This year I made more gifts. I know, I never learn.
But this year a lot of them were edible, which is even more stressful given that you can’t make baking three weeks in advance…or rather you can but you probably shouldn’t.
Who am I kidding! I’d still eat three week old baking…and I was nothing like ready three weeks in advance.
But I’d left it late (again), and although I (foolishly) believed I had a foolproof plan things didn’t go quite according to said plan.
I was making honeycomb. Please join me for a blow-by-blow of this culinary melodrama.
All you need is caster sugar, golden syrup and bicarbonate of soda.
And you might also want one of these (optional).
So what if it’s three in the afternoon? It’s Christmas isn’t it?! Besides, you’re going to need some Dutch courage to see this recipe through to the end.
The recipe notes instruct us to be prepared. I was prepared all right. I was so prepared I had a couple of Crunchies in the cupboard on standby in case things got really ugly.
Got your ingredients measured and implements ready? Ok, here we go!
First and foremost get yourself the largest saucepan you can lay your hands on and shove (tip, pour, shimmy?) the sugar and golden syrup in it on a really low heat until the sugar has all dissolved.
‘This,’ Mrs Berry tells us encouragingly, ‘should take about 10 minutes.’
Should it hell.
Maybe Mary Berry’s hob isn’t the fickle bastard that mine is. In any case I spent a good half an hour faithfully waiting for the sugar to dissolve or do something other than sit in large lumps in the syrup.
In the end I had to turn up the heat to medium, panicked when it seemed to be bubbling before its time, then turned it back down low. Perhaps I was too eager, but dammit I wanted honeycomb before next Christmas and I was done waiting for said promised sugar-alchemy – I’m a woman of action and never one to hang around flaccidly when a situation gets sticky….*Rimshot*
After the sugar has dissolved you turn up the heat marginally, without stirring, until the mixture bubbles and turns golden brown.
Then you quickly chuck the bicarbonate of soda in, stir it like a maniac and tip it into your prepared tin.
If you’re a chronic overachiever you might want to place the honeycomb in a cold water bath because you read somewhere else on the internet that the faster you cool the mixture the more bubbles you’ll have in the finished sweetie. I also hear it helps to stare at your concoction desperately while pledging your soul to Satan in exchange for some sweet, sweet honeycomb.
When it’s cool you tip it out of the tin, unleash your inner ninja, and karate-chop it into bite sized chunks.
Mine wasn’t quite right. Maybe because I didn’t really follow the recipe. Or, as I rather suspect, it’s because Mary doesn’t want anyone else to be as good of a baker as she is, so she deliberately sets you up to fail in the first place. What a witch.
But, with any gifts, and as we are so often told: it’s the thought that counts. And beyond that try coating it in chocolate. Or booze. Or boozy chocolate, which should help cover up the bitter after-taste of your culinary failure.
You can follow Mary’s recipe here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/honeycomb_crunchies_45484 hopefully a lot more successfully than I did.
Whatever you’re doing and wherever in the world you are this Christmas and New Year I hope it’s one filled with love and peace…and perfectly tempered honeycomb.