I am so excited to finally have a recipe for sponge candy to share with you! I have been testing out recipes and techniques for months now. I have had many failed batches and have spent quite a bit of time scrubbing scorched sugar out of pans. I am a total newb to candy making, and I tried at least 4 different recipes twice before I found one I was happy to share with you.

But, before we jump into the recipe and all that fun candy making stuff, let’s talk about Sponge Candy. If you are from Upstate New York, particularly the Buffalo Region, there is probably no explanation needed. This sweet Buffalo treat has been expertly crafted by longtime confectioners such as Watson’s, Fowler’s, Alethea’s, and Parkside, While many confectioners make and sell sponge candy, this popular confection can also be found in the bulk foods section of Wegmans.

These chocolates have a light-as-air crispy “sponge” of aerated toffee, you can find dark chocolate and milk chocolate sponge candy. If you have never had sponge candy, maybe you just know it by another name. The crispy “sponge” interior is not exclusive to our part of the country, in fact, it is known by a wide variety of names in different regions.

  • sea foam in Maine, Washington, Oregon, Utah, California, and Michigan, United States
  • sponge candy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, St. Paul, Minnesota, Northwest Pennsylvania, and of course Western New York, United States
  • sponge toffee in Canada

Ok, let’s get back to the candy making, First off, I am a novice candy maker, terms like hard ball, and soft-crack are all foreign to me. I started with a recipe that had “easy” in the title and required no candy thermometer. I actually attempted this recipe a few times before moving on, it resulted in a flat candy with little aeration and was a no go for me.

The second recipe I tried used vinegar, I thought that would combat the “flatness” of the first few batches. It did, and that is putting it mildly. It is shocking is how long sponge candy can and will continue to expand, even after it has been poured in a pan. Big mess would be an understatement for what happened in my kitchen that day.

With each and every attempt I was beginning to grasp the concept of candy making, and also discover where my challenges were coming from. I quickly realized with each and every single attempt, though, was that my smooth top electric stove lacked precise temperature control, and even heating, which was where the majority of my problems stemmed from. All of my problems were easily fixed with a cheap candy thermometer.  If sponge candy is your first venture into candy making, I can not strongly enough suggest picking up a thermometer, especially if you have an electric stove. I can also see where an induction cook-top would be very handy in this process if you have one.  I had a NuWave Precision Induction Cooktop, but sadly,  it mysteriously just quit working before I began my quest to make sponge candy, has anyone else had this problem?

Buffalo Sponge Candy

Preparation 0:10 2017-05-23T00:10:00+00:00 Cook Time 0:30 2017-05-23T00:30:00+00:00 Total Time 0:40 2017-05-23T00:40:00+00:00
Serves 1     adjust servings

These chocolates have a light-as-air crispy “sponge” of aerated toffee and are especially common in the Buffalo area.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp Gelatin, unflavored
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp baking soda, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate, melted and tempered for dipping

Instructions

  • Line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper, with extra paper hanging over the sides. Alternatively, butter and dust the pan with flour. Tapping out the excess flour.
  • In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1 tablespoon cold water and allow to bloom.
  • In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan with high sides, mix sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water together. Heat over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Clip on candy thermometer onto the side of the saucepan and cook without stirring until the syrup reaches 310 F.
  • Remove from heat and let sit for two minutes undisturbed, the bubbling will subside, and the temperature will drop. Add gelatin and whisk, be careful, the sugar syrup will bubble up. Sprinkle baking soda over syrup and whisk vigorously. Return mixture to the heat and whisk for 30 seconds. The sugar will expand in the pot, a lot!
  • Quickly pour into prepared pan, it should come out in a big blob. Do not spread the mixture, just let it settle into the pan. Leave the pan undisturbed, and allow the candy to cool completely (about 2 hours or overnight) before removing from the pan.
  • Either break into odd pieces or cut into squares. This is an incredibly messy process, but fun! To cut into squares - using a serrated knife, score the candy at 1-inch intervals. Snap the candy apart at the score lines. Then score and break into squares.
  • Melt chocolate melts in a double boiler (or bowl sitting above a pot of boiling water). Dip sponge candies in chocolate, tap off excess. Chill in the fridge to set the chocolate shell.

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1 review
What have you been cooking up? Share your recipe with me on Instagram using the hashtag #HomeinFLX so I can see what you've been baking!

