I would think that using exclusively honey wouldn't work but I don't know for certain. Since honey isn't cheap, it isn't the sort of thing I'd like to experiment heavily with, but give it a go. I'd love to know, plus it'd be nice if honeycomb actually had some honey in.
Burns purple?
Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) contains potassium, which burns purple (more of a pale violet, actually). It's cheaper and easier to demonstrate that flame test property in science labs with cream of tartar than with pure potassium. Its also a good bit safer, so this is actually a fun one to try out.
chiok (author)  bunnytofu6 years ago
Exactly that

We dissolve it in methylated spirits to get a violet flame for fire juggling. It's the simplest/easiest way for a different coloured flame.
Yokel chiok6 years ago
What is methylated spirits? It doesn't appear to be available in the US. Can I use denatured alcohol? (When do I add it? Before or after the golden syrup?)
chiok (author)  Yokel6 years ago
I think denatured alcohol is near enough the same thing. You put it on afterwards, just kinda spritz it on then flambe the bad boy. It gives something to burn while the sugar catches...
Oh, that's it, methylated spirits is what is giving you the purple color. I just barely burned some cream of tartar, and it just sort of poofed orange for a sec.
chiok (author)  orangesrhyme6 years ago
Actually, methylated spirits burns pretty much no colour at all, maybe a hint of blue due to the near-pure alcohol content meaning it burns completely without soot or smoke. Makes it very difficult to tell if a spirit burner is on or not during the day. Dissolving the tartar into the spirits gives the purple flame. Maybe try a straw to spray some cream of tartar like you do for custard fireballs if you don't have any spirits. Of course this is all going off topic.
Gabi Girl chiok3 years ago
So we add meths for a purple colour?! or cream of tartar?
Yokel chiok6 years ago
Mmmm, Custard Fireballs on the Honeycomb Treats sounds delicious. I'll have to try that for the kids' birthdays.
Yeah, we're kind of going off on a tangent, huh? I'll try the straw, that may have been the reason that I didn't get any color.
Erfunden Kaiven6 years ago
Yes, bicarbonate of soda and baking soda are the same thing. It's a powder with a base ph so that, when mixed with an acid (vinegar, lemon juice, or in this case the golden syrup maybe?) it foams and makes baked good rise (like fluffy buttermilk pancakes). Baking powder is just baking soda with cream of tartar, which is an acidic powder (tartaric acid), so that all you have to add is a liquid to start the leavening action. Probably more than you really wanted to know. Oh well.
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