Inspired by John Gwynne's Malice
[Thannon] 'I need you to strike for me. Torin has asked for half a dozen scythes.' He looked at Corban, who was still leaning against the doorframe. 'Now, lad. We have to draw this iron out before it cools.'
Corban slipped his pitted leather apron on and took the hammer that Thannon was waving at him. A thick length of iron was held in long tongs on the anvil, glowing white hot, a dark honeycomb running through it. Corban knew what to do, and the hammer began to ring as he beat the metal, incandescent sparks flying as impurities were slowly coaxed and beaten from the iron.
There's been some debate in the Speculative Kitchen over whether food metaphors are strong enough grounds for a recipe, so I'll acknowledge now just how loose I'm being with my 'inspired by'. John Gwynne does make the smithy sound like a rather tasty place to be though. And making honeycomb is probably the closest I'll get to blacksmithing any time soon – you have to work very quickly before the hot mixture cools down. After that, it's a straightforward matter of breaking up the cooled honeycomb, dipping the bars into melted chocolate and scattering with your preferred impurities.
(To feed half a dozen)
For the honeycomb
1. Fill a bowl with cold water. You'll be dropping a small amount of the caramelised sugar into it at step 5.
2. Put the bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. You'll need to add this to the caramelised sugar in one go at step 6. By this point you'll also have to work faster than you read, so take the time now to familiarise yourself with the cooking instructions.
3. Line a 20x20cm brownie tin or 23cm cake tin* with greaseproof paper. You'll pour your hot honeycomb mixture into it at step 7.
*This gives thick pieces of honeycomb. You could use a bigger tin for thinner honeycomb.
Make the honeycomb
4. Add the sugar and golden syrup to a saucepan and place on a medium heat. Bring the sugar and syrup to the boil and then reduce the heat to low to simmer.
5. Stir the caramelising sugar regularly to make sure it isn't catching*. After around eight minutes when the mixture is molten, drop a small amount into your pre-prepared bowl of cold water. If it sets hard almost instantly (you can pluck it out to check**) the caramelised sugar is ready to be removed from the heat. If not, continue to simmer and check at one-minute intervals.
* Burning the sugar will make your honeycomb bitter.
**It's only OK to do this because the mixture has been plunged in cold water; it's otherwise far too hot to touch.
6. Remove the caramelised sugar from the heat, add the bicarbonate of soda all in one go and stir. The sugar will react right away – bubbling up to around four times its starting height – so you must stir immediately and vigorously until the bicarbonate of soda is evenly distributed.
7. Quickly pour the honeycomb mixture into your pre-prepared tin. Give it a tilt if you need to help fill the tin but don't try to spread it around; it only gets messy. Leave to cool.
8. When the honeycomb has cooled down (this only takes a few minutes) remove from the tin and peel away the greaseproof paper. Break into pieces by hand or carve up with a knife. You'll get all sorts of shapes and sizes.
Add the chocolate
9. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a dry heatproof bowl. The bowl should be just the right size to sit atop your saucepan (a snug fit around the top of the bowl is best).
10. Bring an inch of water to boil in your saucepan and then reduce the heat to low to simmer. Place the bowl of chocolate onto the saucepan, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn't come into contact with the water.
11. Stir the chocolate as it melts and remove from the heat just before the last pieces have finished melting. White chocolate seizes easily so you don't want to overdo it on the heat.
12. Dip your honeycomb pieces into the bowl of melted chocolate or spoon and spread the chocolate over your honeycomb pieces – whichever you find easier.
13. Sprinkle your chosen 'impurities' over the top.
Short and sweet version