Sweets for my sweet: Honeycomb, Caramel Chews and Peanut Brittle

July 23, 2010

Candy Shop

Right. Lets get down to business. Candy! Decadent, sweet and oh so naughty candy! I live for the euphoric sugar rush and love how it conjures up memories of a saccharine childhood (and the many painful cavities that went with it). Back then, sugar was my fuel. Lord help anybody who’d stand between me and a bag of Skittles. And yes, when it came to the rainbow colour of Skittles, I was a divide and conquer type of girl – first the purple, then the green, then red, orange and finally, the best flavour of all – yellow lemon. But I digress.

Candy Shop

 

I laugh now at how I use to eat a Crunchie Bar; by shaving the chocolate off with my teeth before slowly savouring the sweet honeycomb underneath. I remember all the kitkats and lollipops that I consumed ad nauseum while reading my favourite Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory over and over again (and of course I dreamt of owing my own candy shop). And oh! Clinkers! Eclairs! Fantales! Jellybeans! Redskins! There’s no denying it; I’m the candy girl through and through and I’ve always wanted to make my own. Time to live up to my (blog) name, I think!

Candy Shop

 

It wasn’t too long ago that I would seize up in terror at the mere thought of melting sugar. Oh the cursing at mischievous sugar crystals, the wayward attempts at spun toffee and freakin’ bloody caramel! That was one tempestuous mistress that I couldn’t tame until recently and I have the battlescars to prove it. Things have come a long way since then and now I am armed and ready with three sugar thermometers and way more experience (again, I reiterate, the battlescars. Ouch at the memories!). Sugar, don’t mess with this bitch now!

Peanut Brittle

 

I could give you some awesome, intricate display of sugar art genius but nah, I wanted to start off nice and easy (ha!). I can’t think of a better trio to start with though – peanut brittle, honeycomb and chewy caramels – all classics and never in danger of going out of style. If you’re a beginner like me, then these are perfect to kick things off because they turned out to be quite easy to make.

Peanut Brittle

 

The biggest lesson I learned was to trust my thermometer. So many times I thought mine were broken because they would rise steadily then stay put at the same temperature for ages (cue yells of “bloody cheap *@^%!”). Don’t panic like I did because it doesn’t matter if it takes 5 minutes, 30 minutes, 2 hours, or if it looks like the temperature is doing funny things on its way up, if it needs to get up to around a certain degree, you keep simmering until it gets there. And you know what? It eventually will.

Note about your thermometers: Before you start, always test your thermometer as it can vary due to altitudes and other pain-in-the-bum factors (and this applies to both analogue and digital thermometers). Because not every thermometer is going to read the same. Best way to test is to boil a pot of water, stick one in and check the temperature. Obviously the boiling point is 100°C so check to see what the number is on the thermometer then adjust the numbers accordingly in the future. For example, boiling water reads as 95°C on your thermometer. So if the recipe says to cook until 150°C then for you, cook it until 145. Always test your thermometers once in a while and especially if you buy new ones.

Also remember to always cook caramel on a low gentle heat in a heavy-based saucepan otherwise some parts of your caramel will burn before it hits the right temperature if the heat is too high. But as always trust your sight and smell over anything else. If the colour is a little too dark or if it starts to smell like it’s done then it probably is.

Salted Caramel Chews

 

The peanut brittle is straight forward so I don’t think I need to share any tips (other than don’t burn it!). The chewy caramels here are lightly salted and dipped in chocolate and reminded me of my beloved Pascall Eclairs or soft Werther Originals. I used a mini cupcake tin as molds then realised what a crappy idea that was when I found myself jamming a knife at the sides to pop them out. Which explains their none-too-graceful looks. I also had to dissect them so they could fit into the pretty little jars in the photohehe smart one Candygirl! Flexible silicone molds are definitely the way to go or better yet, you could just set it in a slab and cut into squares with a hot, oiled knife.

Honeycomb

 

This honeycomb recipe was the best one I tried so far. Mine set with good sized bubbles that yielded the most lightest and crispest texture without the teeth-breaking stickiness. But make sure to use fresh bicarb soda for maximum foaming power and don’t whisk it too hard or too long or you’ll just deflate it into a sticky mess (there are so many things that sounded wrong in that sentence).

