Honeycomb Toffee for Bonfire Night

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Honeycomb Toffee 
Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated in the UK every year on November 5th.  This is a UK celebration which marks the failed attempt in the 17th century to blow up the houses of Parliament and assassinate King James 1st.

It is marked by the lighting of bonfires all over the country and great fireworks displays.  Usually a stuffed figure, known as the Guy is thrown onto the Bonfire. 

Honeycomb Toffee 
It commemorates a story of failure, as all over the UK people relive the night that Guy Fawkes, Robert Catesby, and their small band of followers failed to succeed in their plans.

In a way this is an annual celebration of Thanksgiving by the British people, which has been going on since just one year after the failed plot in 1605, so as you can see it is an old, old tradition. 

Honeycomb Toffee 

When I first moved over to the UK, Halloween was hardly celebrated at all.  In the weeks leading up to the 5th of November you would get children coming around door to door begging for "Pennies for the Guy."  You had to make sure you had a supply of pennies in to meet the demand.  

You were more likely to get a child knocking on your door on the 31st of October wanting pennies than you would a child wanting candy.  This has changed a great deal over the last 20 years and Halloween is now a very big thing.

Honeycomb Toffee 
The pennies that the children gathered would be used to buy their fireworks.  Also in the weeks leading up to the 5th of November people would be gathering things they wanted burned into a pile on the village green, or another open space on which they would build the bonfire.

It was a great way to get rid of unwanted cartons, tree limbs, wooden furniture, crates, etc. It was quite fascinating watching the pile of goods grow in the few weeks prior to the night.

Honeycomb Toffee 

As well as Bonfires and Fireworks the occasion is also marked by the eating of special foods and treats, usually intended to inject some warmth into cold bodies and hands as people stand around in the  cold watching the fires and fireworks.

Things like hearty stews and soups. Jacket potatoes.  Sausages in the buns and Parkin, which is a is a soft and moist cake/bread traditionally served up with hot cups of tea.  This is a traditional Cake from the North East of the UK.

Honeycomb Toffee for Bonfire Night 
Another traditional Bonfire night treat is Honeycomb Toffee.  Also known as Cinder Toffee, Angel Toffee, Hokey Pokey (favorite name for it) Honeycomb Toffee is a type of sponge toffee that is most addictive! 

Its also very easy to make and uses only a few ingredients. This sponge toffee literally melts in the mouth!

Honeycomb Toffee for Bonfire Night 

Nothing too outrageous that is what!

  • finely granulated white sugar
  • golden syrup
  • butter for buttering the tin

You can find golden syrup in many groceries here in Canada.  You can also find it on Amazon in the US, as well as Amazon in Canada. Although you can use regular golden corn syrup, if you can get the Lyles Golden Syrup, you really should. 

It really does have a unique and delicious taste that is quite unbeatable. 

Honeycomb Toffee for Bonfire Night 
You also don't have to worry about being able to use it all up. I have a lot of recipes here in The English Kitchen which use Golden Syrup.  

Some of them include:

Spiced Golden Syrup Jumbles

And these are only a few of the golden syrup delights on my page!  As you can see it is a favourite ingredient in British Cookery.
Honeycomb Toffee for Bonfire Night 

You might find the idea of making your own honeycomb toffee somewhat intimidating, but I can assure you it is really very easy. 

First of all you want to make sure that you use a really deep saucepan as when you add the baking soda to the sugar mixture at the end, it almost doubles in volume.  Also make sure you have your pan buttered and ready for you to pour the finished toffee into it.

You begin by measuring the sugar and corn syrup into the saucepan. You need to begin on a very low heat.  You want to melt the sugar completely before you go any further. You can stir it slowly over medium-low heat until the sugar melts completely. This will probably take about 10 minutes. You can't rush this process.

Honeycomb Toffee for Bonfire Night 
Try not to let the mixture boil while you are melting the sugar. You will know your sugar is melted because the mixture will become slightly translucent and no longer feel gritty. 

 At this time you can increase the heat a bit and allow it to bubble and boil.  You want it to bubble until it starts to turn amber in color. Don't walk away as this can happen quite quickly.

Honeycomb Toffee for Bonfire Night 
As soon as it turns amber take the pan off the heat.  Now you can beat in the baking soda with a wooden spoon.  Beat it through until it has completely dissolved into the molten sugar mixture.

This is quite magic really because the baking soda causes the mixture to expand and fill with little bubbles of air.  It is the magic ingredient which makes this moreish toffee to light and melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

Honeycomb Toffee for Bonfire Night 

Immediately scrape it into your prepared pan, spreading it out as best as you can.  Do be careful with this process as molten sugar can really burn the skin.

