Angel Food Candy. Ever heard of it? Didn’t think so. But every year my mom would make this for my dad. It is one of his favorite Christmas candies. I never really got involved with the candy-making portion of it, since it’s kind of like a science experiment with very hot liquids and baking soda, but I have done more than my fair share of the chocolate coating portion of the recipe!
The first thing you need to do is mix some corn syrup and sugar together and put it over medium heat. Again, I had candy thermometer drama. This thermometer promised to go up to 420 degrees, but really, once it hit 200 or so it became unreadable. It said something like 888.8. Really helpful. So, I had to rely on the test where you drop a bit into a cup of cold water and judge doneness by color.
When it’s ready, take the sugar mixture off the heat and immediately whisk in the baking soda and vinegar. This is the part that freaks me out the most and why I used a big 6 quart pot. The baking soda somehow reacts and causes this whole thing to puff up. Which is awesome later, because it makes a crunchy, airy candy. But make sure you get the baking soda totally stirred in really fast. If you ever do not mix in the baking soda well and take a bite of candy later, you will never forget it. Baking soda does not taste good and I still have memories of this from when I was a kid!
Note: When I opened the cupboard we didn’t have any vinegar. My choices were white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or rice wine vinegar. Oops. I used the red wine vinegar and it turned out fine, though I would recommend cider vinegar or regular vinegar.
Did I mention, do this all as fast as you can? Then while it’s still liquid, pour it into a pan that has been lined with aluminum foil and greased.
Note: Don’t use a whisk that is coated with silicon. This is awesome for your non-stick pots and pans, but not for candy making. When I chipped off some of the hardened candy to test it, it also peeled the silicon off of the whisk. Whoops. I don’t think any got into the candy, but still, not good.
Ok. So now you let the candy cool. And hope that the middle doesn’t fall. This candy is light and airy and crispy and if it flattens it becomes dense and chewy. Dense and chewy is not what you’re going for. I was kind of worried because I didn’t know if I’d cooked it the exact right amount because of my malfunctioning thermometer. The candy seemed to settle just a little in the middle but not too much too ruin it.
When the candy is completely cooled you can turn it out of the pan and break it into pieces. I don’t like to have too big of pieces. I prefer 1-3 bites per piece.
I like doing this part, the breaking up. It’s kind of fun to see which ways the candy breaks when you stick the knife in. All different shapes are made.
Melt some chocolate down in a double boiler or the microwave. I used some Ghirardelli bittersweet and semisweet chocolate mixed together. Dip each piece of candy into the chocolate. I don’t like the chocolate coating to be too thick, so I try to shake a lot of it off.
After dipping in chocolate, set the candy on waxed paper to dry.
Wikipedia gives a detailed explanation of the science behind what happens with the acid (vinegar) and the baking soda and how it explodes and everything. It also tells how this treat goes by many names: sponge toffee, honeycomb toffee, honeycomb, yellow man, puff candy, golden crunchers, hokey pokey, sponge candy, sea foam, bonfire toffee, cinder toffee, Turkish honey, and fairy food candy. But in Wisconsin, only in Wisconsin, is it called angel food candy.
Angel Food Candy
1 c. Granulated Sugar
1 c. Light or Dark Corn Syrup
1 Tbsp. Baking Soda
1 Tbsp. Vinegar
Line a baking pan (I used an 8×8) with aluminum foil and butter the foil.
In a large pot (I used a 6qt) combine sugar and corn syrup over medium heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the side so the tip touches the liquid and does not touch the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil and allow mixture to hit the 300 degree mark (this is also called the hard-crack stage). Stir occasionally while boiling to keep the mixture from foaming too high. Remove from heat right away. Whisk in the baking soda and cider vinegar simultaneously ( I dump and pour them while Shawn whisks). If you’re making the candy alone, pour the liquid first, then dump in the soda. Whisk it in thoroughly or you’ll get pockets of soda… this would taste awful. The mixture will foam considerably when you add the last two ingredients so take care and whisk well. Pour into the prepared pan, try to pour evenly, set on a rack to cool. We found it’s better to NOT spread the candy with a spatula while pouring or afterwards – just let it spread on it’s own. When cool, lift out by the foil, peel foil away and slice on a cutting board. Dip in melted chocolate if desired – it’s great on its own!