Homemade Chocolate-Covered Sponge Candy is easier to make than you might think. If you love this candy as much as this Buffalo girl, this recipe is for you! Here the crunch and complex sweetness of caramelized sugar candy is coated with chocolate for a treat everyone loves.
We don’t talk candy much around here, which is probably for the best.
Of course with the exception of things like Crispy Toasted Puffed Quinoa Dark Chocolate Candy Bars, Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, and Paleo Candy Apple Wedges.
The mere mention of things like Homemade Snickers Bars, Homemade 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 that’s when I knew I had to share this recipe.
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 right around the corner, 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, lol.)
What is Sponge Candy?
Maybe you know it by a different name. Sponge candy is also called 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. This causes a chemical reaction and gives the candy the porous, sponge-like texture it’s famous for.
Sponge candy is crispy but porous, so it’s light on the tongue. It sort-of melts on the tongue into caramel-flavored bliss.
Buffalo Sponge Candy
This is a classic in Buffalo and the Western New York region! Growing up in Buffalo, we had sponge candy on every single major holiday. It’s one of those things that I eat a couple times a year, but look forward to the entire rest of the year.
You technically don’t have to coat this 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.
If you’re in Buffalo and looking for the best sponge candy, a few of my personal favorites are: Fowler’s, Watson’s, and Parkside Candy.
Where is Sponge Candy From?
There are plenty of people who claim that sponge candy is from Buffalo, but I haven’t found substantial evidence to back up that claim. Although what a claim to fame that would be, almost right up there with Buffalo wings!
Is Sponge Candy Only in Buffalo?
No, this candy isn’t only found in Buffalo! Although, according to The Buffalo News, Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs host almost 20 chocolatiers, which is more than most metropolitan areas of a similar size.
And I’ve heard from several different sources that the reason this type of candy does so well in Buffalo is due in large part to its cool/cold and dry climate.
Pro Tip: Heat and humidity are not friends to sponge candy! I highly recommend making this candy on a cool, dry day.
Sponge Candy FAQ
Can you Refrigerate Sponge Candy?
Yes, you can (my grandma always does, lol! At any given time she has a massive tub of it stashed in the basement fridge). However, if the temperature inside is 68 to 72F, I recommend leaving it stored in a covered container at room temperature.
Personally, I don’t like to refrigerate it because it loses its crispness due to the humidity in the fridge.
What is Sponge Candy Made Of?
The main ingredients are sugar, corn syrup, and baking soda. I also add butter (to give it a butter toffee flavor), salt (to balance the sweet), and vanilla.
How Do You Make Sponge Candy?
Making this candy is basically like making toffee, but with the addition of baking soda to make it porous and lighten the texture a bit. Give it a try and you’ll realize that it really is very easy to make!
Measure the Ingredients
General Steps for How to Make Sponge Candy:
1. Boil sugar and corn syrup (I also add butter and salt) until it reaches the hard-crack stage.
2. Remove it from the heat and carefully stir in baking soda and vanilla. (It will foam up!)
3. Pour it into a buttered dish (or a dish lined with parchment paper) and let it set.
4. Break the candy up.
5. Coat the candy in chocolate if you want (highly recommended!).
More Holiday Treats to Try:
- Chocolate Peppermint Bark
- Easy Sugar Free Turtle Cheesecake Dip
- Low Carb Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
- Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge
- Christmas Crack
- Turtle Brownies
- Sugared Cranberries
Did you make this recipe? Please rate it and leave a comment below because I love hearing from you! You can also tag @anediblemosaic on social media. To stay up-to-date FOLLOW ME on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Xoxo, Faith
Chocolate-Covered Sponge Candy
- Butter to generously grease the dish
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 12 ounces 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 off 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. After cooking a couple minutes, carefully stir to help the sugar dissolve, but try not to get sugar crystals stuck to the sides of the pot. Once the sugar is dissolved, I recommend carefully swirling the pan (not stirring) to avoid sugar crystalizing on the sides. If you want to check the temperature, once the mixture is amber colored it should be 300F on a candy thermometer (hard-crack stage).
- Once amber colored, remove it from the heat and use a wooden spoon to stir in the baking soda and vanilla. (Be careful because the mixture will foam up.) Stir until the ingredients are fully combined, but be don't over-stir or your sponge candy will deflate.
- 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 crumbs and shrapnel; it’s still delicious, so don’t discard it. Use it to garnish cupcakes, cake, ice cream, pancakes, waffles, yogurt, etc.)
- Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler, and temper it if desired. To coat the candy, gently brush off any small crumbs on the candy and dip it in the chocolate. Place it on a wire rack so any excess chocolate can drip off.
- Let the chocolate set before serving.
- This recipe makes about 1.5 pounds of candy in total; each serving is 1.5 ounces, which is approximately 4 pieces of candy.
- If you want to check the temperature, when the candy mixture is amber-colored it should be 300F on a candy thermometer (hard-crack stage).
- Heat and humidity are not friends to sponge candy! I highly recommend making this candy on a cool, dry day.
- Once the chocolate is set, store this sponge candy in a covered container at cool room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
- If you use salted butter instead of unsalted butter, omit the 1/8 teaspoon sea salt.
- I find that if I use thick parchment paper, there's no need to butter the pan or the paper.
- I recommend sifting the baking soda before stirring it into the sugar mixture to make sure there are no lumps.
- If desired, instead of using dark chocolate, you can use dark chocolate melting wafers so there is no need to temper the chocolate.
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on December 19, 2013. It was updated with more information and photos on December 30, 2020.
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I believe in, which means that even though it doesn’t cost you anything extra, I will receive a small amount of money from the sale of these items. Thank you for helping to support An Edible Mosaic!