With all my failed sponge candy attempts behind me, once I found what I think is the best recipe for sponge candy, I realized it really isn’t that difficult, and dare I say maybe even a little fun! After the sponge has set, the real fun begins! Breaking or cutting the candy is a messy endeavor, there will be a ton of “crumbles”, save these in a Ziploc bag (air is not a friend to sponge candy, especially when it is humid out) they are pretty tasty as an ice cream topping. It is fun to snap the candy into that well-known cube shape, and a good job for kids who want to be involved.

Coating the sponge candy in chocolate helps protect the delicate sponge from humidity, and tastes delicious. You can use milk or dark chocolate, to suit your tastes or mood.  Melting wafers are especially easy-to-use, with minimal fuss the wafers ensure a smooth and even melting. I melted mine in the microwave at a reduced power level so it wouldn’t burn, and no tempering is required so it will set up correctly and have that characteristic chocolate sheen.

Candy making can be tricky, but now that I have some basic skills and knowledge under my belt, I will be whipping these candies up as gifts around Christmas time for friends and family, I think they will be pleasantly surprised, or not if they read my blog 😉

15 COMMENTS

  1. I used your recipe tonight and it came out as expected. Accept I used dark corn syrup and I think it gave it a weird taste. Will try again with the light syrup. The consistency was perfect and airy. Thank you!

    • I am so glad to hear the recipe worked for you!!
      I think you may be right about the dark corn syrup, it does have a stronger flavor that may be coming through in the finished candy, let me know how it goes with the light corn syrup!

  2. Your recipe is by far the best I’ve found to get the light and airy effect of sponge toffee! I still however found mine to be a bit more on the crunchy chewy side rather than the light and airy side, almost powder like?!? Could it be the humidity in my house? We live in Florida, but I do try to keep the humidity inside low with low temps!! I use a cast iron pot and followed your directions outside of taking it off the heat at 300 instead of 310 because it was starting to smell on the burnt side. Any help would be appreciated!!

    • Hi Leslie,
      I am glad to hear you had success with this recipe! I think that the reason our homemade sponge candy seems “chewy” when compared to candy made by confectioners is due to the fact that we are making a very scaled down version. I have included a link to a video of Watson’s candy maker making sponge candy below, he mentions a few times that they do not use any of the outside edges in their candy, and only use the lighter interior section. I think the outside is more exposed to humidity, but it also condenses a little giving the candy that chewier texture. I am not sure the size that the batch would need to be scaled up to would be practical to make in a home kitchen, and I am also very curious what the candy makers do with the exterior part of the candy, they don’t mention that in the video ???

      https://youtu.be/-6uynDLSaSk?t=1m4s

      • Ok I had wondered about that also or perhaps they use more gelatin? I will keep at it and try some larger batches but yes I’m totally happy with your recipe and am so thankful I found it!!! I love this candy so much and unfortunately our grocery store no longer carries it so if I can make it from scratch it’s a win win!!☺ Thanks again!!

      • I went on a tour of Platters today and they explained that they throw the outside away because they haven’t been able to find anything to use it for

        • Thank you, Crystal!
          It would be difficult to repurpose the outer edges of the candy, it really doesn’t hold up well, or have much of a shelf life when it is uncoated.

  3. Made this today without the gelatin. Turned out amazing and airy. Used a candy thermometer. Very easy and delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. That looks a lot like the “Fool’s Gold” candy they sell at Silver Dollar City in Branson. I’ve searched online for a recipe, but everything I found said it was just peanut brittle without the peanuts. You can tell just by looking that it’s not exactly the same thing because peanut brittle doesn’t have that same texture, is thinner, and it is generally a little darker in color. Mystery Solved, thanks!

  5. This sponge candy looks perfectly mouthwatering and your post is so well written, photographed and informative as well. By the grace of God I don’t make candy often, but this would be an excellent place for me to start. Thanks for the wonderful post.

  6. I am SOOO excited to try this!! I grew up in Kenmore but have lived on Long Island for 20 years so I don’t get sponge candy from Watsons or Fowlers unless my parents bring me some. Thank you for investing in all those ingredients and baking pans!!

    • I actually enjoyed the process! I learned A LOT 🙂 You will have to come back and tell me what you think when you make it!

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