It's fun to run across old fashioned candy in candy stores, but it's even more fun to make your own. And if it doubles as a science lesson for kids? Even better. Which is why sponge candy is one of our favorite homemade candy projects. You may know it as honeycomb, seafoam candy, fairy food, angel food candy, cinder toffee, or hokey-pokey, but it's all the same sweet and crunchy candy, but there's one place where it's always been sponge candy.

Buffalo, New York, considers sponge candy a hometown favorite. In fact, it's been around longer than the city's other, better-known namesake snack. In many places, sponge candy is served more like peanut brittle, simply broken up into chunks. But in Buffalo, the crispy candy gets a chocolate coating.

So exactly what is sponge candy? Sponge candy, or sponge toffee, gets it name from the candy's interior structure, which looks like a sponge or honeycomb, with lots of air bubbles. The bubbles give it a flaky texture. Ted Marks, who own Fowler's Chocolates in Buffalo calls it "a cross between a little fluffy meringue cookie and a malted milk ball."

The confection starts off like toffee; you cook sugar until it reaches the hard crack stage. But here's where the fun and science happens. You add vinegar and baking soda to the sugar mixture. If you've ever made a DIY volcano, you know what happens next.

The chemical reaction between the baking soda and vinegar causes the mixture to foam up. And while it does settle down, the air bubbles remain in the candy as it cools, giving it the airy, crispy texture and sponge-like look.

Ready to try your hand at making this candy? Here's what you need to know.

Sponge Candy Recipe

You only need four basic ingredients for the candy:

  • 1 cup corn syrup (light or dark corn syrup works here)
  • 1 cup brown sugar or white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil with butter. Use at least a 9x9 pan, but you can use a larger pan if you want the pieces to be a little thinner.

Place the corn syrup, sugar and vinegar into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and bring it to a boil.

Once the mixture is boiling, stop stirring it. Let is cook until it reaches 300° - you'll need a good candy thermometer to tell for sure, or you can drop a bit of the syrup into a cup filled with ice-cold water. Take the candy out of the water; if it breaks or cracks, it's done.

Take the pan off the heat and get ready for the fun part. Dump in the baking soda and stir. The mixture will foam up like a special effect from a bad science fiction movie; it's supposed to do that! Just stir enough to incorporate the baking soda; if you mix it too much, you'll mix out all the air bubbles.

Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and tilt the pan to help the mixture spread out. Let it cool completely. Then you can use the foil to lift the candy out. Break it up into pieces. Pro tip: save the little sponge candy shards for things like ice cream topping.

You can also dip the cooled candy pieces into milk chocolate or dark chocolate, Buffalo-style.


Sponge Candy 

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 15 minutes

servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda

Instructions

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil with butter.

Place the corn syrup, sugar and vinegar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and bring it to a boil.

Once the mixture is boiling, stop stirring it. Let it cook until it reaches 300°F.

Take the pan off the heat and get ready for the fun part. Dump in the baking soda and stir. The mixture will foam up like a special effect from a bad science fiction movie; it's supposed to do that! Just stir enough to incorporate the baking soda; if you mix it too much, you'll mix out all the air bubbles.

Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and tilt the pan to help the mixture spread out. Let it cool completely. Then you can use the foil to lift the candy out. Break it up into pieces. Pro tip: save the little sponge candy shards for things like ice cream topping.

Nutrition Facts
Sponge Candy
Amount Per Serving
Calories 430
% Daily Value*
Sodium 1071mg 45%
Potassium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 109g 36%
Sugars 70g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.