This is part of our Eurovision series – offering you ideas for simple, easy-to-eat recipes when you’re entertaining a big group of Euro-fans on Eurovision Final night, or just set up in front of the TV mid-week as the semi-finals entice and entertain.
Hokey pokey, yellowman, cinder toffee, honeycomb toffee – whatever you call it it’s absolutely glorious and this is the perfect sweet treat to nibble on all night while you tune in to the Eurovision Song Contest.
There are few things in the kitchen that are as satisfyingly alchemic as making honeycomb is. From three or four very simple ingredients you can create something almost other worldly and so far from what you started with – a fiery, golden-hued moon rock that sings with sweetness and melts away in the mouth as you chomp through.
It bears all those tangible memories of childhood, where old-fashioned sweets were a real treat. Luckily, It’s also child’s play to make (though children definitely should not make this unattended) and we defy you to find a better ‘sweet’ that’s as straightforward and cheer inducing as this!
We love ‘yellowman’ as a title for this traditional treat – the colloquial term for this nubbly, aerated, dry toffee seems to have stemmed from Northern Ireland. Honeycomb is fine to use too, but gets confusing as that’s really more of an observation of the structure rather than anything else; there’s actually no honey present in any form!
We adore the affectionate name of ‘hokey pokey’ – made famous most recently by Nigella Lawson – whom we gleamed this recipe from and adapted ever so slighty with two addditions.
Anyone who knows us will be very much aware we’re #TeamNigella through and through. Is there anyone who champions UK comfort food more than Queen Nigella? We have an entire shelf solely dedicated to her cookbooks in our living room. We can happily sit through hours of re-runs of her TV shows. We’re addicted to her Twitter (and most recently her new Instagram) and it helps that she follows us back too!
Russell, the lucky duck, even got to meet Nigella at a book signing in Dublin once. He made her a small edible gift as a token of our affection and a ‘thank you’ for being a fantastic source of food inspiration for us. What did he make, you ask?
We’ll give you three guesses…
United Kingdom Hokey Pokey
- 200g Caster sugar (golden caster, if you have it)
- 1/2 cup golden syrup (about 125ml)
- A dash of white wine vinegar (or similar) and some water
- 2 heaped teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- Swirl the sugar, golden syrup, vinegar and a splash of water in a large, heavy-based pan until they’ve all dissolved together.
- Melt over a medium high heat in a large, heavy-based pan. At this point, get yourself ready with a wide, lipped tin and line it with either non-stick paper or a silicone mat. We prefer the latter as it’s so easy to break off (though they can smell and taint the flavour slightly the first few times you use them, so we’ve cleaned ours thoroughly over the past year).
- When it begins to nicely bubble, return the heat to medium low and pop in a sugar thermomether. You need to get this to ‘Hard Crack’ stage, which is 150°C, so don’t take it off too early or it will set soft and will glue your gums together when you try to eat it!
- Once at this heat, and a deep amber colour, turn off the heat, take the pan off the hob and get a wooden spoon ready. Sprinkle over the bicarb and stir furiously as the mixture blooms into an aerated mess about 3-4 times its original size.
- Pour out onto your lined tin and allow to completely cool before taking a small hammer or heavy wooden spoon to it and cracking into shards.
Why not sprinkle over some moderately coarse salt atop the sweet shards before serving!
For an extra indulgent treat, why not melt some dark chocolate over a bain marie and dip half of each shard into the chocolate. Chocolate-dipped honeycomb… mmmm!
Check out lots more of our Eurovision recipe ideas here!