Honeycomb

These all store fine in airtight containers for a few days at room temperature but if its hot and humid in your neck of the woods, stick it in the fridge preferably with those dessicant satchels to absorb humidity. I love gorging on them on their own but in the case of honeycomb, they are awesome crushed up and eaten with ice cream. This, my friends, is why dentists and I could never be friends… *sticks a caramel in her mouth*

Peanut Brittle
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Ingredients
  1. 85g caster sugar
  2. 1 Tbl liquid glucose
  3. 125g salted peanuts, roasted in the oven (if using unsalted, add in a scant 1/4 tsp of salt)
  4. 25g unsalted butter, softened
  5. pinch of bicarbonate of soda
Instructions
  1. Line a baking tray with silicone mat or baking paper.
  2. In a heavy based saucepan over low heat, add the sugar and glucose syrup and stir with silicone/rubber spatula until sugar has dissolved.
  3. Increase heat to medium and cook until golden in colour and in the brittle stage (around 150°C). Remove from heat and add the butter, bicarb soda and peanuts and quickly mix until combined.
  4. Pour onto prepared baking tray, quickly spread into an even layer and leave to set. Break into pieces to serve. Alternatively you could place a sheet of baking paper over the top and use a rolling pin to flatten. When it’s nearly set, use a hot, oiled knife to score into segments or strips. Snap into pieces.
Citrus and Candy http://www.citrusandcandy.com/
Honeycomb
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Ingredients
  1. 80ml honey (can be replaced with golden syrup, in fact I usually prefer it for the flavour over honey)
  2. 20ml water
  3. 220g white sugar
  4. 2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
Instructions
  1. Grease and line a baking tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the honey, water and sugar together, bring to a boil then simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes until it reaches brittle stage and a golden colour (150°C). Watch that it doesn’t burn.
  3. Remove pot from heat, add the bicarb soda and quickly whisk in for a few seconds. Pour immediately into the cake tin. Leave to set then break into bite size chunks. If it’s a humid day you might have to finish setting it in the fridge.
Notes
  1. Adapted by allrecipes.com
Citrus and Candy http://www.citrusandcandy.com/
Salted Caramel Chews
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Ingredients
  1. 250g white sugar
  2. 250ml pouring cream (35% fat content) – double cream or thickened cream can also be used
  3. 60g glucose syrup / liquid glucose
  4. 30g butter
  5. 1-2 tsps sea salt (to taste)
  6. 150g dark chocolate (66% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. Place sugar, cream, glucose, butter and sea salt in a heavy-based pan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and boil until mixture reaches 118°C on a thermometer. It’ll bubble up and simmer quite vigorously so watch that it doesn’t boil over. Divide amongst 24 mini muffin/cupcake molds (flexible silicone pans are best) and leave to set for a couple of hours. Alternatively, you could pour it into a small well greased cake pan and when it has set, use a hot, oiled knife to cut it up into squares.
  2. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, spoon over each caramel in the molds and stand until set. If you’re making a slab and cutting out squares, use your hands to dip the caramel in (quarter of the way through) and leave on a baking paper lined tray to set, chocolate side up. Remove from molds (if using) and store on a single layer in a baking paper-lined airtight container for up to 5 days.
Notes
  1. Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Citrus and Candy http://www.citrusandcandy.com/

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlotte September 1, 2014 at 16:14

Do you know if there is any way to make honey comb without any form of sugar from the sugar cane as I have bad reactions to sugarcane. Could I jst do honey and water and get it to the toffee stage then add my bicarb?

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Citrus and Candy September 2, 2014 at 03:04

Hi Charlotte, to be honest I’ve never tried honeycomb without sugar but using just honey is worth a try. Also I’m pretty sure there are plenty of sugar-free honeycomb recipes itching to be googled that probably uses similar methods :)

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Nopatience July 17, 2013 at 15:27

HI, AS I STARTED TO READ YOUR PAGE I GOT THE GIGGLES. I ALSO WOULD SHAVE OFF THE CHOCOLATE FROM MY CRUNCHIE, VIOLET CRUMBLE, COBBERS, CLINKERS, YOU GET THE PICTURE…. I HAVEN’T TRIED TO MAKE HONEYCOMB SINCE MY GRADE 7 COOKING CLASS AND IT WAS A DISASTER. I GAVE IT TO A TEACHER THAT I DIDN’T LIKE. I AM ABOUT TO TRY YOUR RECIPE AND IF I FAIL AGAIN I WILL FIND SOMEONE TO GIVE IT TO THAT WON’T TELL ME HOW BAD IT IS (MMM MOTHER IN-LAW?) LOL.

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Heidi November 30, 2012 at 04:43

Hi!
Can’t wait to make the peanut brittle, but before I do, I just want to check something: Does “Tbl” mean tablespoon? Please excuse me if I am asking an obvious question, but I am used to the abbreviation tbs and would like to be sure before potentially messing up all that buttery deliciousness.

Thank you for a lovely blog!

