Known by many names throughout the world, this honeycomb candy recipe needs just a few ingredients to create a spongy, honeycomb textured toffee candy.
We’ve all had honey, but have you ever had honeycomb? A real honeycomb is a hexagonal pattern of waxy cells that honeybees make all on their own. Bee colonies use these combs to store their honey, pollen, and larvae.
what is honeycomb?
The female worker bees secrete the natural wax that forms the intricate structure of the honeycomb. Scientists believe that when forming each cell of the comb, the bees may focus heat from their bodies at certain points to create hexagons. Why hexagons? Science proves that they’re the most efficient packing shape. Charles Darwin once described the honeycomb as “absolutely perfect in economizing labor and wax.”
A typical honey collection involves spinning the honey-filled honeycombs in an extraction machine that collects the honey and leaves the comb intact. The honeycomb goes back to the bees for reuse.
can you eat honeycomb?
Although it may not seem like it, the honeycomb is edible. In fact, when our great-grandparents bought honey, they likely purchased it in honeycomb. Although it’s not as prevalent these days, you may be able to get your hands on a piece of honeycomb by contacting a local beekeeper. But it won't come cheap. Bees must consume more than eight pounds of honey to produce one pound of honeycomb wax! That’s why it makes more economic sense for apiarists to return the honeycomb to the bees rather than offer it up for sale.
Of course, if you can’t find it locally, there are many options for buying a piece of honeycomb online, such as the Savannah Bee Company, the company from which I was gifted some honeycomb a few months ago. Luckily, just like honey, it won’t go bad on you.
I first tried using a piece of the honeycomb by adding it to my tea. This was not the best idea. The honey dissolved, but pieces of the waxy comb remained floating in the tea. I didn’t try using it again until I thought to crumble some up and put it out on a cheese plate. It was a surprise hit, and my friends were intrigued. When paired up with other foods, the slightly crunchy, chewy texture of the honeycomb works much better than eating it on its own.
On the other hand, I’ve read that back in the day, after the honey was taken out of a piece of honeycomb, kids would chew the waxy remains as you would chew on a piece of gum. Personally, I’d rather spread it on some toast with a bit of melted brie.
When in England, my girlfriend and I found a confection that is also called honeycomb. We had never seen it before and Lyz loved this unique crispy honey full of tiny air bubbles. By the time we thought to grab some to bring back home, we couldn’t find it again. I forgot about honeycomb until I recently came across a recipe on Proper Tasty, a video recipe page on Facebook dedicated to English recipes. I had to give it a try.
Honeycomb, also known as honeycomb toffee, golden crushers, or cinder toffee, is, as these alternative names suggest, a lot like toffee. Recipes vary, but in the few I found, sugar, honey, and corn syrup are cooked together. Baking soda is added and the confection almost erupts out of the pot as it inflates. The candy is left to cool, and then may be dipped in chocolate.
Honeycomb candy was first mass-produced at England’s Cadbury Sponge Candy Company in the 1920s. Though it's unclear where it originated. It's also popular in places such as Buffalo New York, Scotland, New Zealand, and Michigan. Each has its own name for the confection, too.
While I wouldn’t lead you to believe that this honeycomb candy by any means compares to the true honeycomb produced by bees, I do think it’s worth a try nonetheless. And if you can get yourself some real honeycomb from bees, you should give that a try as well.
tips for making honeycomb candy
- Have all of your ingredients and tools ready before you start. Like most candy-making processes, you need to move somewhat quickly and don't want to waste time looking for a spatula.
- A candy thermometer is incredibly useful here to make sure the mixture reaches the correct temperature. Without one, your candy may not come out correctly.
- Corn syrup and agave nectar both will work, though you'll get slightly different textures in the end.