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Hokey Pokey Never Seems to Work

Asked by Oceanic-815. Answered on 31st May 2011

Full question

Hi Team Nigella. I've tried numerous times to make Nigella's Hokey Pokey (from Nigella Express, p281) but it never seems to harden and crispen upon cooling. It always stays soft and gooey even though I follow the recipe to the letter. Yesterday I did some research on this recipe and found that I am far from alone. Apparently, the honeycomb will work if you reduce the amount of golden syrup to 2tbsp (instead of 4tbsp) and increase the bicarb of soda to a heaped tbsp (instead of 1 1/2 tsp). I tried it and it did work but I had horrible burping for hours afterwards! I suspect it's because I used too much bicarb, yet it's the only thing that seems to have worked for me. Any help?

I've tried making your Hokey Pokey recipe and the Honeycomb didn't set hard, is it because I didn't cook it long enough? Shireeg

Our answer

For Hokey Pokey the crispness will mainly be dictated by the cooking time, but the golden syrup is there to make sure that it stays slightly soft as the invert sugar in golden syrup will stop the honeycomb from becoming too brittle. The boiling time will also be affected by the size of saucepan used, a pan with a larger diameter will take less time to boil to the correct consistency than a smaller pan. If you are in a humid environment then it may also be more difficult to get the honeycomb to set.

The bicarbonate of soda is used to aerate the mixture but we don't think that increasing it is particularly necessary and larger quantities will leave a bitter taste. It is fine to reduce the golden syrup from 4 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons. Make sure that the sugar has fully dissolved before boiling the mixture and swirl the ingredients in the pan rather than stirring them. Once the mixture is boiling make sure that it turns a few shades darker (to a maple syrup colour) before removing it from the heat - again you can swirl the pan once or twice if you feel that the outside of the mixture is becoming too dark while the inside is still a paler gold. After adding the bicarbonate of soda try to set the honeycomb in a cool, dry place.

You could also try Nigella's Peanut Brittle With Art and Soup from Christmas (p24) and see out tips for making this in the Kitchen Queries archive.

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