Monday, February 7, 2011

Sponge Candy

One of the most amazing confections ever created, yet one of the most difficult to describe. Scientifically speaking, the “sponge” center is made from corn syrup, sugar, baking soda and vinegar. Sounds unappealing and slightly odd, right? Poetically speaking, it is magnificently light and airy with a crisp texture that just melts in your mouth on contact. The flavor is basically like caramelized sugar or molasses. The sponge is crunchy but full of little air bubbles created by the baking soda-vinegar reaction. In some parts of the country it is sold just as the sponge (under names like sea foam or honeycomb), but the key to Buffalo sponge candy is the super thick chocolate coating- milk chocolate, dark chocolate and (my absolute favorite) orange chocolate!

Sponge candy was and still is a staple at Christmas time. Those chocolate-covered squares of culinary luxury looked so good sitting in the candy dish, waiting for company to arrive. Well, some were actually triangles, but I’m sure they originally aspired to be full squares. How hard it was to resist just taking ONE piece! Who would notice? Well, at about $18 a pound these days someone is sure to miss those valuable pieces of heaven. It’s so special, in fact, that I just can’t bring myself to shove a whole piece in my mouth and chomp away at it. For as long as I can remember, I follow the same procedure when I enjoy sponge candy: bite the chocolate off the bottom, bite off two or three adjoining sides, extract the sponge and allow it to melt in my mouth, and then savor the remaining sides and top since that’s where the chocolate is the thickest. It’s just too good to gobble! (What? How do you eat it?)

Where does one get sponge candy? I have eaten sponge candy from Antoinette’s Sweets, Fowler’s and Watson’s. Personally, I am confident when I say Watson’s is THE best. Ever. Hands-down. Without a doubt. Period. (I still ask for it on my Christmas list!)

I try to share the love by bringing sponge candy to people who had unfortunate childhoods without it. If you want to get your own, below please find links to Watson’s and Fowler’s. (Apparently Antoinette’s does not have a website.)