Massive fail 3 times on this recipe! What am I doing wrong? The first time it frothed up beautifully with the bicarb but tasted like burnt sugar - not pleasant. Assuming I have overcooked it, the second time, I let it cook less but hardly any froth and just a runny liquid. 3rd time similar. The recipe says, let the sugar and syrup melt, then turn to goo then a bubbling mass. When it is in the pan, I have parts that are still yet to melt and parts that are already bubbling. Adjusting the heat doesn't seem to work. I love love love honeycomb and really want to make this!
Nigella's Hokey Pokey (from Nigella Express and on the Nigella website) is made by boiling a sugar syrup mixture until it reaches what is known as "hard crack" stage. This will give the candy its crispness once the bicarbonate of soda has been added. However we would first mention that you should make sure that all of the sugar has melted completely before you bring the mixture to a boil.
Warm the sugar and syrup on a low heat. At this point you can stir very occasionally. Make sure all of the sugar has melted completely then turn up the heat and bring it to a boil. If you find that the mixture is darkening in spots quickly then you can swirl the pan once or twice, but don't stir. The mixture will boil quite vigourously and should turn a maple syrup/chestnut colour as it reaches hard crack stage. A sugar/candy thermometer may be helpful and the mixture should boil to 150-154c/300-310F. If you don't have a thermometer then you can do a test with a cold glass of water. Take the pan off the heat and very carefully use a spoon to let a couple of drops of the mixture drip into a glass of cold water (don't let the syrup touch the glass). If the mixture forms threads that snap easily when you take them out of the water then it is ready. If it forms a ball or soft threads then it needs to be boiled for slightly longer. If the mixture becomes dark and starts to smoke slightly then it has gone too far and reached caramel stage and will taste slightly bitter, though you amy still be able to use the mixture to make a caramel sauce.