Craving something sweet I flick through my recipes collected over the years. There are cakes and panna cottas, that sort of thing, not what I’m after. What I want is candy and I want it now. I came across this honeycomb recipe we used to make in the restaurant. Immediatly I’m flooded with a memory of my mother making this for my brother, sister and me. As a child I remember seeing the magic and theatre of the bicarb going into the pan (I didn’t know what bicarb was, some sort of magic dust) bubbling up, like a sweet golden volcanic eruption. It was, for lack of a better word, awesome. Resisting the temptation to dip our fingers in we would have to wait. This is not easy as a child but wait we did and boy was it worth it.
The crisp crunch, golden colour, sweet honeycomb with a slight bitter finish was, and still is, a favourite of mine. Dipped in dark chocolate and then left to cool it really was a special treat if there was any left. I can’t remember if my mom made this for an occasion, perhaps we were good that week or tidied our rooms. Then I think back and maybe there wasn’t a specific reason. Do you need a reason to treat those you love? Seeing our little faces light up with the spectacle of it or waiting, watching, noses resting on the counter asking ‘is it ready yet?’.
This is a simple recipe but requires constant attention and a pair or watchful eyes. Caramel gets extremely hot so please take care when preparing and don’t get tempted to dip your fingers in. A sugar thermometer is very useful but not essential.
200g caster sugar
10g bicarbonate of soda (2 tsp)
Take a deep medium sized saucepan, add your sugar and honey and place on a medium low heat stirring until the sugar has melted. Keep your bicarb separate ready to pour in later. Using a pastry brush dip into a cup of cold water and run around the inside of the pan to prevent crystals forming in your pan and ruining the caramel.
Meanwhile, grease a deep tin or tray with some butter or a touch of veg oil. After a few minutes the mixture will start to colour and you will see that beautiful amber caramel forming. Put your thermometer in and wait until it reaches 150 degrees celsius. Alternatively, take a teaspoon and dip into your mixture, drop a bit into a cup of water, the sugar should ball and harden immediately.
OK you’re ready to mix in the bicarb. Take off the heat grab a whisk, pour in your bicarb and start whisking. You want to incorporate all the bicarb but don’t over whisk or you will beat out the air that will create that honeycomb effect. It will bubble up but don’t panic. Once incorporated pour into your tin and and leave to cool for about 1 hour, 1 hour 30 minutes. Once cool break up and start munching!
After making the honeycomb I decided to take some to my brother’s, well what was left of it. Showing him the shards of chunky, light, sweet, edible gold we both started to talk about mom’s honeycomb. He took one bite and his face lit up; I knew that as soon as the honeycomb hit his tongue and started to dissolve in his mouth he was, like me, transported back to our mother’s kitchen in that tiny village when we were kids.