Sponge candy goes by many names, but the end result is the same: a delicate toffee made from sugar, corn syrup, and baking soda that’s coated in milk chocolate.
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About Sponge Candy
With a rich chocolate coating surrounding a delicate honey toffee, sponge candy is an iconic, unique treat all year long – but it’s especially good during the holiday season, as its long shelf life makes it ideal for gifting for a sweet and crunchy snack.
What is sponge candy?
Although this candy goes by many names (sponge candy, honeycomb candy, angel food candy, fairy food, seafoam candy, etc) and there are some minor variations, the end result is the same:
A light and delicate toffee made from a base of sugar, corn syrup, and baking soda.
What makes this candy unique are the air pockets. During cooking, the baking soda reacts and starts to foam, and those air bubbles are still present as the candy cools and hardens. This is what gives sponge candy its trademark look and texture.
Some recipes use honey for a sweeter taste (like the recipe featured here) and others use vinegar to increase the amount of air pockets in the toffee, resulting in a lighter texture. Honeycomb candy is typically served as-is while sponge candy, angel food candy, fairy food, and seafoam candy are commonly found with a chocolate coating.
Most recipes originated in the northern reaches of the United States, from east coat to west, during the 1920’s to the 1940’s. The name that’s used typically depends on the region, such as fairy food being common in Wisconsin and seafoam candy coming from the pacific northwest.
What do you need to make sponge candy?
- Baking Dish – I used a 9×13 baking dish, which creates thinner, more toffee-like candy. If you’d like thicker candy, use a smaller dish (such as a 9×9).
- Parchment paper or aluminum foil – For covering the baking dish and for easy removal of the candy from the dish once it’s cooled and hardened. If you use aluminum foil, I recommend also spraying it with cooking spray.
- Medium saucepan – For melting the sugar, corn syrup, honey, and water.
- Whisk or spatula – For stirring the candy mixture while the sugar dissolves.
- Candy thermometer – This is important, as the candy mixture should be heated to 300 degress F (and not more than that, otherwise it might burn).
- Microwave-safe bowl – For melting the chocolate.
What type of chocolate should you use?
There are many different brands of chocolate chips – even some made by popular candy companies – but from my experience, the best chocolate for baking, fudges, or truffles is Ghirardelli. It consistently performs well while baking, has a great texture (never chalky), and has a delicious flavor. This brand is a little more expensive, but trust me, you’ll appreciate the flavor and consistency you’ll get from the premium quality.
You can find their milk chocolate chips in either in the bakery aisle of most grocery stores or you can buy it online.
How long is sponge candy good for?
Once prepared and cooled, sponge candy can be stored in a sealed container on the counter for up to two weeks.
Can you freeze sponge candy?
Yes, you totally can!
Once prepared and cooled, sponge candy can be stored in a sealed container or freezer bag for up to two months.
Notes & tips for sponge candy
- If you’d like the sponge candy lighter texture, substitute the water in this recipe for white vinegar. This will cause the baking soda to have a stronger chemical reaction, resulting in more bubbles and more air pockets in the finished toffee. However, keep in mind that using vinegar will give the candy a slightly tangy taste.
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How to make sponge candy
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 1 – In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook and whisk the sugar, dark corn syrup, honey, and water until the sugar has dissolved – and then stop stirring. Insert a candy thermometer and then let it cook, undisturbed, until the mixture reaches 300 degrees F.
Step 2 – Quickly remove the saucepan from heat and add the baking soda. Get ready, because the mixture will start to foam. This is what gives the candy its trademark air pockets. Give the mixture a few fast stirs to distribute the baking soda.
Step 3 – Pour the candy mixture into a 9×13 baking dish lined with parchment paper. And like with cooking, don’t disturb it – just let the candy pool where it goes so that the air pockets are preserved.
Step 4 – Allow the candy to cool completely.
Step 5 – Once cool, break apart the toffee into smaller pieces and melt the chocolate per the package instructions. Dip the candy into the melted chocolate, toss to coat, then transfer to a piece of parchment to cool and harden.
Step 6 – Serve end enjoy!
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon water, or white vinegar*
- 2 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
- 2 cup milk chocolate chips
- Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil, extending pieces over sides for easy handling. If using foil, spray with cooking spray. Set dish aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add sugar, dark corn syrup, honey, and water. Heat and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Once sugar has dissolved, stop stirring.
- Insert a candy thermometer. While continuing to not disturb mixture, and allow candy to come to 300 degrees F. Be careful not to covercook.
- Remove saucepan from heat and quickly add baking soda. Quickly stir, but use caution, as mixture will foam; this is part of the process for the texture of the candy.
- Pour candy mixture into prepared baking dish. Once poured, do not smooth out or otherwise tamper with the candy; less activity will result in better texture.
- Allow sponge candy to cool completely, about 1-2 hours.
- Once cool, break candy apart into bite-sized pieces.
- Place milk chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds on 50% power, then stir. Continue to heat for 15 second intervals, mixing in between, until all chocolate has completely melted.
- Lay out a piece of parchment paper. Dip prepared sponge candy into chocolate, shake off any excess, then place coated sponge candy on the parchment paper. Repeat this step until all the candy has been coated.
- Allow chocolate coating to cool and harden completely, about 30 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
- If using white vinegar as a substitute for water, this will cause the sponge candy to have a more airy texture (due to the chemical reaction with the baking soda) but it will also give the candy a more tangy taste. Both ingredients have their advantages; use the one that best suits your tastes.
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.