Sponge Toffee Recipe (2024)


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Originally Posted October 22, 2009. Updated 12/7/2020

Sponge Toffee Recipe (1)

Sponge Toffee is an easy candy to make - one of the first I learned to make, as a kid - tasty, and a lot of fun to make AND eat! Try it out!

Sponge Toffee was one of my favorite treats as a kid.

We used to get it at corner stores, farmer's markets, and gas stations... or make it at home. I loved the contrast between the appearance (bubbles!), and the crispy texture.

Whether I'd let it melt in my mouth slowly, or chomp through (and pick the sugar off my teeth for a long time afterwards!), it was just a fun food to enjoy.

As I got older, I realized that gas station sponge toffee is just *no* match for homemade.

This is really easy to make, and a lot of fun for kids to watch (From a distance! Hot sugar can be dangerous!).

Sponge Toffee Recipe (2)

What is Sponge Toffee?

Sponge toffee is an easy to make candy that’s usually sold in blocks or in chunks / nuggets.

The technique used to make the candy causes it to fizz up at the last minute, and it hardens full of holes. This gives it an airy, bubbly, almost flaky texture.

How to Make Sponge Toffee

Like all caramel or toffee based candy, this one starts off by boiling sugars together with water.

As the water boils off, temperature raises, the sugar caramelizes, and the whole mixture becomes something capable of hardening into a brittle candy.

At the last minute - as soon as the mixture reaches the appropriate temperature - you quickly mix some baking soda in, which causes it to VIOLENTLY bubble up.

Be very careful with this - sugar burns are no joke! Be sure to use a long handled spoon to mix the baking soda in, keeping your hands clear of the ... volcano.

As you stir the baking soda in, you’ll want to be sure it’s well incorporated, but you’ll also want to be mindful of how much you stir / beat it.

The less you beat it, the higher it will rise, and the bigger the holes will be.

The more you beat it, the smaller the holes will be, the less lift you’ll get, and the denser the final candy will be.

Once you’ve beat it as much as you’d like, quickly pour it into a prepared 9 x 13" pan.

If you’ve been judicious in your mixing, it will continue to foam a bit in the pan - it’s good to not beat the “life” out of it, in the pot.

Then, you let it cool.

If you’d like set sizes / shapes (blocks, bars), you can score the candy with a sharp knife. DO this several minutes after pouring it into the pan, so you don’t affect the rise.

As the candy cools, gently re-establish your score cuts, bit by bit. Once it’s 100% cooled, you can easily break it into the blocks or bars you’d like.

Sponge Toffee Recipe (3)

Sponge Toffee Around the World

Growing up, it was "sponge", but some older people (looking back, probably immigrants or 1st gen Canadians from England, where "Honeycomb" is the term for it) would call it honeycomb toffee.

I always liked that - it's a much cuter / more tasty sounding name than "sponge". Who wants to eat a sponge, anyway?

When I was in Minnesota, it was called "sponge candy" the few times I saw it. It definitely wasn't as commonly available there, as it had been my whole life in Canada.

Via friends, I learned that the same stuff was referred to as "foam candy" or "seafoam" in some other places in the US.

Sponge Toffee - or something very similar - exists around the world, in slightly different variations, and with a bunch of different names.

I love that New Zealanders call it "Hokey Pokey" and put it in ice cream!

As a kid, I enjoyed drizzling ice cream with a bit of corn syrup and topping with the crumbs left over from making a batch of this toffee.

Sponge Toffee Recipe (4)

Sponge Toffee Variations

Chocolate Dipped

The most common variation you’ll see to this recipe is to dip the final - cooled - candy into chocolate.

Here in Canada, we have a popular candy bar based on this idea, the Crunchie bar. (I have a recipe for Homemade Crunchie Bars!).

Sponge Toffee Recipe (5)

Other than that, you can break up the cooled candy and dip them - fully or partially - in the melted chocolate of your choice.
Personally, I prefer milk or dark chocolate for this. While I enjoy white chocolate in general, it doesn’t taste quite right with the toffee.

Ginger Molasses

While I wouldn’t call this a common variation - I came up with it myself, years ago - you can always swap out the corn syrup and add some ginger to make Ginger Molasses Sponge Toffee!

I designed that recipe to have the taste of a gingersnap cookie, only in candy form. I love the stuff!

Sponge Toffee Recipe (6)

More Candy Making Recipes

In the mood to melt some sugar, make some gummies, or play with chocolate? I've got you!

Bananas Foster Pralines
Banana Walnut Brittle
Candy Apples
Dill Pickle Gummy Worms
Festive Easy Fudge
Ginger Molasses Sponge Toffee
Homemade BCAA Gummies
Homemade Crunchie Bars
Homemade Jolly Rancher Candies
Hop Flavoured Beer Lollipops (LolliHOPS!)
How to Make Marshmallow Cones
Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle
Milk Chocolate Chai Truffles
Peppermint Patties Recipe
Pistachio Brittle
Ube White Chocolate Fudge
White Chocolate Almond Amaretto Truffles

Sponge Toffee Recipe (7)

Share the Love!

