'Tis the time to be mad-rushing about, trying to figure out what to get for Aunt Bess; Cousins Johnnie and Kate; the neighbour who is always shovelling your driveway; and the postman... Donations made in the names of loved ones are thoughtful gifts that perform a double, nay, triple duty: you feel good, your friend feels good, and a stranger is helped. Homemade gifts of food are always appreciated, even more so when they tug at nostalgic heart strings. Really there is no need to buy presents: the holidays are all about love, and nothing says Love like the gift of food.
I love honeycomb taffy: I have a weakness for anything with a loud crunch, so this old school sweet is right up my alley. It it isn't half-bad when it is coated in chocolate, but do use a dark/ semi-sweet chocolate, anything else would be sugar-overkill.
The following recipe calls for glucose or corn syrup: these can be left out altogether, if so desired, however, you will have to be extra vigilant when cooking the sugar (the syrup slows the caramelisation process). I tried substituting maple syrup for the glucose, but the trial was somewhat of a failure: the taste was lovely, with the maple ringing through the sweetness, however, the resulting taffy was crumbly instead of brittle. While the cooking of sugar is easiest if you have a candy thermometer, it is not absolutely necessary if you do not own one.
255g/ ¾ c glucose or corn syrup
285g/ 1¼c sugar
30g/ 3 tsp baking soda, sifted
Line a 23cm/ 9" square pan, or even a baking tray with baking parchment.
In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan (2 to 3L/ 2to3 quarts), mix the sugar into the glucose to evenly distribute it.
Bring up to the boil. Do not stir the sugar at this point, as it can seize
Place candy thermometer in the sugar so that it doesn't touch the bottom.
Let boil for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the candy thermometer reaches 150'C/ 300'F.
Remove from the heat: the syrup should be boiling vigorously, but barely coloured.
Add the baking soda, and whisk thoroughly to break up any lumps.
The taffy will swell up to about four times its original volume, and will take on a beautifully dark golden hue.
Pour into lined dish. Leave to cool for about 2 hours.
Break into chunks -you will probably need a knife- and dip in melted chocolate, if so desired.
Kept in an airtight container, placed in a cool, dry spot, the taffy should keep for about a week. If you are giving the sweets as a gift, place them in a zip baggy before wrapping them in a tin or box with a tight fitting lid. For extra insurance against the damp, fill a square of fabric with a tablespoonful of powdered milk, tie with some string, and leave in the baggy with the treats. When mailing fragile goodies, make sure you wrap them in bubble wrap before putting in the box, it will stop them from rattling around and breaking.