Chocolate Honeycomb (Cinder Toffee)
Chocolate honeycomb, also known in my part of the world as cinder toffee, is a quick, delicious homemade candy.
Cinder toffee and Bonfire Night
As darkness descends on Saturday (5th November), you will find most Brits standing outside in the freezing cold, staring at a burning fire, waving a sparkler intermittently, and perhaps even letting off a few crazily expensive fireworks. Bonfire night, it’s called, and it is a popular celebration in the UK.
Cinder toffee is something we traditionally eat on Bonfire Night (sometimes referred to as Guy Fawkes night) but you can eat it all year round. I’ve made versions of it before, but never included a slathering of chocolate.
One of my favourite sweets (candy) is Cadbury’s Crunchie, but we can’t get it here in Sweden. No longer will I lament over this, because I tell you something, I don’t think you could come any closer to the real thing than this recipe. What’s more, you can make it for a fraction of the cost and know exactly what’s gone in to it.
I have to be honest and say that making this can be a little tricky (and messy). While trying to make the video for this recipe, I needed to make four different batches. Admittedly, this was mainly because I wasn’t happy with the video, but also because I burnt the first batch and overcooked the second. So, be very careful you don’t burn the sugar mixture. And, you don’t want to be leaving your utensils and pans laying around for too long before you soak them. Nope. Believe me, I speak from experience!
To make my honeycomb, I used something called ljus sirap which is a dark caramel colour. It’s common for people in the UK to use Lyle’s Golden Syrup in honeycomb, but if that’s not available, corn syrup could be substituted (I haven’t use either, so can’t guarantee the results if you do). Have a read of this useful article about the light and dark syrups available in Sweden.
No prizes for guessing that this didn’t hang around for long – it was absolutely divine, and as a team effort, we managed to gobble it up in a matter of hours. Addictive is not the word – you have been warned!
If you happen to come across this recipe during the festivities of Christmas, why not try my gingerbread version?
Frequently Asked Questions
What other names is cinder toffee known by?
Cinder toffee has a whole host of other names, depending on which part of the world you come from. Although cinder toffee is what we call it in the UK, the most common name is of course honeycomb (and no, honeycomb candy is not made out of real honeycomb, but that would be cool, wouldn’t it?). I’ve seen all kinds of weird and wonderful descriptive names such as sea foam candy, sponge candy, yellowman, hokey poke or even puff candy.
What does cinder toffee taste like?
Oh. The million dollar question. It’s actually quite hard to describe. It’s crunchy, but easily melts in the mouth. It is sweet, but also somewhat bitter. It’s quite the experience. One thing it isn’t, is toffee, despite the name.
What’s the difference between baking soda and bicarbonate of soda?
Simple answer: nothing. In the UK, we use the name bicarbonate of soda, whereas in the US, it is baking soda. Just to make things even more confusing, it can also be called sodium bicarbonate (which is its chemical name).
What is the science behind cinder toffee?
Making cinder toffee is all about chemical reactions. Adding the sodium bicarbonate to the boiling hot sugar causes bubbles to form and the mixture to froth and increase in size. It’s a very quick reaction, and one that subsides just as quick (so you need to move at lightening speed when making cinder toffee).
Do you need a candy thermometer to make cinder toffee?
I don’t own a candy thermometer, so the answer to whether you need a candy thermometer is a resounding no. However, if you’re new to making cinder toffee, it is perhaps a good idea to use a candy thermometer.
As the sugar cooks, it caramelises, causing the mixture to turn an amber colour. This means it’s ready. However, it very quickly moves past an amber colour to a dark (burnt) hue. If you go the opposite way and undercook the mixture, you will end up with chewy, soft or sticky cinder toffee. If you aren’t sure what to watch out for, a thermometer will remove any uncertainty.
How do you store cinder toffee?
Cinder toffee is so sublimely moreish you won’t need to store it because it will be snaffled in seconds. Seriously though, cinder toffee does not last very long as the honeycomb quickly softens. To prolong its life, store it in an airtight container, but eat it up as soon as you can. If you’re looking to use up leftover honeycomb, why not sprinkle it on a dessert, like I did with my honeycomb cheesecake?
Chocolate Cinder Toffee (honeycomb)
- 200g (1 cup) white sugar
- 4 tablespoons light syrup (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon bicarbonate (baking soda)
- 100g (3½ oz) milk chocolate
- 100g (3½ oz) dark chocolate
- Prepare a baking pan or tray with grease-proof paper. You can use any size tin (mine is 24cm x 22cm) but make sure it is at least 5cm deep, otherwise you could experience an overflow of molten sugar! Please note: the thickness and depth of your candy will depend on the size of pan you use. A larger pan will produce a thinner cinder toffee.
- In a heavy bottomed pan, add the sugar and syrup and heat on a medium temperature until the sugar starts to melt.
- Stir often to make sure the mixture doesn't stick. Continue until all the sugar has melted, is a runnier consistency and it is a nice golden caramel colour. DO NOT OVERCOOK! In a matter of seconds, it can burn.
- Remove from the heat and then immediately add the baking soda, beating it in to the hot mixture, then pour into the prepared tin. Move fast because the sugar mixture starts to harden almost immediately.
- Set to one side until it has hardened completely (about 30 minutes).
- Melt the chocolate and then pour over the hardened honeycomb. Allow the chocolate to set (it doesn't need to be in the fridge unless you are in a hurry).
- When ready, break into shards (don't use a knife as it will just shatter). The pictures in this post show very large pieces for photographic purposes which were broken into smaller pieces before eating.
- The syrup we have in Sweden is called ljus sirap and is a dark caramel colour. It's common for people in the UK to use Lyle's Golden Syrup in honeycomb, but if that's not available, corn syrup could be substituted (I haven't use either, so can't guarantee the results if you do).
- Disclaimer: I use grams in my recipes as weighing ingredients is the most accurate method. I have also converted the amounts to imperial measurements, but I have not made the recipe with these, so results cannot be guaranteed.