Technique Post: Honeycomb (Candy #2)

We started with caramel, which is the highest sugar stage, and this recipe brings us down to a "hard crack" at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that when it cools to room temperature, you get hard candy. But the special thing about honeycomb is, we're creating a chemical reaction at the end of cooking so that instead of Jolly Ranchers, you get air pockets and more of a caramel brittle vibe. The same rules apply as before - avoid stirring so that it doesn't crystallize, and for this one, you'll need a candy thermometer to make sure you stop the cooking right at 300.

You'll need:
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 16 ounce light corn syrup
  • 1 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp baking soda, sifted
Cook this in a bigger saucepan than the ingredients require, and err on the side of deep rather than wide. A medium stockpot would be good. See the vinegar and baking soda combination? Like the volcanoes you made in science class when you were like eight years old? Things are gonna get hectic so you want some margin for it to bubble up.

Before you start, grease a pan - 8 by 11 if you have one of those (I do, and I'm not sure why I do), or you can use a 8x14 but it'll be a little thinner. I also sift the baking soda into a small bowl at this point so it's ready. You could sift it directly into the candy at the last minute, but I find that to be too stressful.

Put the butter, syrup, sugar, and vinegar in the pan and turn the heat to medium high. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted and the sugar is blended. You want one regular consistency. This takes about 5 minutes.

Once the mixture on the stove is melted, leave it, and watch it. It'll take about 10 or 15 more minutes to get to the right temperature, which, again, is 300 degrees. If it is boiling to the point where it's rising in the pan, you can turn the heat down to medium or a little lower. You'll still get to 300 degrees, and it doesn't matter how you get there.

See the mixture change? It will thicken as it heats, and at the end it's more of a syrup than a liquid.

It's at 300! Pour in the baking soda and whisk whisk whisk for 5 to 10 seconds. It's a cloud! You made a cloud.

Pour it right into the pan now. If you use wax paper like I am, make sure the wax paper is greased too, to save you a headache later.

Now set it aside at least half an hour to cool completely. This is where it gets hard as a rock.

Lift the honeycomb of the pan (and off the wax paper) and put it into a big one or two gallon freezer bag. Take a hammer - do you like where this is going? - and wack it all over to break it into pieces. Big pieces are fine, or small ones.

You can eat them plain, or melt some chocolate chips in the microwave and dip or coat them. I coated about half of them, so I used one cup of milk chocolate chips. You could use dark or semi-sweet, you could dip the whole thing using a fork to lift them out, it's up to you.