Sponge candy is a sweet confection which has a rigid, foamy texture as a result of a chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda which is harnessed in its manufacture. This candy has a rich, molasses-like flavor which many people find quite enjoyable, along with the peculiar texture, which is extremely hard at first, but slowly melts in the mouth if consumers are patient. Sponge candy is popular in many regions of the world, and it can often be found in specialty candy stores; a few candy companies also produce packaged candy bars which include sponge candy.
Depending on the region of the world in which one is in, you may know sponge candy as hokey pokey, puff candy, cinder toffee, sponge toffee, seafoam, honeycomb, or honeycomb toffee. All of these candies include the same four ingredients: corn syrup or molasses, brown sugar, baking soda, and vinegar. In some regions, additional ingredients may be added, and the finished product is often covered in chocolate for an especially rich flavor.
To make sponge candy at home, heat one cup of brown sugar, one cup of corn syrup, and one tablespoon of white vinegar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until the mixture reaches the brittle stage, around 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius). Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in a tablespoon of baking soda, and then pour it into a very well oiled pan to set. After the sponge candy has hardened, tip it out and crack it apart or cut it. Keep the candy wrapped in wax paper in an airtight container.
If you make sponge candy at home, be careful, as the heated sugar syrup can cause a nasty burn. Make sure that you do not leave it unattended while heating, as it can start to bubble, potentially causing severe burns. When handling the saucepan and pouring the syrup out, you may want to wear a heavy oven mitten, just in case some of the sugar syrup slops out.
The experience of eating sponge candy is quite unique. The candy squeaks when it is bitten, providing a great deal of resistance, and yet it has a strange frothy texture. As the candy melts away in the mouth, it tends to bubble a bit, releasing the molasses flavor. Some people like to add small chunks of sponge candy to things like ice cream sundaes to take advantage of the unique texture of this interesting sweet treat.