Some of my favorite candy-making moments aren't actually about the candy at all. Part of the appeal--the wonder, even--of cooking candy is the amazing chemical reactions that turn ordinary ingredients into entirely different products. Heating granulated sugar and watching it melt, boil, and then re-harden into brittle sheets is remarkable to me. I'm not a chemist, so I can't always explain the details of the transformation, but sometimes it's enough to just notice and appreciate it.
This recipe for Chocolate-Dipped Honeycomb got me thinking anew about the chemistry of candy. The process is pretty simple: a sugar and honey syrup is cooked to a high temperature, then baking soda is added at the end. The baking soda causes the syrup to foam up and develop thousands of air bubbles. The finished candy retains these bubbles, so it literally has a honeycomb-like structure and a lighter-than-air texture. Amazing! The taste is equally amazing, especially when you dip the honeycomb shards in melted chocolate, to resemble Violet Crumble candy bars. The honeycomb can also be eaten plain, but be warned that it soaks up moisture like a sponge. If you leave it uncovered for even a few hours, it will begin to turn sticky, and you will soon have a soggy mess instead of a beautiful candy.