I made this today and it came out great. My baking soda had expired and I didn’t realize until I noticed it didn’t fluff as much but it still tastes exactly like the sponge candy I would always get in PA. I will definitely be making this again.
Buffalo girl here. Bring this recipe to my work. Bet it knocks my boss off her feet. Her Candy shop will is begging for this, melt on tongue pleasure I grew up with. Testing many and fingers crossed yours is the closet to the Buffalo secret. I have taken bags of it from Buffalo to every placed i visit. Post office worker in WV. Was absolutely floored by how much she loved it, and swore she’d go to Buffalo. I’m excited to make. Thank you.
I was happily surprised to spot this recipe for my favorite spong candy, as I didn’t want to drive 20 miles to Buffalo to purchase. So at 80 years old, I made it for the first time!
My tip is, after it sets in your parchment paper-lined pan, pull the whole thing out & place inside a large plastic bad prior to breaking up. No mess all over the kitcken! Then dip the larger pieces in melted chocolate & let cool.
We have this all the time here in Ireland but for us it is a particular favourite around Halloween. Chocolate covered it is usually puff candy and uncoated it is honeycomb. Auntie Sandra’s Candy Factory here in Belfast supplies it to our favourite ice cream store for their honeycomb ice cream – it’s addictive! Thanks for this super simple recipe and for the background story. I’m might make the pilgrimage to Buffalo!
My kid gets it every time we visit the Adirondacks. Love it!
Angie Davidson says
I live in Iowa, and have been making this since I was a kid. You can usually buy it at the Amish and Mennonite stores here, but not many other places. Might be tied to that community instead of being a regional thing; I know PA and OH have a large population also. I have seen other variations, but this is the exact recipe my Grandma taught me 35 years ago.
Is there a substitute for corn syrup? I am allergic to corn!
Rose, I haven’t tried this recipe using anything instead of corn syrup so I can’t say for sure, but I have heard that brown rice syrup can be a good substitute for corn syrup in candy making! Please let me know how it goes if you give it a try!
I just read a similar recipe that uses maple flavored syrup. Maybe a possibility..
This is called Hokey Pokey in New Zealand and is actually a candy bar there called a Crunchie Bar (I’ve got one of their classic tv ads here for your amusement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBHzBkcORjY)
Rose, you should be able to use “golden syrup” https://www.chelsea.co.nz/browse-recipes/hokey-pokey/
Golden syrup is usually available in your local Kroger store or if not, specialty cooking stores. It is made from cane sugar, not corn.
Thanks for posting this recipe! I am 61 years young, and I remember my mother having me pick out a good size chunk of this candy at our town’s local grocery store. The first moment I sunk my teeth in it has been fondly remembered all these years. It was the best stuff I ever tasted. Going to use your recipe to make some for our grandchildren’s Christmas stocking! Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.
Memmay, Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I have fond memories of sponge candy around the holidays too. I hope you enjoy my recipe! Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.
Natalie J Vandenberghe says
This is one of my favorite candies–thanks for sharing the recipe.
i can’t begin to tell you how excited i am to find this recipe. like you, sponge candy was a big player when i was growing up. when we moved to texas, we couldn’t find it (too humid to last) so we had to order it from buffalo, new york and have it shipped to get our fix that way. i never even considered it was something i could make!!!! ugh!!!!!
this looks so easy, which could really end up being a bad thing.
Sponge candy is my favorite! I never imagined it would be so easy to make.
Is this light and fluffy like Buffalo sponge candy or is is hard and crunchy like toffee? I’ve had “sponge” candy in Maryland before, but it is nothing like what I grew up with!
marsha cecil says
can u make this using light corn syrup
Marsha Ceil, Yes, this should work fine with light corn syrup! Hope you enjoy it if you give it a try!
Made this tonight, so good! Also so easy, I might try making candy more often. I ended up just drizzling them in chocolate but they are still wonderful.
[email protected] says
Love this stuff and fun to make, great recipe.
Mary Dolata says
Faith, you must be from Buffalo! I don’t think they have sponge candy too many other places. I grew up in South Buffalo and live in Williamsville now. Since it is so easy for me to get my hands on sponge candy I am not motivated to tackle making my own, but I was so excited to see this recipe posted. Sponge candy is too good not to be shared with the world!
Jeanette Craven says
I just tried sponge candy today! It was so good!! We have a student in Physical Therapy where I work & she is from Buffalo, New York & her mother made it! I am glad to see the recipe so I can make it!!
Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough says
My husband LOVES this candy but we always seem to have such a hard time finding it in stores. I think I’ll surprise him with a big batch of this!
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
This candy looks dangerously delicious, Faith! It reminds me of a Violet Crumble bar.
That looks beautifully perfect. I’ve never had this growing up, had it in a specialty store in SF and absolutely loved it. I tried it once and all I tasted and smelt was soda..:(..I can’t wait to try it out next week. Great job, looks darn good.
When I was growing up, I was obsessed with these candy bars from Australia, called Violet Crumble…have you ever had one?? I imagine your sponge candy is similar to them, and it’s bringing back the fondest of memories ;) These look amazing, my dear!
By far my favorite candy bar! Its so expensive to get a Violet Crumble as shipping and price are high. I am going to try this and see how similar it taste! The Violet Crumble is why i ended up here! :)
Kellie @ The Suburban Soapbox says
These look incredible! So hard to find because everyone sells out around here. I will be making these very soon!
Aunt Gretchen says
I am SO making this, you know how your Uncle Vince loves sponge candy :-)
I’ve never heard of this! I bet its amazing though! Love that you covered it in chocolate.
Divine and so addictive!