How to Make Sponge Candy

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Sponge candy is a toffee-like, hard candy that has a very distinctive texture that comes from a chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda. The candy can be eaten plain, or coated in chocolate.


Although Buffalo, New York is best-known for its sponge candy, its history remains a mystery. As Gary Whitt from Ko-Ed Candies in Buffalo says, "Sponge candy has an identity crisis." It is known as Violet Crumble or Honeycomb in Australia, Cinder Toffee in England, Sea Foam in the United States' Pacific Northwest, Molasses Puffs in St. Louis, Missouri, Hokey-Pokey in New Zealand and Fairy Food in Chicago and Wisconsin.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Heavy medium-sized saucepan
  • Large wooden spoon
  • Candy thermometer
  • Butter
  • 9-by-9-inch metal baking pan
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • Rubber spatula

Preparation

  • Preheat stovetop burner to high heat. Mix sugar, corn syrup and vinegar in the saucepan. Clip candy thermometer to side of pan so that the bottom of the thermometer is in the liquid but not touching the bottom of the pan. Place on preheated burner.

  • Stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow the mixture to come to a full boil without additional stirring.

  • Grease the bottom and sides of the 9-inch by 9-inch pan with chilled butter while waiting for the mixture to boil.

  • Add the vanilla (optional) when thermometer reaches 290 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the pan from the burner and add the baking soda when the candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees. Stir just enough to mix in the baking soda.

  • Pour the candy into the buttered pan using a rubber spatula to scrape the candy from the sides and bottom. Do not spread the candy in the pan; instead, let the candy spread on its own. Allow to cool.

  • Cut or break the candy into small pieces when it is cool enough. Store in a cool, dry place.

Tips & Warnings

  • The candy is water-soluble which makes clean-up very easy. Simply soak your utensils and pan in warm water to remove excess candy.
  • You can line your baking pan with a silicone mat instead of greasing with butter.
  • The candy will foam quite a bit when you add the baking soda, so be sure your pan is large enough to accommodate the expansion.

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