Monday, 12 November 2018

Chocolate dipped honeycomb and random moments

The Melbourne Cup holiday this year was a wet affair.  I had slept in because I was so tired and had no energy to get out of the house.  No fascinators and champagne for me.  Instead we sat home watching telly and making chocolate dipped honeycomb as the rain bucketed down outside.

There is something wonderful about spring rain.  (Just listen to the Go Betweens.)  Heavy rains are far more pleasing when the volume of water is so impressive.  Rain pools in every crevice and creates rivulets down windows.  I have happy memories of walking home as a student and being so soaked that there was no point in a brolly.  These days at the end of a dry winter, it is a relief to see a decent rainfall.

Unfortunately it is not great to look at the weather pages online and see the humidity is 85% when making honeycomb.  I found this when I looked at my last attempt to make honeycomb.  Humidity is the enemy when it comes to honeycomb.  Dry conditions means smooth, crisp, shatter.  Moisture means a sticky mess that melts in your hand not in your mouth.

The difference between this time and last, other than that last time I was cooking with a friend in his last days in Melbourne, is that I had a candy thermometer this time and was able to be more accurate about when to remove it from the heat.  This recipe also had liquid glucose unlike last time.  And once I looked at recipe again I am unsure if I added water!

I partly made the honeycomb to use up the liquid glucose, partly to entertain Sylvia, and partly because our Australian version, Violet Crumble is a sentimental favourite.  My dad loved it and we gave it to him for many Christmases as a kid.  I would have loved it even more as a kid if I had had the fun of watching it puff up when the bicarb hit the sugary mixture.  (Though I was a little confused about what it meant by letting the bubbles subside.)

Once the mixture transformed into a hot bubble of honeycomb it seemed a long time to let it cool.  We sat about realising we had forgotten about watching the Melbourne Cup race, took photos of our cat (it is so hard to get a good photo of Shadow because he is black), and tidied and mozied about.

When we cut the honeycomb it shattered nicely but had a few chewy bits.  We melted chocolate and dipped the honeycomb quite easily.  The challenge is to avoid bloom.  The first lot of melted chocolate seemed to set quicker than the second but the first had some bloom marks.  Despite that it tasted fantastic. 

I like the suggestion in Coles Magazine, where we found the recipe, that it would make a great gift but we just snacked on it.  It was perhaps too sticky to keep very long.  I suspect this might be a good gift if made in the cooler climate of the Northern Hemisphere or shortly before giving in Australia's warm climate.

Lastly I want to share a few random moments:

  • When I left the UK in 2002, I had thought I had closed my account with Lloyds Bank.  But they kept sending letters to my parents' address.  After receiving a new Lloyds visa card recently I sent a complaint.  The bank rang to let me know that my account was never closed because 10p of interest had been added after I "closed" my account and they apologised.  What a waste of resources for 10p.  Incidentally I have had to query a disputed transaction on a visa card and spoke to a very nice person then too.  Are bank's service improving or just when they need to apologise!
  • I was sent a parking fine but when I checked the location, I found that it was a street I have never heard of.  Luckily I had a receipt for a payment I made in another part of the city to prove I was not there.  I have appealed and am waiting to hear back.
  • There was the very sad story last week about a car bursting into flames and the driving lunging at people with a knife in Burke Street in Melbourne's CBD.  It was tragic that he killed Sisto Malaspino of Pelligrinis cafe.  A more heartening story was "Trolley Man", a homeless man who has been hailed a hero for pushing a shopping trolley at the killer.  I know it is not always the ideal response but I still would like everyone to have a Trolley Man as a modern day guardian angel at their back.
  • My boss spoke at a conference recently and as he went in to speak, the organisers played the music of Star Wars.  One of my colleagues wanted to check they didn't play the Darth Vader theme!
  • I spoke to an undergrad maths student who told me he did a maths exercise that took 58 pages to work through.  Now that is a maths problem!
  • I recently finished Claire Tomalin's fantastic memoir, a Life of My Own.  I continue to marvel at her literary life.  However the comment she made that keeps coming back to me is that she thought she was making decisions about her life but when she looks back she finds she was just a product of her time.  I keep reflecting on decisions I make and wondering how much agency I have.  Goodness that takes me back to studying Tess of the D'Urbervilles in Year 12 and discussing determinism vs free will.

More chocolate treats that make good gifts on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chocolate nutella caramel cups (gf) 
Chocolates with peppermint filling (gf, v)
Chocolate salami (gf, v)  
Rocky road (gf, v)
Vegan bacon and seed chocolate bark (gf, v)
Vegemite fudge 2.0  

Chocolate dipped honeycomb
Slightly adapted from Coles Magazine, November 2018

1 1/4 cups castor sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup golden syrup
1/4 cup glucose syrup
2 1/2 bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
250g dark chocolate

Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.

Stir sugar, water, golden syrup and glucose syrup over low heat in a large saucepan for 5 minutes or until sugar is melted.  (I think this took a lot longer than 5 minutes.)  Turn up heat and bring to the boil.  Cook without stirring 10 minutes or until temperature reaches 145 C (this was a lot less than 10 minutes for us) or hard crack stage (ie drop lump in cold water to see if it is hard). 

Let bubbles subside (I still don't understand this but am adding it - we let it sit a minute or so).  Sift bicarb soda over the mixture.  Gently but quickly mix bicarb into the mixture and scrape into prepared tin.  Let this cool - it will be a couple of hours.

Once honeycomb mixture is cool, chop into chunks.  Melt dark chocolate (we do this in the microwave, making sure there are a few lumps at the end to be stirred in so we don't overheat it).  Dip honeycomb into the chocolate and leave on baking paper to set.

On the Stereo:
Northern Attitude: The Fall


  1. The honeycomb looks marvellous. I have always meant to try making some. I am glad Lloyd’s gave you good service. I banked with another UK bank and they drove me crazy every time I had to speak with them, so I closed my account just so I didn’’t have to any more.

    1. Well Lloyds closed up well but I can't believe they kept my account open for 10p. I was surprised they rang at a good time. But banks generally have driven me a bit crazy this year so I have been surprised to get good service recently.

  2. Your honeycomb looks heavenly. I would love to give making it a go, but I'm faintly terrified of hot sugar! I loved your collection of random moments - Trolley man really is a hero.

    1. Thanks Joey - I recommend a candy thermometer but we did it the other time without and it wasn't too scary - in fact the bicarb bit is fun. And Trolley Man is fascinating - a homeless man who did a good deed and now has over $100k in a crowd sourcing fund and someone to help him manage his money - I hope he does well

  3. As a bit of a geek who just has a curious mind, I'd love to know what kind of math problems takes 56 pages to solve. I love math... there is nothing more satisfying that solving something difficult, and hopefully doing it in an elegant way with lines and lines of neat numbers that all work out in the end :) QED

    1. Thanks Lisa - I was curious but when told the subject I just blanked out as it was too geeky for me, I am sorry to say. But I was fascinated that any sum could take that many pages.

  4. It always tends to be somewhat humid in Sydney so I'd have to save honeycomb making to winter. Even cranking up the air con doesn't seem to be foolproof with humidity.

  5. I have never had any luck with honeycomb but I didn't realise that humidity plays a part so I will try again in winter. So sad about Sisto's death. I first went there as a teenager in 1978. It was my first experience of real coffee. I thought myself very sophisticated! I'm also sad to see this happen in my beloved Melbourne.

  6. Up here in the Northern Hemisphere we are definitely going into the single-digit humidity season. However, Violet Crumble and other forms of honeycomb haven't really made it here, so it may not be on our radar to take advantage of our dry kitchen airs.

    best... mae at


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