Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fairy Food Candy



This candy is known by many names as I've discovered while researching recipes.  Here, in the Milwaukee area, we call it Fairy Food.  Other parts of the country call it Sponge Candy, Puff Candy, Hokey Pokey, Cinder Toffee, Molasses Puffs and Sea Foam.  Wow! That's a lot of names for the same candy! Basically, Fairy Food tastes like puffed and crispy sweet molasses wrapped up in good chocolate.  If you knew how expensive it is to buy good Fairy Food, you would know why I was on a mission to try and make it myself.

The making of Fairy Food is really a miracle of science.  Water, sugar, and corn syrup are brought to a boil and simmered until golden amber.  Then, baking soda is added and quickly stirred in.  The volcano that erupts in the pan when the baking soda is stirred in is what creates the marvelous sponge-like texture of this candy.


Making this candy was definitely a labor of love for me!  The first batch I burned.  The second batch turned out tough and flat but the third time finally was a charm!  Luckily, the ingredients to make Fairy Food are inexpensive - sugar, corn syrup, water, baking soda and a little honey. The only costly item is using good quality chocolate to coat the Fairy Food but you will only use the chocolate when the candy has turned out well.  The candy should be crisp and delicate when it breaks. 

Above is what a good batch of candy should look like.The candy should be about one inch thick with tiny holes, creating the spongy look.  Don't be fooled by the word sponge, however.  The candy should be crisp and delicate when you break it or bite into it.

This is NOT what good Fairy Food should look like (batch number 2)...


There are a few tips I can give you. Don't make Fairy Food on a humid day and don't make it in the summer because the candy could lose its crispness and become tough and chewy. That is why you can only buy Fairy Food from the end of September until April or May here. Also, make sure you have all of your ingredients and prepared sheet pay ready ahead of time as you will need to pour the candy out of the pan quickly once you mix in the baking soda. 


And also, don't be afraid of failure.  Sometimes, it makes us better people - with good candy to share during the holidays :)


I've adapted my recipe from several sources, working with different combinations until I got the result I liked best. 

Fairy Food Candy


After having some 'bloom' show up on my chocolate the day following coating my candy, I found this useful YouTube video on how to temper chocolate.  You will again need a candy thermometer, a step I did not take when I tempered mine, likely leading to the 'bloom' the next day. There are many online instructions available on how to temper chocolate.  I thought this was was very comprehensive.

 


(Adapted from Several Recipes)

Makes about 4 dozen 1-1/2 inch candies You will need a candy thermometer

1 ½ cups sugar
½ cups light corn syrup
½ cup water

1 Tbsp Honey
1 tbsp baking soda (sifted)

Melted dark or milk chocolate

Line a half sheet baking pan with sides with parchment paper.

Near the stove, have ready a small bowl of water and a pastry brush, the 1 tablespoon of honey in a small dish, the sifted baking soda in a small dish, an oven mitt and a long wooden spoon.

In a medium sauce pan with high sides (I used a 3.5 quart saucepan), mix sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water together. Stir over over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Clip on candy thermometer. Do not stir after it boils and you have clipped the thermometer onto the saucepan. Wash down any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan Heat to 250F on the candy thermometer.

When the temperature reaches 250, drizzle the 1 T of honey evenly over the top of the syrup and gently swirl the pan. Continue to cook the syrup to 275-300 - until golden-amber colored (or the first puff of light smoke that rises from the pan). You do not want to burn the syrup so watch carefully.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow to sit for about 1-2 minutes until most of the bubbling subsides. Put an oven mitt on the hand that will hold the pan and sprinkle the sifted baking soda evenly over the top of the syrup.  Stir quickly, thoroughly and vigorously with a long wooden spoon (the mixture will rise to almost the top of the pan). Stir until all of the baking soda is well incorporated and you don’t see any white spots. Pour the mixture immediately into the prepared sheet pan. Let the mixture spread out on its own and do not tap or try to spread it as this will eliminate the spongy texture that was just created.

