Sponge Candy with Fleur de Sel and Spices (also known as Sea Foam Candy and Honeycomb Candy) is a brittle-like candy that is easy to make at home, with a unique crispy-melty-crunchy texture. Affiliate links were used to link to items I am discussing in this post.
Guys I think I have the Plague. Seriously, I have been coughing for so long now it is a wonder a lung has not come up. So, as always, sorry about the wait between posts.
I do have some exciting news though. The kitchen is being painted this week! And the chimney cover (don’t ask why that took so long because I have no good explanation) will hopefully be ready next week. Maybe I will actually have “after” pictures of my kitchen by the end of the summer!
This picture makes me super happy, as it shows the new cooktop with backsplash nicely, and it shows Skadi doing something Loki always did that made me laugh. She wants my attention so she has moved to what I am watching (I was cooking at the time so those burners are running) and sat in front of it staring at me. Like hey look at me instead! It just cracks me up.
OK on to Sponge Candy. Or Seafoam/Sea Foam Candy. Or Honeycomb Candy. Or whatever you grew up calling it. Let me tell you, it made naming this post a pain! I think of it as Seafoam Candy, but a quick check with Google told me Sponge seems to be the preferred term, at least in terms of Google searches, so that is what I went with. Whatever you call it, this is the “brittle” that is not really brittle courtesy of baking soda, which gives it layers and pockets of air, radically changing its texture.
I have to pause here for a public service announcement on the topic of candy making. I have always heard you should not make candy when it is raining–but I have made marshmallows successfully in winter rain, when the heat is running (and drying my house out) many times. So I tried the other day to make a batch of Sponge Candy with vanilla salt and cacao nibs–and it was cool and rainy. It was a disaster. Presumably the cool kept the air conditioning from running much (and drying the house out) and all of that humidity in the air meant the candy never dried out and stayed super sticky. And the weight of the moisture caused it to sink and lose its distinctive holes.
So yeah that batch got thrown out and lesson learned. Do not make sponge candy if it is raining–unless it is cold enough for your heat to run, in which case give it a try and report back.
This sponge candy is distinct from others for its copious use of vinegar. The vinegar encourages the baking soda aerating action, but I have seen many sponge candy recipes without vinegar, so I do not think it is necessary (I have read that super high temperatures will activate the baking soda). It does, however, give it a unique flavor. Indeed, I found this recipe in Michael Harlan Turkell’s Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar: With Recipes from Leading Chefs, Insights from Top Producers, and Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Make Your Own, a cleverly titled cookbook perfect for a vinegar lover like myself. This specific recipe is from Aaron Cazadd, a chef in Clarkston, Michigan (which means of course he calls it Sea Foam Candy, as most Michiganders do I believe). It is also from him that I got the idea of all of the various toppings. As many of you know, I often find plain candy way too sweet, even when homemade, so I am always looking for ways of gussying it up and making it more interesting to my palate.
The trickiest thing about making sponge candy is getting the baking soda completely whisked in without over-whisking it. My instinct was to stop too soon, and twice I have thrown out batches of the stuff because it was full of clumps of baking soda (even after whisking the baking soda first). Having said that, you need to spread the candy out onto your baking sheet immediately after whisking because you want to let the baking soda do its job and create those lovely pockets of air that give it its distinct crispy-melty-crunchy texture. So I guess my best advice is practice–and remember if you do have to toss a batch, it is just sugar with some vinegar. Not exactly caviar.
As far as toppings go, I encourage you to experiment. I was unexpectedly delighted by the toasted fennel seeds–and I do not even like licorice flavors! All of my candy almost always has salt on it, because I like to temper the sweet with salt. I chose to sprinkle some with Aleppo pepper flakes and some with chipotle pepper flakes–both were tasty although the chipotle was borderline too spicy for us. I had the idea to try cacao nibs and that was the batch that failed from the rain, although I feel confident it would have worked. Sponge candy is often dipped in chocolate and I was looking for a summertime friendly alternative since the chocolate gets melty in the heat. I also like the fact that the cacao nibs would offer contrasting bitterness to the sweet candy. Acid Trip also suggested edible flowers like lavender as a topping so I have included that below. If you come up with any other delicious toppings please let us know in the comments!
Also known as Sea Foam Candy, Honeycomb Candy and probably even more crazy names! Closely adapted from Michael Harlan Turkell, who adapted from Aaron Cozadd.
- 2 1/4 cups (450 g) sugar
- 3 T honey or corn syrup (do not use honey if you want it to be vegan)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (try experimenting with different vinegars for different flavors)
- 1 cup water
- 4 t baking soda (sifted and clump free)
- Fleur de sel (or vanilla salt or some other flaky sea salt)
- toasted fennel seeds
- Aleppo pepper flakes
- Chipotle pepper flakes
- cacao nibs
- edible flowers
Place a silicone mat (or parchment paper) in the bottom of a rimmed cookie sheet. Set aside.
Combine everything but the baking soda in a deep, straight-sided pot, 3-4 qts. Place a heatproof brush with a small bowl of water, a whisk and a heatproof spatula within reach.
Place the pot over high heat and cover. Bring the mixture to a boil and let stay covered for 3-4 minutes. Then remove the cover and use the heatproof brush to lightly and quickly brush the sides of the pot with a little water to prevent crystals.
Attach a candy thermometer to the sides of the pot. Boil until the temperature reaches 290 F (145 C).
Carefully and quickly whisk the baking soda into the boiling mixture (I left it on the burner but lowered the heat a bit). You want to stir quickly enough that the baking soda is evenly dispersed, but then stop just as quickly because you do not want to break the wonderful bubbles that are forming (they will form the distinct texture of this candy). Making sure your baking soda is clump free will help with this.
Immediately after whisking pour the mixture out onto your prepared cookie sheet. Use the heatproof spatula to quickly scrape all of the candy out of the pot.
Quickly sprinkle your toppings over the setting candy. It is important to sprinkle the toppings before the candy sets too much so they will adhere.
Let cool for 45-60 minutes before breaking the candy into irregular pieces. Store in an airtight container--it will keep a long time.
Looking for a Sponge Candy with Fleur de Sel and Spices collage to pin?
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