This is my take on honeycomb, playing up to my absolute love of salted caramel by incorporating a little smoked sea salt – an ingredient that is now readily available in supermarkets here in the UK.
Honeycomb is fabulous eaten just as it comes, sprinkled over ice cream, added to a rocky road, used to decorate cakes…..for me, I prefer it smothered in chocolate, as I have done here, giving a home-made version of the terrific Crunchie bar!
And the random shapes and sizes you get make home-made honeycomb all the more enticing.
Honeycomb also makes a wonderful gift: those gorgeous deep-golden shards, wrapped in a transparent cellophane with a pretty ribbon…..who would not be delighted to receive such a treat?
About the recipe
Many recipes call for golden syrup or glucose syrup in the mixture, but I always go for runny honey which, I think, gives a much better flavour.
You can use normal fine sea salt, or else omit it completely if preferred, but the slight hint of salt you get in the honeycomb, with a light sprinkling on the chocolate really does make the taste buds sing.
The magic thing with honeycomb is the bicarbonate of soda: once it is stirred into the molten sugar and honey mixture, it causes it to expand rapidly, forcing lots of air pockets inside, giving the lightness that you want from honeycomb.
Don’t panic at the thought of caramel!
If you have ever made caramel and got into a mess with it crystallising or burning, for example, fear not: honeycomb, while being closely related to caramel, is much easier and is practically fool-proof.
Recipe: smoked salted honeycomb: makes just under 300g
- 200g caster sugar
- 70g runny honey
- 3 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 1 teaspoon crushed smoked sea salt (or go to 1.5 teaspoons for a saltier kick)
To finish (optional):
- milk or dark chocolate, melted
- a little sea salt,
You will also need a large baking tray lined with non-stick baking parchment or a silicone mat.
(1) Put the sugar, salt and honey into a large solid-based pan and place over a low heat, shaking the pan from time to time to help the honey and the sugar combine and melt together: it will look very grainy to begin with, but within about 5 minutes it turns into a smooth, pale-golden liquid. Give the pan swirl to make sure there are no bits of sugar left. NB: don’t be tempted to stir it, otherwise the sugar might crystallise.
(2) As soon as the sugar and honey have melted together, increase the heat just a little and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer for about 4-5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling and has turned a deeper golden colour: be careful not to let it go too dark as it can all too easily start to smoke and burn, giving a bitter flavour.
(3) Remove from the heat and stir in the bicarbonate soda, beating well for a few moments to incorporate fully. NB: as soon as the bicarbonate of soda is added, the mixture will immediately expand and become very foamy.
(4) Pour onto the baking sheet(s), letting it find its own way and allowing it to find its level all by itself. NB: don’t be tempted to spread it as you will start to compress the bubbles inside, giving a denser, chewier honeycomb.
(5) Leave for at least an hour to cool fully, by which time it will have become shatteringly crisp.
(6) Break apart randomly: it is fun just to bash it and let it splinter randomly. You get thicker bits around the middle and thinner edges: all taste great. The sound as the honeycomb breaks is quite wonderful, too! NB: if you want to be more precise, use a sharp knife to slice off chunks (a bread knife is ideal here).
(7) Dip the pieces of honeycomb in melted chocolate, either covering completely or partially. Sprinkle a little more salt (smoked, unsmoked or a mixture) over the chocolate and leave the chocolate to set. Store in an airtight container.