Heidi

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Citrus and Candy November 30, 2012 at 11:53

Hi Heidi! Yep Tbl = tablespoon and on my blog, 1 Tbl = 15ml. Hope you enjoy it :)

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Elisa October 13, 2012 at 05:30

Hi! I had honeycomb for the first time this summer and fell in love with it so am thrilled to see this recipe here! Can I replace the bicarbonate of soda with baking soda? I’ve never seen bicarbonate of soda in my area :(

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Citrus and Candy July 17, 2013 at 15:35

Hi Elisa,

Sorry! I swear I replied so I don’t know why it isn’t showing up. Anyway just to get the info out there bicarbonate of soda (as us Aussies call it) and baking soda are completely the same thing. :)

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Andrea S June 14, 2012 at 10:42

Hooray for fresh bi carb!!!! I finally got around to making another batch of honeycomb, and it worked. So bubbly. Thank you so much for your tips.

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Citrus and Candy June 14, 2012 at 18:46

Oh brilliant! Thanks for letting me know! :D

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Andrea S May 25, 2012 at 16:04

Hi there, i’ve been enjoying looking at you blog for a few years now. It’s fantastic!!! I just tried to make the honeycomb and twice it has deflated as it cools, down to no bubbles at all. Why is this happening??Am I not mixing it for long enough? I have used a thermometer, but maybe its the bi carb??

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Citrus and Candy May 25, 2012 at 16:16

Hi Andrea, there are 3 possible reasons (1) the bicarb is stale and lost its oomph so if it has been sitting in the cupboard for a bit, it’ll need to be replaced. (2) whisking in the bicarb for too long in the pan. If you do this, most of the initial inflation happens in the pan and it’s too hot for it to set. Therefore when you pour it out, the honeycomb sets while it is deflating. I know it’s a fine line between whisking it enough for it to be distributed and not overdoing it. Pretty much I give it about two vigorous turns of the whisk before I pour it out immediately. It’s something that I had to practise to get use to it. (3) make sure you’re not making honeycomb in big batches because you’ll have a tough time mixing in the bicarb properly before it stops inflating.

Perhaps try making a smaller quantity of the recipe and see how you go? Hope this helps!

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Andrea S May 26, 2012 at 09:32

thank you so much!! I’m off to Coles now for some new bi carb, will let you know what happens!!

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Christopher April 7, 2012 at 09:44

Loving the look of the website….. GREAT pictures. Attempt number 4 for me to make honey comb. Not boiling long enough every time. don’t want to burn it though agghhhhh.

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saffron December 29, 2011 at 17:59

Hey Kay, have visited here for a while, you have lots going on and gorgeous pics as always…

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Michael December 10, 2011 at 12:27

We had a “bring a plate” day at work yesterday for the Secret Santa presents handout. I haven’t cooked sugar for over 30 years but I thought I’d give these recipes a go.

I bought a Salter Confectionary (sic) metal thermometer from Victoria’s Basement. There was a choice of glass/alcohol and metal thermometers. The metal one relies on differential expansion and is probably quite inaccurate due non-linearity and hysteresis but is far more robust than a glass thermometer. It also has clip which gives some flexibility and control for placing the sensor.

So I started with the honeycomb (Thursday night). It went well enough but I interpreted “whisk” as a noun rather than a verb and ended up with a whisk full of honeycomb and uneven mixing.

The peanut brittle was a disaster – it spent ages around 120 getting darker and darker and then it fully burnt as it rose to 150. It never looked as though there was sufficient toffee to make a proper peanut brittle and a double amount would probably have not burnt. I didn’t have enough time for a second attempt.

The caramels went very well except the temperature never went above 98. It dropped back to 94 twice. My partner tested it in water and I turned it off at “hard ball”, which was just as well because it was just starting to catch. I spooned it out into silcone mini-muffins and a silicone chocolate mould and spooned the chocolate over. They had a pleasing “home-made” look when I turned them out on Friday morning. They were a bit large to “stick in yer gob” but they shut people up for 10 minutes. And they were seriously yummy.

The honeycomb was a disaster to serve. I’d left it in one piece overnight and it would have been about 13 hours old when I broke it up. The middle had turned back into toffee and the outside stayed stuck to the baking paper. It looked awful but if you persisted and peeled off a piece, it was very tasty.

I think the lessons learned here were to use the thermometer to determine when the mixture is going through phase changes and reactions (constant temperature) but to use time-tested methods such as colour, water-drop test and just plain old experience rather than relying on the numbers on the gauge.

All in all, it was 3 hours of fun.

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Andrea November 23, 2011 at 21:56

Oh gosh, sorry, I re-read your actual recipe and saw that you mentioned the syrup should get to 150 degrees. THANKS!

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Citrus and Candy November 23, 2011 at 22:18

Not a problem Andrea! Basically the caramel needs to get to hard crack stage to make honeycomb. Also the biggest tip I can give you (other than to use fresh bicarb), is not to make big batches of it. So I advise against doubling the recipe. It’s just that it’s difficult to incorporate larger amounts of bicarb quickly enough into the caramel before it starts to deflate.

