I made "honeycomb" (otherwise known as hokey-pokey, not real honeycomb) using this recipe: http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/hokey-pokey-36

It tastes delicious but it is supposed to be crunchy / cripsy (like the inside of a Cadburys Crunchie bar) but it actually came out really sticky, like a soft toffee.

Is this likely to be due to overcooking, undercooking, something else? How can I make sure it comes out crunchier in future?

  • Good question - we also tried making this and it just came out a sticky gooey mess.
    – Bluebelle
    Commented Dec 4, 2010 at 14:03
  • I never knew it could be called Hokey Pokey.
    – Orbling
    Commented Dec 4, 2010 at 17:35
  • Since it's only been alluded to in the answers-- soft crack stage: 270-290F/135-145C. Hard crack: 300-310F/150-155C. The recipes I glance over make it clear you want to cook your syrup to hard crack. So, you can either get yourself a candy thermometer, and cook til your syrup is about 300F, or you can look up how to check using cold water, like RobynC down below mentions. I personally use a thermometer, so I'll awkwardly bow out with that. >.>
    – kitukwfyer
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 14:47
  • This sounds like peanut brittle, minus the peanuts. Commented May 4, 2019 at 23:32

7 Answers 7


Remember your stages of sugar boiling and how they come out, if it's too sticky or soft it is probably down to too low a final temperature (wrong texture) or more likely too much golden syrup.

Be sparing with the golden syrup / glucose syrup, the sucrose will set in to hard sugars, but the glucose/inverted sugar syrup acts as a crystallisation inhibitor, vinegar can be used to similar effect (though does not enrich the flavour so). It sets too, but I find too much can lead to weeping.

Also, I have heard that an overly humid environment can be a problem. People used to say not to cook toffee on a humid day.

  • Another good tip I found recently is to freeze it. It will continue to stay fresh and crunchy rather than turn soft and soggy. In fact, I even tried freezing it after it's turned soggy and it still succeeded at turning it back to rock. Not sure how long you could store it in the freezer but definitely lasted longer that way!
    – Essential
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 19:17

In nigellas recipe she says to only let it boil for 3 minutes before adding bicarb. When I make this I let it boil for 10 minutes before removing from the heat and adding bicarbonate and mine always turn out crispy.

  • Do you happen to know what temperature yours is done at?
    – SourDoh
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 23:24

Correct sugar temperature is the main factor, bring it just up to the heat required, sugar will overshoot because of heat latency

To improve bubble action add one teaspoon of plain white vinegar at begining of sugar heating processn


Less golden syrup...same happened to me, try 1 tablespoon instead of 4


Did you make sure to add enough bicarbonate of soda for your sugar/syrup, AND to ensure you are not stirring the mixture once heat is applied? That's the only thing I can think of that would cause it not to set solid.

  • I didn't stir it at all once it was on the heat, and I added 1.5 tsp bicarb like the recipe said (assuming 11/2 means "one and a half" and not "11 over 2"!)
    – Vicky
    Commented Dec 4, 2010 at 13:14

Most likely due to not letting the toffee come up to a high enough temperature. Made it recently , and my candy thermometer said it was at 150 degrees C, but it turned out sticky. When I made it using the old-fashioned "drop a bit of toffee in a glass of water to see if it is at hard crack stage", it was perfect.

3 minutes sounds far too short to bring it to a high enough temperature - mine took more like 10 minutes.


I think often it can depend on the stove and whether it is electric or gas powered, but overall, as others have said, just cook it for longer.

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