Welcome back to our occasional series, “How They Made It,” where we explore the food and drink of Outlander. This time we’re making Golden Syrup Honeycomb Candy for wee Roger. Slainté!
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Looking after wee Roger
We didn’t get to see enough of Roger as a child.
Yes, I know the show is about Jamie & Claire, but wee Roger was so cute in Outlander Season 1. Couldn’t we spend just a little more time with him? I loved the scene in Episode 109 (“Both Sides Now”) showing Roger helping to serve the tea and biscuits with Mrs. Graham. What a puddin’ face!
I imagine that the Rev. Wakefield and Mrs. Graham, though strict, would allow Roger a treat or two, and maybe one of those treats would be Golden Syrup Honeycomb Candy.
By any other name, a light and crunchy candy
What is Honeycomb Candy? You might know it from a different name: Honeycomb Toffee, Cinder Toffee, Sponge Toffee, Sponge Candy, or Hokey Pokey (my personal favorite!).
Whatever you call it, it’s a light, brittle, sponge-like candy that has flavors ranging from caramel to toasted molasses. It is said to have originated in Buffalo, NY in the early 20th century, although its actual history is murky. All I know is that it’s super easy to make, and fun to boot.
The thing you need to know about candymaking is that it’s not hard, as long as you’re paying attention.
Here’s a quote from the Exploratorium: “As a sugar syrup is cooked, water boils away, the sugar concentration increases, and the temperature rises. The highest temperature that the sugar syrup reaches tells you what the syrup will be like when it cools. In fact, that’s how each of the temperature stages…is named.”
It’s important to have an accurate way of measuring the candy temperature, and that’s where a good quality candy thermometer comes in handy. Not only will it tell you the temperature, but it will have the candy stages marked, from from thread to hard-crack.
Oh, and I’m using Lyle’s Golden Syrup here because (a) I thought it would add a nice buttery flavor to the candy, and (b) it’s a nod to the candy being made for Wee Roger. I’m imagining that’s what Mrs. Graham would have used.
Let’s get to making Honeycomb Candy
It’s the hard-crack stage we’re using for Honeycomb Candy (and no, I’m not referring to illicit drugs!).
At these temperatures (300° F–310° F), almost no water is left in the syrup and the candy will form hard, brittle threads that break when bent.
But we have a secret weapon. By adding baking soda, the sugar syrup will foam up before it has a chance to cool and set, and that’s where that sponge-like texture comes from. Neat, huh!
When I spread the foaming candy out over my half sheet baking pan, I left it thick in some places and thin in others. If you prefer an even thickness, pour the candy into an 8- x 8-inch baking pan that’s been lined with parchment paper. Don’t mess with the parchment paper too much — the candy will weigh it down.
When the Honeycomb Candy is cool, break it up into bite-sized pieces. You can even whack it with a hammer (hey, it’s therapeutic!).
And don’t stress out over cleaning the saucepan when you’re done pouring out the candy. Just fill it about 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. The candy will melt into the boiling water, and you just pour it away. Easy Peasy!
Golden Syrup Honeycomb Candy is richly flavored, with hints of butterscotch, molasses, and caramel all in one. It’s like a cross between peanut brittle and molasses cookies.
The golden syrup definitely has an influence here, and you could substitute honey, maple syrup, or corn syrup instead. Each will impart its own taste on the candy (corn syrup the least), so experiment and have fun with it!
If you want some ideas for other easy treats that use the candy thermometer (albeit, to the soft-ball stage), try Pecan Pralines, Irish Whiskey Marshmallows (you can leave out the whiskey if you prefer), or even a basic Caramel Sauce.
For more recipes using Lyle’s Golden Syrup, try the ever-popular Sticky Toffee Pudding, British Flapjacks, or Harry Potter’s favorite dessert at Hogwarts, Treacle Tarts.
So maybe, instead of a biscuit, Mrs. Graham offered Golden Syrup Honeycomb Candy to Frank, the Rev. Wakefield, and wee Roger. I imagine they’d love it.
Try it and see for yourself!
What was your favorite candy as a child?
Golden Syrup Honeycomb Candy
- half sheet baking pan
- Silpat silicone mat or parchment paper
- candy thermometer
- 1 cup granulated sugar, (7 oz, 200g)
- 5 Tbsp golden syrup, or honey, see Recipe Notes (3¾ oz, 100g)
- ¼ cup water, (2 oz, 56g)
- 2 tsp baking soda, (¾ oz, 9g)
- Have your half sheet baking pan lined with a Silpat silicone mat or parchment paper ready.
- In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, golden syrup, and water. Heat over Medium heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then attach the candy thermometer to the side of the pan so it’s not touching the bottom of the pan. Without stirring, heat the mixture until it reaches 300°F (the hard crack stage). This should take about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the baking soda. The mixture will foam up a lot, so be prepared. Stir quickly just until the baking soda is mixed in but don’t overmix – you don’t want your candy to deflate.
- Pour the candy onto the half sheet baking pan, spreading it out if desired. You can have it thick or thin, depending on your preferences.
- Allow the candy to become hard and brittle (it takes about an hour), then break into bite-sized pieces. If it’s a humid day, the candy can get sticky.
- Store the candy in an airtight container on the counter. It will keep for several days.
Discovering Outlander after Season 1 first aired, Tammy quickly went down the rabbit-hole on social media and podcasts and found a world of like-minded fans who not only tolerated her obsession, but encouraged the madness! She combined her Outlander-inspired interest for scotch whisky with her continuing passion for baking in her blog, Scotch & Scones…Explorations in a glass and in the oven. Joining the staff of Outlander Cast as the resident baker has brought Tammy full circle, from a podcast fan to a contributing writer. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest at @scotch_scones, and find her on Facebook at @scotchandsconesblog.
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