Allow to cool completely, about 1-2 hours. At this point, you may break the hardened candy into pieces or score the candy with a serrated knife and snap the pieces into neater squares.
To coat candy with chocolate, melt about 6 ounces of chopped chocolate (either dark or milk - your preference) in a microwavable bowl or in a double boiler until just melted.  Add 3 more ounces of chocolate and stir in.  Keep stirring until the new chocolate is completely melted but don't put back in the microwave or back on the heat, unless absolutely necessary.  Line a small cookie sheet with parchment.  Drop pieces of candy into the bowl and swirl around with a spoon until well coated.  Lift out with a tongs allowing much of the chocolate to drip back in the bowl.  Place on the parchment-lined pan.  When the pan is full, place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes or just until chocolate is hardened.  Remove from refrigerator and store in a cookie jar or other non-airtight container. 

62 comments:

  1. Oooo. This sounds so delicious. I haven't heard of it here in Missouri. I will have to give it a try! Visiting, but I am becoming a follower. See you later!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know them as sponge candy..but have never thought of making them at home because it's quite complicated. I wish I could taste one of yours. They look awesome, Susan.

    ReplyDelete
  3. hello Susan loved your post and your write up ,the puff candies look great and easy to make , thank you for sharing the recipe, if you'd like to stop by sometime check out my post.

    http://maggiggie55.blogspot.ca/?m=1

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wonderful treat for the holidays. Catherine

    ReplyDelete
  5. Really beautiful Susan:)
    Look delicious!
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've never heard of this. Sounds delicious and so different than most holiday candies. Love your persistence. Not sure I would have endured the second time and for sure not the third one. Hope your holiday season is wonderful so far, Susan!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a labor of love :) Thankfully, the ingredients were inexpensive.

      Delete
  7. cinder toffee here in the North of England!... love it... it's like baking with science!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! That's another name I ran across. It was fun to watch the chemical reaction :)

      Delete
  8. A Crunchie bar in mini:)♥
    I have to make these! My mom did..and pulled taffy..you just brought back a wonderful memory!
    You are such a trooper!
    The boys will LOVE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Crunchie bar is another name that came up in my searches :) I don't think my mother ever made candy - lots of cookies though! The boys will be here tomorrow so we'll see if they like it :)

      Delete
  9. Oh that stuff is great, but I have never made it at home. I'll be doing well if I get a good day for making divinity fudge.

    ReplyDelete
  10. We call it sea foam. :)
    Often when making candy, I have a fail. Three tries is it for me. If it doesn't turn out then, I'm through! Looks like third time was lucky for you. It looks wonderful, Susan. I like the dark chocolate coating rather than milk chocolate. Florida is tricky with humidity. Always have loved brandy snaps, but they only hold up a few hours. We're having a cold snap right now...I should try this recipe now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sea foam is a perfect name for candy in Florida :) If the third try hadn't turned out I would have given up too.

      Delete
  11. I have never heard of Fairy Candy. It looks yummy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure it was called something else where you grew up, Bonnie. It is yummy - thank you!

      Delete
  12. Looks delish. Think I have heard of sea foam candy, but never have tried making anything similar. I like a good divinity but never made any myself. Never was big at making candy - think I am intimidated by the process. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some people (like me) love the molasses-like taste but others do not. The chocolate coating makes it perfect. You'll have to see if your local candy store carries it!

      Delete
  13. This looks so good! I've never heard of fairy food or this type of candy by any of its other names. Your perseverance paid off with a dish full of delicious candy :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe it's mostly popular in the northern states, Lorraine. It is delicious - thank you!

      Delete
  14. Your post couldn't be more timely, Susan. I am looking for a little treat to tuck into the box I'm sending to my family in Chicago. I had thought English Toffee but Sea Foam is a special favorite from my childhood and I think they would love it. Most winter days are humid here but I think I'll try it anyway. I can remember my grandmother buying me a little bag of sea foam when I went to visit her. Nice memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you try it and are successful, Cathy, please let me know! Thank you!