Before you chow down, be sure to take some pics of your handiwork! If you Instagram it, be sure to tag me - @CelebrationGenerationCA - or post it to My Facebook Page - so I can cheer you on!

Also, be sure to subscribe to my free monthly email newsletter, so you never miss out on any of my nonsense.

Well, the published nonsense, anyway!


Sponge Toffee Recipe (8)

Sponge Toffee Recipe (9)

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4.85 from 13 votes

Sponge Toffee

Sponge Toffee is an easy candy to make - one of the first I learned to make, as a kid - and it’s also one of the first recipes I blogged. Give it a try!

Prep Time5 minutes mins

Cook Time20 minutes mins

Cooling time1 hour hr

Total Time1 hour hr 25 minutes mins

Course: Dessert, Snack

Cuisine: British

Servings: 20 - 1 9x13 pan of toffee

Calories: 130kcal

Author: Marie Porter


  • 9 x 13 Baking Dish

  • Candy Thermometer


  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • cup corn syrup
  • 6 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla


  • Prepare a 9″ x 13″ cake pan with nonstick spray, or a light coating of vegetable oil or shortening. Set aside.

  • In a large saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, and water. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan, making sure that it does not touch the bottom of the pan.

  • Bring mixture to a boil, and allow to cook until temperature reaches 300 degrees F (hard crack stage). From the time mixture starts boiling to the time it reaches 300F, do not stir.

  • Once mixture reaches 300F, remove from heat.

  • Add vanilla and baking soda, beating to incorporate. The mixture will start foaming quite a bit when you add the baking soda (chemical reaction!), so using a LONG wooden spoon is a good idea. The sugar will be very hot, and will burn if you get any on your hand as you stir. Be very careful and work FAST.

  • Dump foaming mixture into greased cake pan, spreading it out as evenly as possible. Allow it to cool completely.

  • Once toffee is cooled all the way through, remove from pan and snap into chunks / nuggets and serve.


  • Be sure to store toffee in an airtight container – the sugar will attract water from the air, and the toffee can go soggy.
  • While you definitely want the baking soda to be fully mixed in, know that how much you beat it affects the final texture. If you beat it a lot, the air bubbles will be smaller than if you don't.
  • If you like big, airy toffee, beat it the minimum possible, and GENTLY pour it into the pan. DO NOT disturb it - it will keep rising and developing big bubbles.


Calories: 130kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 336mg | Sugar: 34g | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg

Sponge Toffee Recipe (10)

More Recipes that Remind me of Gramma

Since originally writing this post, my gramma has sadly passed... but her memory lives on.

Here are a few recipes that remind me of her, whether as something she taught me to make, a replica of a retail treat we used to enjoy together, or one of my own recipes that she would request whenever I’d visit, as an adult.

Gramma's Perogies Recipe
Homemade Marshmallow Cones
Homemade Clodhoppers Candy
Puffed Wheat Squares
Honey Dill Dipping Sauce
Paska - Ukrainian Easter Bread
Baking Powder Biscuits
Grandma's Potato Salad
Easy Butterfly Cupcakes
Breakfast of Champions
French Canadian Pea Soup
Beep Drink Recipe

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Reader Interactions


  1. Andrea

    Hello, how long would the toffee be good for in an air right container at room temperature?
    Thank you.


    • Marie Porter

      Probably a few weeks? We've never had it last long enough to really have an idea of longevity.


      • Linda

        This sounds a lot like Irish candy called Crunchies. I love it but after it’s cooled it’s dipped in chocolate. So yummy!!


  2. melissa

    What type of corn syrup is used light dark etc
    I’m assuming light ?


    • Marie Porter

      I use light, but dark works as well.


  3. Sherrie

    I'm from Minnesota and had this stuff growing up as well plain or covered in chocolate and we call it angel food candy! So good, can't wait to try your recipe. I love how it melts in your mouth! 😋😛


  4. Jimmy

    Would it work with Maple Syrup?


    • Marie Porter

      Probably, but I haven't tried it!


  5. Kay

    Sponge Toffee Recipe (19)
    Growing up in England this is called Cinder Toffee and yes, as someone else mentioned,dipped in chocolate is a Crunchie bar. We also use golden syrup.. Yum


  6. Debra Maure

    Other recipes call for vinegar. Will it work without it?


    • Marie Porter

      I've never even heard of making it with vinegar. I've been making it with the recipe since I was a kid, and I'm assuming my grandma was making it much longer.


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Sponge Toffee Recipe (2024)


What is sponge toffee made of? ›

Honeycomb toffee, honeycomb candy, sponge toffee, cinder toffee, seafoam, or hokey pokey is a sugary toffee with a light, rigid, sponge-like texture. Its main ingredients are typically brown sugar (or corn syrup, molasses or golden syrup) and baking soda, sometimes with an acid such as vinegar.

