Me and My Honey in a Sticky Situation

Did you enjoy Halloween? I hope it was a day of safe and spooky fun for you. In honor of this holiday I made some candy from scratch. And you would not believe how easy it was! What kind of candy did I make? This super simple honey taffy.

Did you read the label? Funny, right?

Did you read the label? Funny, right?

I started with local honey. I’m glad to support a local bee keeper and his local bees. For all I know those busy buzzy ladies sipped nectar off the Queen Anne’s Lace in my yard! I’m happy to thank them. You can find honey from your neighborhood at a farm stand or farmer’s market or food co-op. Keep your eyes peeled though. I’ve found local honey at art festivals and gift shops. This jar- I am not joking- was bought at my local liquor store.

A few words of caution for those who have never made candy:

  1. Obtain and use a candy thermometer. One very boring snow day, early in the Clinton administration, my sister and I tried making peppermint taffy using an old method of dropping the sugar syrup into cold water and checking the texture. It went… wrong. My mother is such a patient woman.
  2. Do not multitask. You need to stir the boiling honey (or whatever the candy in question is made of) while keeping a keen eye on the temperature. You can go from “not quite” to “just right” to “Oh $*!&” really fast. Be “in the moment” as they say.
  3. Hot sugar is not only hot but also sticky. If it sticks to you it will burn, and stick. Be careful.
  • Corollary: Stirring during the boiling stage is not the best job for very young people. They can certainly practice measuring the ingredients (not such a big deal for this recipe, but it can be for other candies). They are great help when you get to the shaping and wrapping part. They might also like watching the thermometer or keeping time.

As always, this is easier if you have help. My honey, Mr. Food It Yourself, was super sweet to lend a hand.

First, the honey gets warm and loose. Note the thermometer probe.

First, the honey gets warm and loose. Note the thermometer probe.

Once it starts boiling, the honey gets all foamy and prone to splattering. This is when you need to be SUPER careful.

Once it starts boiling, the honey gets all foamy and prone to splattering. This is when you need to be SUPER careful.

After a 20 minute chill on some oiled parchment it was time to pull. Started easy enough...

After a 20 minute chill on some oiled parchment it was time to pull. Started easy enough…

I just couldn't control the lump of sugar. Thankfully Mr. Food It Yourself and his big old bear paws saved the day. He pulled and folded like a pro.

I just couldn’t control the lump of sugar. Thankfully Mr. Food It Yourself and his big old bear paws saved the day. He pulled and folded like a pro.

No, the bits are not perfectly uniform. That's how you know they are home made. Wrap each bit in a little square of parchment or waxed paper and prepare to share your work.

No, the bits are not perfectly uniform. That’s how you know they are home made. Wrap each bit in a little square of parchment or waxed paper and prepare to share your work.

I brought the candy to a family gathering, as trick-or-treaters tend to eschew home made treats these days. (Don’t get me started…) They were a little stiffer than store bought taffy, but were still enjoyed by all. Mr. Food It Yourself even discovered they are an easy way to sweeten hot beverages. Want honey in your tea at work without a sticky jar in your desk?  This is how you can do that.

Are these little sticky sweets more healthy than packaged store bought candy? No, it’s still sugar with very little nutritional value beyond carbohydrate calories. But keep in mind it is candy. It is not something you eat for health. Every DIYet needs an allowance for sweets. If you want something healthy go eat kale. (If you consider kale edible…) If you’ve ever thought candy making was some complicated process that could only be accomplished in huge factories, I encourage you to reconsider. Dangerous? Just a bit. Fun? Yes in deed. Give it a try!

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