      Delete
  15. OMG Susan, you are amazing...I had this kind of candy before, but never knew the name...you sure were determined to have it right...and you really accomplished a beautiful texture...when looking a the picture I can almost taste it crunchy initially and melting away in my mouth...yum!
    Thanks for the recipe...and have a great week :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. this looks so good, like British crunchie love this name though

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Rebecca! Crunchie bar - I've heard of that one too, another called it Cinder Candy in England.

      Delete
  17. What a special treat! I've always called it sponge candy, but I like your name for it better! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Betty! I was surprised at how many names it has :)

      Delete
  18. Interesting! I have never heard of any of those names. Lorraine lives in NJ, so maybe the tri state area doesn't have it, or calls it something else? It sounds wonderful! I still haven't recovered from that marshmallow challenge...6 years ago? Remember, lol!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember ;) That would be interesting to know, Kathleen. I know it's called Sponge Candy in Buffalo so maybe that's what it's called throughout New York?

      Delete
  19. I have never eaten anything made with molasses, here in Italy is not well known, however, these cakes look very good, your photos are beautiful, as always!Have a good day my dear, a warm hug from Italy !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's made with corn syrup not molasses, Chiara, but it sort of tastes like sweet molasses after it has cooked. Thanks so much! Hugs to you.

      Delete
  20. These look amazing! Makes a delicious treat indeed!

    ReplyDelete
  21. That is so adorable, I love that cross section shot! Fairy food? More like Uru food :P

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    ReplyDelete
  22. We have been busy dipping chocolates too. I have done it for 34 years now but still enjoyed her little video. I never seed mine, just stir it until the temperature drops to 90 and I just drop a little on the counter and wait one minute. It has to harden or you need to wait a little longer. It is a delicate thing!!
    These look wonderful. I have eaten them but never made them. Yum - practically melt in your mouth goodness! We are more chocolate fans than cookie fans this time of year - or maybe I am just so busy with chocolates I make fewer cookies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen your beautiful chocolate-dipped creations, Jacqueline! Thanks so much for the tip. I think I need a new candy thermometer to perfect my process.

      Delete
  23. aw...looks delicious, I know it here are sponge candy! I use to make this all the time and have forgotten about it. Now that I see your post I think I am going to add this to my list for next week. :)

    Merry Christmas!
    Michael
    http://instagram.com/michaelswoodcraft

    Michael

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Michael! Let me know if you have any tips :)

      Delete
  24. I was curious about sponge candy so I bought some a few years ago. Very good stuff :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Especially with dark chocolate :) At least in my opinion\.

      Delete
  25. I've never had or even heard of fairy candy or its many other names. One thing I know is that I would enjoy it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's more of an adult taste too. My daughters never liked it when they were youngest but one of them just tasted this batch and has a whole new appreciation :)

      Delete
  26. I've never heard of any of these! Haha - but love it! How interesting - and I am a sucker for a good candy recipe. Thanks for sharing this lovely tradition. We can always use more fairies in our lives! Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi Susan, watched the video and learned so much, I have been doing it all wrong, no wonder mine turned out like it does. Never heard of these candies but would certainly love to incorporate them into our holiday baking. Happy Holidays to you!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Well Susan, goodness knows that those Fairies sure know what is delicious!
    Wow! I've got to get started on making candy NOW with your recipe for starters!
    Thankful for "Foodie Fairies" and wishing you a blissful holiday season, Susan,
    Roz

    ReplyDelete
  29. This looks like a great recipe to make with my young niece who loves to cook! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  30. This looks so good! I would give this to so many people as gifts!

    ReplyDelete
  31. So many different names for one delightful candy.
    This is going to make it definitely this year on our Christmas candy table.
    Thank you Susan, for the inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
  32. What a fabulous name for a fabulous candy! Out here in CA it's usually dry as a bone...definitely fairy candy making weather :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. I have never seen this type of candy before but they sure look delicious. Chocolate makes everything look perfect!

    ReplyDelete
  34. HI Sue! These look so goooood! Never heard of fairy food before, but learned something new today!

    ReplyDelete

I appreciate your comments! I turned off Anonymous comments due to spam. If you need to contact me regarding a recipe, please use my email address found under About Me in the tool bar at the top of the page.