The mere mention of things like homemade Snickers Bars (which I have wanted to make for forever now!), Peppermint Patties, and Buckeyes is enough to make me want to throw all caution – along with anything remotely healthy – to the wind.
Thoughts like Who need healthy when Christmas is less than a week away? start to run through my head, and before I know what’s happening, I’m making batch after batch of sponge candy. And I realized, I could not hoard a recipe as good as this all for myself…especially since I have seen this candy being sold for upwards of $20/lb!
I grew up with sponge candy on every single holiday. It’s one of those things that I eat twice a year, but look forward to the entire rest of the year.
Maybe you know it by a different name; in different areas around the world it also goes by Honeycomb, Sponge Toffee, Cinder Toffee, Puff Candy, Hokey Pokey, Fairy Food, or Sea Foam (you can read more about it on Wikipedia). It’s basically toffee that has baking soda added at the end of cooking, which causes a chemical reaction and gives the candy the porous, sponge-like texture it’s famous for.
You technically don’t have to coat sponge candy in chocolate, but chocolate definitely rounds out the flavor perfectly. And around these parts, not to coat it in chocolate is downright sacrilegious. You will suffer for your crime, even if your punishment is just listening to everyone who eats it ask you why you didn’t coat it in chocolate. Trust me, it’s better just to coat it.
This recipe definitely has to come with a disclaimer though. Once you realize how easy it is to make (you don’t even need a candy thermometer!), you might just want to make it all the time.
And right now is the perfect time. With Christmas less than a week away, you can sample a few pieces of candy and package the rest up as gifts. I’ve literally made this recipe three times in the past week under the pretenses of Christmas gifts and party favors.
Like I said, this candy needs a disclaimer.
- Butter, to generously grease the dish
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 12 oz (340 g) good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
- Grease an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with butter; line it with 2 pieces of parchment paper so that the paper hangs over all 4 sides, and then generously grease the paper with more butter.
- Add the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt to a heavy-bottomed, deep-sided, medium-sized saucepan.
- Heat over medium-high heat until the mixture turns amber colored, about 10 to 15 minutes. (You can swirl the pan, but don’t stir.)
- Once amber-colored, turn off the heat and use a wooden spoon to stir in the baking soda and vanilla. (Be careful because the mixture will foam up. Don't stir too much because you want the bubbles in the candy.)
- Pour the candy into the prepared dish and don’t move the dish until the candy is fully set, about 1 to 2 hours.
- Once set, break or cut the candy into about 1 to 2-inch-sized pieces. (You will have smaller candy crumbs; they are still delicious, so don’t discard them. Use the crumbs to garnish cupcakes, cake, ice cream, pancakes, waffles, yogurt, etc.)
- Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler. To coat the candy, gently brush off any small crumbs on the candy, dip it in the chocolate, and remove it with a fork to let the excess chocolate drip off. Place it on a wire rack or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Let the chocolate set before serving or packaging the candy.