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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Hokey Pokey Turning Sticky

    i tried making Nigella's Hokey Pokey recipe several times today and followed Nigella's instructions very carefully. I also watched the video of her making it, and although i dont have a candy thermometer, I think I let it cook for the appropriate amount of time and to the correct consistency etc. However each time it failed to set; it always turned out to be sticky and stodgy, not crunchy and airy like its supposed to be. I live in Mumbai in India and it is unbelievably hot and humid here - could that have been a factor? If so where do I allow it to cool, in airconditioning perhaps? I also thought that I'd used too much golden syrup (i used Lyle's) and kept reducing the quantity but to no avail. Please help!

    From the nigella team:

    Nigella's Hokey Pokey (from Nigella Express and on the Nigella website) is based on a combination of sugar and golden syrup, aereated with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). Unfortunately we suspect that your problem does come from trying to make the Hokey Pokey in a very humid environment. All sugars, and particularly invert sugars such as golden syrup, honey and maple syrup, are hygroscopic. This means that they attract moisture very easily. So in very humid conditions the candy will just absorb water from the atmosphere and become very sticky. This is also why it is difficult to make meringues in a humid environment.

    We doubt that removing the golden syrup will help much and the syrup is needed as it reduces the risk of the sugar mixture crystallizing when the bicarbonate of soda is added. You could make the candy in an airconditioned environment but the air here will still likely be on the humid/moist side and the candy will turn sticky as soon as it leaves the controlled environment. A refrigerator also has too much moisture in the air to be able to store the candy properly. We would suggest perhaps trying some other candy, such as Nigella's Chocolate Pistachio Fudge (also from Nigella Express and on the Nigella website). The fudge is best stored in the fridge or freezer so may be better suited for hot and humid environments.

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