Did I mention that I bought a couple of new cookbooks recently? Oh dear, how many cookbooks can one have before one has too many? A few more to go, I think.
Two of my recent acquisitions were purchased in an endeavour to learn more about tempering chocolate. Even though I have had some success, I still don’t feel like I have conquered this home tempering business. I am still on a very steep learning curve. Maus and I are munching our way through my attempts.
One of the books I bought was Chocolates and Confections by Peter Greweling. It is a book by the Culinary Institute of America. And I must say, it is a fab book. There are a few ingredients that aren’t readily available in Australia but nothing you can’t substitute or make yourself.
Virtually every recipe includes corn syrup which, as far as I can tell, is not available here. What is readily available is glucose syrup (which is derived from corn). The brand is Queen and Woolworths and Coles both sell it. I got mine from Woolworths. It is in the section where the icing accessories are sold. If you go to Queen’s website, they tell you that you can substitute it ‘one for one’ in recipes that call for corn syrup.
Interestingly, my book notes that corn syrup is one of the most widespread food ingredients in America. And it is not available in Australia! How weird is that? The book goes on to advise that ‘glucose syrup, a specialty type of corn syrup available to professionals is not used in the book.’ Clearly, it is not readily available in America but it is freely available here. Don’t you just love it?
Anyway, back to the job at hand. I made the honeycomb (or sponge candy as it called in the States) and it was fabulous. Better than any commercial honeycomb I have tasted and it was pretty easy to make. The book rates each recipe by its difficulty, honeycomb was ranked one. That is a good place to start.
The recipe is in ounces and pounds. I have converted the weights to grams for those who don’t have ounces/pounds scales. Luckily, mine can be switched between the two measurements. To make this recipe, and any other sweets, you will need digital scales and a good candy thermometer. Temperatures are critical, and it is important you measure your ingredients carefully.
- ¼ tsp gelatine
- 1 tsp cold water
- 24 oz (680g) sugar
- 12 oz (340g) light corn syrup (Use Queen’s glucose syrup if you are in Australia)
- 8 oz (225g or 225mils) water
- 1½ oz (2 tbs*) honey
- ½ oz (2tbs*) bi-carb (baking) soda, sifted
*These are 15 mil tablespoons
- Grease a 9 x 13 inch (23cm x 33cm) baking tray with butter. Dust it with flour then shake out the excess flour.
- Mix the gelatine with the cold water in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Combine the sugar, corn syrup (glucose syrup) and water in a 4 litre saucepan.
- Stir to dissolve the sugar then stop stirring and bring to the boil.
- Cover the saucepan and allow it to boil for 4 minutes.
- Take the lid off the pan and insert a candy thermometer into the sugar syrup (or take the temperature of the syrup with your thermometer, however it works) and continue cooking, without stirring, until it reaches 280°F (137°C)
- Add the honey, and continue cooking until the syrup reaches 310°F (154°C).
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to sit, undisturbed, until the bubbling stops, about 2 minutes.
- Whisk in the rehydrated gelatine, making sure it is mixed in well.
- Whisk in the bi-carb soda. Whisk vigorously to thoroughly incorporate.
- Return the pot to the heat and whisk over the heat for 30 seconds. The mixture will foam up.
- Pour immediately into the prepared baking tray. Don’t use a plastic or silicon spatula to get the mixture out as it is very hot and it may melt them. Use metal or wood.
- Leave undisturbed to cool at room temperature for, at least, 2 hours.
- Invert the tray and tap out the honeycomb – it does come out.
- Break it into pieces using a big knife, cleaver or small hammer.
- Store in an air tight container or, if desired, coat in tempered chocolate.
If tempering chocolate is out of your league, coat the pieces in compound chocolate. Compound chocolate is not real chocolate as it is made with vegetable fat (more often than not, palm oil) rather than cocoa butter. The big advantage of compound chocolate is that it does not need to be tempered as it sets at room temperature. All you have to do is melt it and dip the honeycomb in it. Trust me, the kids won’t mind if you use compound chocolate.
I tempered my chocolate. The first half turned out fine (they are the ones in the photo). The second half was streaky (my trusty book shows a photo of streaky chocolate and describes it as ‘incorrectly tempered‘). Notwithstanding this, they all set hard at room temperature so all was not lost and Maus (who loves me dearly) quickly ate all the streaky ones so I couldn’t see them and get upset about my tempering (or lack of) skills.