Next week, I and my friend, Angie, start the eight-week-long Whole Life Challenge, which is basically eight weeks of sleeping a lot, drinking a lot of water, meditating, exercising, doing something enjoyable, and journaling every day. I despise journaling. Journaling will be more difficult for me than giving up candy for eight weeks. Inner musings annoy me, ESPECIALLY MY OWN. I think way too much about pretty clothes and candy and what to read next. A deep person with complex thoughts about the world would read my journal and think, "How does this person remember to brush her hair every morning?" And my answer is, "Why would I do that every morning?"
One of my enjoyable hobbies is reading, but I already spend hours every day reading (during lunch and supper and before bed). I don't need to increase reading time. If anything, I need to DECREASE reading time. (I won't do that.) So, obviously, we're left with baking and blogging about baking. You might think, why would you want to bake MORE when you can't eat the finished products for those same eight weeks? I tend to bake what other people like because it's fun for me to share delightful treats with them. Thus, I often don't like what I'm baking, but I love working with the ingredients, regardless. Chocolate is super fun to work with, for example, but I find it too bitter to consume, much like the dark souls of regular journalers.
To be honest, I wasn't thinking at all about the Whole Life Challenge Friday night when I got the urge to make something new. I was just thinking that I wanted to try making honeycomb candy again because, when I tried to make it on Thursday, I burned the living bejesus out of it. It looked great but tasted like a bitter foot. It was very, very bad. Some things are difficult to try to make again, either because they're expensive or time-consuming, but honeycomb is really easy to try again and again because the recipe I was using calls for only 75 grams of sugar (just over 1/3 cup for you Americans) and two tablespoons of golden syrup. (I used light corn syrup because I am a proud, golden syrup-less American.) Corn syrup is really, really cheap, so, if you're trying to make candy and mess up, do it again! And again! And again!
This honeycomb recipe (from one of the Bake Off cookbooks, Learn to Bake, which is intended for children but is perfect for me) requires only three ingredients--sugar, golden syrup, and baking soda. One must cook the syrup and sugar together in a certain way until the mixture reaches a golden, bubbly state (very slightly beyond hard crack temperature, I found), remove the mixture from the heat, and add the baking soda. When the baking soda is added and mixed into the mixture, it puffs up! It's like magic. I very much enjoy the puffing-up process.
Here is a picture of the bitter-foot honeycomb--attempt #1:
It looks perfect--very honeycomby! So poofy! But it really shouldn't be quite that dark in color, which I discovered when I took a bite that I will regret until my dying day. (Did I mention that it was bitter?)
So I tried again Friday evening. Attempt #2:
What in the world happened to THIS batch? It looks like it was made by someone with severe anemia. There was almost zero puffing up, which was so disappointing. But it was delicious!! VERY tasty. I did something I probably shouldn't have, however--I added a teaspoon of vanilla to this batch. Either the vanilla caused the sugar and corn syrup not to poof up when I added the baking soda, or I undercooked it (or both). Let me tell you something, though: vanilla makes honeycomb delicious. I would imagine that the vanilla might help the corn syrup to mimic the golden syrup that I don't have.
By this point, I was a wee bit peeved. I just wanted some goddamn honeycomb, universe! WHY MUST YOU TRY ME THIS WAY?! By god, I was determined to make ANOTHER batch if for no other reason than I could show our son how I didn't give up or throw a fit when it didn't work the first two times. He wasn't home when I was doing this, but I could describe it for him. Kids love having irritating things explained to them.
I decided to try to be a bit more logical this time. No vanilla. I needed to see if there were any BBC- or Bake Off-related videos on the making of honeycomb that I could watch before making my third attempt, and I discovered that, indeed, Miss Mary Berry had a video of herself making honeycomb as part of a larger recipe--homemade honeycomb ice cream. Whaaaaaaaaat?? And the ice cream required only two ingredients, heavy whipping cream and one can of sweetened condensed milk. I happened to have both ingredients in my possession, along with an appropriately large loaf pan to use as the ice cream receptacle. The recipe required a double batch of honeycomb, so I decided to use the anemic batch IN the ice cream (because it tasted great, after all) and save part of my THIRD honeycomb attempt to decorate the top, since it would hopefully look more like a robust honeycomb.
I'm not sure if the video will embed properly, but we'll try below.
Before I assembled the ice cream, I attempted my third batch of honeycomb, and it actually turned out completely well. Finally! The color of the picture is a bit weird because it was nighttime in our dark kitchen, but, trust me, it was as close to perfect as I'd gotten. I did miss the vanilla essence. I cannot lie. But it was good plain, too.
While it cooled, I worked on the ice cream.
The whipping cream had to be whipped to soft peaks, not stiff peaks, as one would want for whipped cream.
This is how the mixture looks when the whipped cream and condensed milk are mixed:
Then, I added the broken-up honeycomb and poured the mixture into the loaf pan.
It's that easy! At this point, Mary freezes the ice cream for a minimum of six hours, but I went ahead and added the topping pieces of honeycomb so that they wouldn't fall everywhere when the ice cream was served. Also, I had a feeling that my husband wouldn't "serve" the ice cream so much as he would "destroy" it. (I was correct.)
It is now early Sunday afternoon. The ice cream was ready for consumption in the wee hours of Saturday morning. The ice cream is gone. To say that it was a hit would be an understatement; it was AMAZING. The toffee flavor of the honeycomb suffuses the ice cream, and the crunchy bits stay crunchy enough without being too (teeth-breaking) crunchy. It's really perfect and SO EASY.
So there you have it--my honeycomb adventure. If you have off of work tomorrow, make it! If you have some free time tonight, make it! just make it! Don't make me come over there and journal with you.