And that's it. You only need to leave it now to cool. This can take anywhere between an hour and an hour and a half.

Honeycomb Toffee for Bonfire Night 
Once it has completely cooled you can snap it into pieces and shards, ready to enjoy.  Crisp and crunchy, meltingly delicious.

You can also top the finished toffee with melted chocolate, which is very good.  Trust me on this.

Honeycomb Toffee for Bonfire Night 
You are probably wondering about my little Jack-O-Lantern. It is made with a rutabaga/swede/turnip.  Long before the pumpkin became the Jack-O-Lantern of choice, people in Great Britain used to carve out turnips. 

People across the British Isles carved out ghoulish faces and then placed the carved out turnips near their doorways and on gate tops to help to ward away evil spirits in the beginning of November when it was thought that the spirits of the dead were actually quite lively.

Honeycomb Toffee for Bonfire Night 
The practice originated from an Irish folk tale about a man named Jack who, after trying to trick the devil, was cursed to roam the earth with only a burning coal held inside a hollowed-out turnip.

Its really not that hard to do with a melon scoop.  Plus you can cook the parts that you take out of the turnips/rutabaga/swede and have a tasty side dish or soup to enjoy.

Honeycomb Toffee for Bonfire Night

So there you have it a delicious treat for Bonfire Night, or for any night!  It is not hard to make, uses very simple ingredients and melts in the mouth.

I am sure it is bound to be a very popular treat with the family, or with friends on game nights, or whatever.  It also makes an excellent garnish to crumble over iced cakes etc.

Honeycomb Toffee, a moreish treat that is more than a cut above the rest!!

Honeycomb Toffee

Honeycomb Toffee

Yield: Makes an 8-inch square pan
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 15 MinTotal time: 20 Min
A British Bonfire night tradition! Sweet, crunchy, light as air and melts in the mouth!


  • Butter for the tin
  • 1 cup (200g) finely granulated sugar
  • 5 TBS golden syrup
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)


  1. Butter an 8-inch square tin really well and set aside.
  2. Measure the sugar and golden syrup into a deep saucepan. Stir together and heat over a gentle heat until the sugar has melted. Don't allow the mixture to bubble until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  3. Increase the heat a bit and then simmer at a slow boil until the mixture turns an amber color. Keep an eye on it as this can happen in the blink of an eye.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Beat it all in with a wooden spoon until it has completely been amalgamated into the hot mixture. (Be careful as it is very hot!)
  5. Scrap this mixture into the tin immediately and with care not to burn yourself.
  6. Leave to set for about an hour an hour and a half.  The honeycomb will be hard and easy to crumble or snap into chunks.
Did you make this recipe?
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  1. My dad loved sponge toffee and would sometimes buy a big block of it and bring it home for us. It reminded me of peanut brittle but I imagine the sponge toffee was softer and more airy. It would make a nice treat at Christmas. I do make peanut brittle so I probably could make this, too. I'll give it a try closer to Christmas. Enjoy your day. Love and hugs, Elaine

    1. It would make a great Christmas treat. I used to do peanut brittle in the microwave for Christmas. I have not made it in years. I should make some this year maybe! Love and hugs, Elaine! xoxo

  2. Oh, I would love this! I'll have to try it for the holidays. Thanks for the excellent instructions and also for the fun history on the traditions of Guy Fawkes Day!

    1. You are very welcome Jeanie! Guy Fawkes day is a really big deal over there. It used to be much bigger than Halloween, but unfortunately this is no longer the case! xoxo

  3. Hi Marie,
    Is there any difference between Golden syrup and Caro corn syrup? I have both but am curious.
    Big hugs,

    1. Both will work well. There is a slight flavor difference. Golden Syrup has a very unique flavor. It almost has a slightly toasty flavor, with an almost lemon undertone. Not really strong lemon, but slight. xoxo

  4. Love this dipped in chocolate, just like a crunchie. Not strictly true that halloween wasn't celebrated over here. I can remember as a very young child (I'm 72) going out with my cousins "guising" (in disguise). Neighbours had to guess who you were and you had to do something to earn your sweeties, fruit and nuts, such as tell a joke or recite a poem.

    1. I think you must have misunderstood Eleanor. I was speaking only about my experiences in the U.K. from where I lived in Chester and then down in a Kent. Halloween really was not a big thing at all when I first moved over there in 2000. It’s become a lot bigger now than it was for sure. Over here we did the same thing you are talking about but it was called mummering.xoxo

  5. I will be making this for Christmas! I make the microwave peanut brittle too...they will make nice little gifts.


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