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Recipe: Honeycomb - The Science of Sweets


You may not know this but in my day job, I'm a STEM Outreach Officer - this basically means I go into schools and get children more enthusiastic about studying science, technology, engineering and maths. One of the ways I do this is by combining science and baking. So as it is British Science and Engineering Week, I thought I'd bring a little sweet science to Clare's Squares too.

I make honeycomb fairly regularly these days as it is an essential ingredient in Honeycomb Rocky Road. If you've ever made honeycomb yourself, you'll know it's quite an interesting reaction. Honeycomb is made up of sugar, golden syrup and bicarbonate of soda. Golden syrup is hydrolised sugar, essentially the every day white sugar we put in our tea split into two smaller sugar molecules (fructose and glucose).

 Ingredients

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 25g golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • butter for greasing
  1. Lightly grease a baking tray with butter.
  2. Measure out the sugar and syrup into the pan and mix well before heating.
  3. Gently heat the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved but do not stir until the sugar has clearly started to melt.
  4. Turn up the heat and allow to boil gently until an amber coloured caramel-like substance is formed, at this point turn off the heat.
  5. Quickly add in the bicarbonate of soda and mix (very briefly) until the bicarb has disappeared. The mixture will be expanding as you do this. The heat causes the bicarbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate) to break down releasing carbon dioxide. This causes the bubbles. Mixing too long would let all the gas escape and would leave you with flat, dense honeycomb.
  6. As soon as the bicarb is mixed in, tip the mixture onto the greased baking tray. Don't try to spread it out, just leave it be. You should be able to see the honeycomb continue to bubble as it cools, this is some of the gas escaping. If you attempted to spread it out, more gas would be relased, leaving you with less bubbles.
  7. Allow to cool for half an hour before breaking up and storing in an air tight container.

Tip: If your kitchen is quite humid the honeycomb might not cool properly, and will become sticky and not brittle. Try to leave it to cool in a dry place if possible.

 


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