Why is my sponge toffee chewy? ›

Chewy honeycomb happens when the mixture hasn't been cooked for long enough. This is most common when you don't use a sugar thermometer. If you don't heat the mixture to 149°C the sugar won't achieve the brittleness required for that crumbly, crunchy texture.

Is sponge candy the same as honeycomb? ›

Honeycomb candy's texture is the main difference between it and the well-known Erie delicacy, sponge candy. Whereas sponge candy has a fine, sponge-like texture full of tiny air bubbles, the air pockets of honeycomb candy are larger and have a more defined shape to them.

Is cinder toffee the same as honeycomb? ›

One of the simplest and most fun confectioneries to make at home is cinder toffee, also known as honeycomb or sponge toffee.

Why does my sponge toffee taste burnt? ›

The trick is to avoid any clumps or pockets of soda, so stir more than you think you should - a whisk works well. It's the areas with too much soda that get the big bubbles and the burnt taste. The warmed oven really helps with keeping the loft in the candy.

Why do you not stir toffee? ›

Constant stirring can cause the toffee to crystallize and separate.

Why is my toffee chewy instead of crunchy? ›

Low and slow

Simmering the syrup for English toffee to the requisite 300°F temperature can (and should) be a slow process — up to 20 minutes or so. Don't hurry this gradual transformation; syrup that doesn't reach 300°F, or close to it, will make candy with timid flavor and chewy (not crunchy) texture.

Why is my toffee not set and why is it's texture grainy and not smooth? ›

As the toffee cools and the molten sugar crystals become solid again, they are attracted to the 'seed' forming new lumps of tiny crystals – hence the grainy texture. This can also happen if the toffee is stirred, or agitated, after it has begun to boil or on cooling (as happened with this pink-tinted toffee).

Can you eat raw honeycomb? ›

It is 100% edible, though the texture is not for everyone. In fact, eating raw honeycomb is one of the best ways to get the most health benefit from your honey. Honey in the honeycomb is in its rawest form, so it will have the most enzymes, vitamins, and minerals of any type of raw honey.

Why is sponge candy so expensive? ›

The Sponge Candy recipe while not complicated does require some specific and expensive equipment to make it and many candy shops around the US do not make their own candy but buy and resell mass produced candy. Lastly the number of people sharing and passing on this Buffalo specific recipe is declining.

Why is sponge candy only in Buffalo? ›

That's because sponge candy's bubbled structure is uniquely sensitive to heat and humidity; in more humid climes, it will begin to melt . Locals therefore claim that Buffalo's notoriously cold climate is perfect for the candy, making the city a confectionary paradise.

What states have sponge candy? ›

However, what we do know is that sponge candy began to appear in Northwestern PA and Western NY around the 1940s and 50s. Small, individually owned candy shops began to make sponge candy and it quickly became a favorite among locals.

Who invented sponge toffee? ›

The exact origin of sponge candy is unknown, but Fowler's, one of the earliest chocolate makers in Buffalo, claims to be the original and authentic maker's of Buffalo best Sponge Candy. Fowler's Chocolate Shoppe began in 1910 after Joseph Fowler sold his sweet treats at an expo in Buffalo.

What's another name for sponge candy? ›

The label typically reads “sponge candy,” but you may also know this candy as cinder block, sea foam, fairy food, angel food or a multitude of other names. Each of these names are referring to the same type of candy with origins that are rather vague, but appear to have started in the Buffalo, New York area.

Why is it called cinder toffee in England? ›

Its name “cinder toffee” is thought to come from its appearance, which resembles the cinders and coal used in traditional British fireplaces. The treat's texture and taste, reminiscent of caramelised sugar, made it a favourite among people of all ages.

What is the inside of sponge candy made of? ›

Sponge candy is made from a few simple ingredients. Sugar, corn syrup, water, vinegar, and baking soda are what create the magical filling of sponge candy. Traditional toffee is hard, brittle, and buttery, but the secret to sponge candy is air.

What does sponge toffee taste like? ›

According to Fowler's Chocolate “Sponge Candy is a light and crunchy but delicate toffee made from sugar, corn syrup, and baking soda. The recipe is very simple but produces a very unique flavor reminiscent of toasted molasses.” Even better it is then (usually) coated in chocolate—yum!

What's the difference between caramel and toffee? ›

The difference between caramel and toffee is greater, as caramel has a more liquid consistency and is usually pure sugar (it doesn't contain butter or flour). Still, the taste of caramel, fudge, and toffee is relatively similar, as they are all made from mostly sugar (as well as butter in the case of fudge and toffee).

Is sponge candy the same as seafoam candy? ›

Seafoam candy is a vintage treat that gets its name from its signature airy and bubbly appearance. This confection goes by several other names as well, depending on your region. Some call it sponge candy, honeycomb, hokey pokey, fairy food, or cinder toffee.

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