Hope you enjoy it!

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Andrea November 23, 2011 at 21:54

THANKYOU.

I tried honeycomb the other day, thinking I’d read the recipe well enough to make sure that it would be a successful endeavour, but it wasn’t quite.

Do you use the thermometer when making honeycomb? I didn’t, and I’d like to know whether the success is more about the fact that my recipe was different, my bi-carb probably wasn’t that fresh and I didn’t actually whisk it so much as stir quickly with a spoon – OR to do with my syrup not being hot enough. All I did in that regard was make sure the sugar had dissolved, and waited until there was a faint amber colour.

Would love your thoughts, but will try your recipe even if I don’t hear from you.

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Gina September 8, 2011 at 02:27

I better stop reading and seeing those pictures of Honeycomb, Caramel Chews and Peanut Brittle. It makes me want to crave for them more and more..Yummmmmmy!!!
Gina recently posted..The Best Retro Sweet Hampers – What Must They Contain

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Adelina September 21, 2010 at 13:28

Love, love, love your creations, especially the honeycomb candy! I tried a few times making these but I could never quite get its light, airy, brittle texture with distinct honeycomb, but yours look wonderful! I have to try it again soon!

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sam @ cooks larder July 29, 2010 at 07:38

Clinkers delicious clinkers – I had completely forgotten about them! But who needs mass produced confection when you can have home made chocolate dipped salted caramels. I wasn't born with a sweet tooth but I certainly married one and gave birth to 2. These days I can appreciate the sweet and savoury things of life which basically means I love everything! These salted caramels will make husband and off spring very happy – thanks for a great recipe!

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bakeinparis July 29, 2010 at 04:14

Amazing post! Such elaborate recipes on sweets, love you! It has definitely lived up to the name of this blog :-) Beautiful shots too, Karen!

Sawadee from Bangkok,
Kris

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Rhonda July 26, 2010 at 03:18

Absolutely delectable!

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@bellyrumbles July 26, 2010 at 02:38

Glad I am reading this post now and not 3pm this arvo when I have candy cravings. All looks so delicious. I love making honeycomb

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Helen | grabyourfork July 24, 2010 at 17:00

I want candy! (sings). Your caramel chews were so deliciously good. The honeycomb looks fantastic too and the peanut brittle! Yum!

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john@heneedsfood July 24, 2010 at 08:37

Absolute perfection! If there's any left, can I have some?

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Swee San July 24, 2010 at 07:16

Honeycomb looks fabulous!

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SimonFoodFavourites July 24, 2010 at 00:44

awesome recipes. i want to try and make the honeycomb! looks awesome! excellent post :-)

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Mark @ Cafe Campana July 24, 2010 at 00:36

These look great! Can anybody else feel the diabetes developing?

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forager July 23, 2010 at 22:36

Gorgeous photos Karen! I don't have much of a sweet tooth but the photos make even me crave some candy!

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Poires au Chocolat July 23, 2010 at 15:13

Looks amazing! I've made honeycomb a few times but always found it tasted too heavily of the bicarb – I think I'll try your recipe the next time I try :)

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nikkyhall July 23, 2010 at 13:13

OMG as I sit here eating my 2nd Curly Wurly I think I need to come round, like NOW! You have clearly been missing from my life and I hope you're going to give us more to drool over (wont be making any by the way, Nigella I ain't but I can drool can't I, I don't care if you make me feel totally inadequate in the kitchen) x

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Betty@TheHungryGirl July 23, 2010 at 07:11

Omg! I never liked the yellow skittles, so we'd be perfect skittles buddies (if you wanted to share that is!) Gorgeous pics!! I want candy *boom boom boom chh* (aaron carter lol).

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Sarah - For the Love of Food July 23, 2010 at 07:05

I can feel my teeth aching just reading this post :) What gorgeous, professional photos! I'm a total novice at this kind of thing too but you've helped me get one step closer reading this.

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ladyironchef July 23, 2010 at 04:32

great shots Karen, Bravo! :)

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Ambika July 23, 2010 at 01:27

Oh my god!! I'm absolutely in love with your sweets…especially the honeycomb! Gotto try it soon :)

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Adriana July 23, 2010 at 00:28

this is totally unfair because i'm insanely drooling! that honey comb is calling my name… my mum would totally love it, i've never made it before but i guess I'll have to attempt!

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Kaitlin July 22, 2010 at 23:56

Goodness! They're all so pretty! You've been busy!

I haven't made honeycomb yet, but I have so been wanting to try… And I've never made chewy caramels right, but I am determined to get it. Someday, I suppose…

My friends back at school call me Candy (I'm innocent, I swear!), so every time that I see the word "candy" I trip up a little ;)

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