Chocolate Hokey Pokey (aka Sponge Candy)

About two and a half years ago, a family of eight moved to our neighborhood from New Zealand.  Their children spanned about 15 years, three boys and three girls.  I fell in love with their accents and expressions such as “togs” instead of bathing suit, “jandals” instead of sandals, and probably my favorite, “sweet as”, which is basically the same as awesome.

The dad is Mr. Helpful.  He bought a pick-up truck to use as their vehicle.  Because of that, combined with the fact that he is easy-going and a helpful kind of guy, he probably ended up moving every person we know here at one point or another.

When we moved into our house, we were fixing up our little yard.  It had some not very attractive grass back there.  We poured some concrete for a sitting area and left a little area to plant.  I am not sure if you are aware of this, but this area in the Yucatan of Mexico is all limestone.  If you want to dig down, you’ll mostly find limestone.  Hard, stubborn, heavy limestone.

Even though my husband left a thin area for us to plant, the digging through limestone to leave just enough room for plants to grow was an almost impossible task.  It was tiring and hard work under this coastal Mexican sun.  (Well it looked tiring for my husband and son).  And then, when that part of the job was done, we were left of piles and piles and piles of brutally heavy limestone.  What to do?

Call the nice man with the pick-up and his 3 sons.

Of course he came.  It took them hours and hours to haul it out to the jungle.  I felt so bad watching them.  When I feel bad, I need to feed.   I had prepared a meal for them that night, but I asked if there was a treat from home that they missed.  Dad replied ‘hokey pokey ice-cream”.

Oh great.  Something I’ve never heard of.

Thank goodness for google.

What they call Hokey Pokey is what many of us in this hemisphere call sponge candy.  It’s actually not hard to make.  Unfortunately, I actually can’t get one of the 3 ingredients here, which is corn syrup.  (Kind of strange for a country full of corn).  They do have some clear syrup they call corn syrup with a baby’s face on it ….. but uh, not quite the same.  So, I put it on my list for my next friend to bring down.  And now I have a stash.

I made it a few times.  It didn’t seem that great to me.  And then I put it in vanilla ice-cream.  Our family instantly loved it.  That crunch in the middle of smooth vanilla ice-cream.  Yummmm.  It instantly became a family favorite.

It’s not hard to make but it is candy so you have to be precise with your measurements, candy thermometer, and timing.  Always sift your baking soda, otherwise you’ll get clumps and it’ll taste awful.  Use a square 8×8 or round baking pan to pour into, because if you use a baking sheet, it will just go flat and you won’t have those pretty bubbles that you see in the picture.  I personally like it better coated with chocolate as opposed to plain, but when I made it for the NZ friends, they just cracked it and ate it plain.

Try it plain, coated in chocolate, or tossed in some ice-cream.   I won’t even judge you if you don’t make the ice-cream.    Just try it.

INGREDIENTS:

*special equipment: candy thermometer

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup golden corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 TAB white vinegar
  • 1 TAB baking soda, sifted

DIRECTIONS:

Grease an 8×8 square pan. (You can use foil in the pan also).   In a medium size sauce-pan, combine sugar, corn syrup, honey, and vinegar.  Stir over medium-low head until sugar is dissolved.  Turn heat up to medium and attach candy thermometer to pot.  Continue cooking WITHOUT STIRRING, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture reaches 300°F.  Remove from heat.  Immediately add baking soda and whisk well for five seconds (mixture will foam up quickly).  Immediately pour into prepared pan.  Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Remove candy from pan with a metal flipper.  Cut or break into pieces.

Store airtight at room temperature.  Or first dip into melted chocolate, let chill completely, and store in fridge.

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