How to Make Honeycomb Candy

The theme for my latest recipe collaboration with Netflix is the "Science Fair."

This month, Netflix has curated a great line-up of kid-friendly movies and TV shows about different aspects of science and "how stuff works." They're a great way to reinforce what kids are learning at school, or even give them ideas for science fair projects and experiments that they can make at home. 

For my recipe, I decided to pick something that would essentially be like an edible science experiment--Homemade Honeycomb Candy!

Just about everything you do in the kitchen can relate back to science, but I think that the process of making candy is an especially great way to talk about science and chemistry, in a fun, safe, and exciting way.

(Plus...what kid doesn't like candy?!)

Depending on where you are in the country (or world!), this candy goes by a lot of different names--seafoam, sponge toffee, fairy food--but the sweet is the same. It's a kind of hard caramel that is then aerated with the addition of baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate). When the baking soda combines with the boiled sugar, it creates Carbon Dioxide that form lots of bubbles and puff the candy up. Once it hardens, the bubbles get trapped inside and create a texture that looks just like a sponge or piece of foam.

It's crunchy and sweet, with an almost molasses-like flavor. This is fun to eat on it's own, but it can also be dipped in chocolate for a little extra deliciousness.

Safety Note: This is a fun recipe to make with kids, but use your best judgement about what parts they can participate in. This should only be made with adult supervision, since it involves the stove and hot sugar. Older kids who can safely use the stove should be able to help you with the addition of the ingredients to the pot and keeping an eye on the thermometer, while younger kids can watch from a safe distance, and join in parts like the measuring of ingredients and then the cracking of the candy once it has cooled. If you're uncertain, I would suggest making it once yourself first so that you can feel comfortable with the process, before getting the kids involved.

Check out my step-by-step tutorial and recipe below. I've included notes on different scientific properties that you can point out to the kids as you follow the recipe.

The Ingredients
This recipe calls for three different kinds of sugar (light corn syrup, honey, and granulated sugar) which make up the base of the recipe.

Once the sugar reaches a specific temperature, you'll add baking soda, which will cause it all to puff up really high in the pot.

It's a really cool reaction that your kids will definitely enjoy (even grown-ups think it's a lot of fun!).

The Equipment
Like with all science experiments, you're going to need a bit of special equipment.

  • A Pot: The most important is the pot. Even though this doesn't call for a lot of ingredients, the reaction when you add the baking soda requires that you do this in a large tall pot so that you don't end up with a big mess. (I love to use a big soup pot for this.
  • A Thermometer: You'll also need a candy thermometer, which you can easily find at kitchen stores like Bed Bath & Beyond or even some grocery stores. It usually costs around $15 and is key for making sure that your sugar hits the right temperature. (These can also be used for measuring oil when frying, so you'll find that it comes in handy!)
  • Lined Baking Sheet: You can use any kind of baking or cookie sheet for this, just be sure to line it with parchment paper so that the candy doesn't stick. You can also use a silicon mat, if that's what you prefer.
  • Wooden Spoon: And be sure to pull out a wooden spoon or two. You don't want to use anything plastic, as it may melt in the hot sugar.

Step 1
Prepare your lined baking sheet and set it aside. Attach your candy thermometer to the pot. Measure out all of your ingredients and have them ready to go. This recipe goes quickly once it gets started, so you won't have time to stop and measure things out.

Step 2
Combine the sugar and water in the pot over medium-high heat, and give it a stir so that it starts to dissolve. You can point out to the kids how the sugar is dissolving into the water.

Step 3.
Pour in the corn syrup and honey and give it another stir. Mention that honey, corn syrup, and white sugar are three different kinds of sugar.

Step 4
Bring the sugar mixture up to a boil and then continue to let cook. Keep an eye on your thermometer.
You want the mixture to reach 300 degrees F, which is also known as the "Hard Crack" stage. This means that the sugar has been cooked to a point where, once cool, it will make a hard candy (like a cough drop). If you stop before it reaches that point, you may end up with something chewy like a caramel or taffy, which is not what you want for this recipe.

Step 5
Once the temperature hits 300, turn off the heat and immediately remove it the pot to a cool surface.

Step 6
Pour in the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and use the wooden spoon to quickly stir it in. The mixture will start to foam and rise as the carbon dioxide is formed.

Stop stirring, and let it rise to the top.


Step 7
Pour the candy mixture onto your prepared pan. Don't worry about spreading it out onto the sides--you don't need to do that (in fact, it's better that you don't so that you don't release the bubbles). Just get all of it onto the pan.

Step 8
Give the pan a little bit of a shake to settle the candy, then let cool in a cool dry spot for about 30 minutes, or until it sets and hardens. You can watch it as it hardens, and point out the bubbles created by the carbon dioxide on the surface of the candy.

Step 9
Crack! Once the candy is hard, use your hands to break the candy into big chunks (feel free to snack on it).  Look at the inside of the candy and point out the different bubbles and the change in texture.

Step 10
Eat and enjoy! You can dip it into melted chocolate for an added treat, or just enjoy it as is. Store any leftovers in an air-tight container; if left in the open air, it will absorb moisture from the air and get soggy. 

Note: This post is sponsored by Netflix. Thank you for supporting great companies like Netflix who make it possible for me to keep creating fun new content for you to enjoy. All photos, opinions, and recipes are (of course!) my own.

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Homemade Honeycomb Candy
Making this homemade candy is easy, but it requires a bit of preparation. Be sure to read the complete recipe and measure out all your ingredients first, as once you get started, the process goes by quickly.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup filtered water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions
Line a baking sheet or large pan with parchment paper or a silpat, and set aside.

Affix a candy thermometer to a tall stockpot and set over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and water, and stir with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Add the honey and corn syrup, then bring the mixture to a boil (do not stir). Continue to cook until the temperature on the candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees and the sugar mixture is a golden amber shade.

Immediately remove from heat and add the baking soda. Use a spoon to stir gently. The mixture will foam up high. Once it foams up to the top, immediately pour out onto the prepared sheet pan--note that the mixture does NOT need to reach the edges.

Place the pan in a cool dry area, and let set for about 30 minutes or until hard.

Use your hands to break apart into small pieces.

Enjoy as is (also delicious when dipped in chocolate). Store candy in an air-tight container. Do not leave uncovered as it will absorb moisture from the air and become soggy.

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