For a few years, my son could only have honey as a sweetener, which meant store-bought candy was out of the question. (This was on the advice of his pediatrician who placed him on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet because he had non-responsive celiac disease and was a very sick little boy. The diet worked wonders and he is now a healthy child with no more stomach aches or for that matter, asthma. It’s a fabulous diet!)
I did a lot of experimenting, trying to come up with treats that I could make him. Here are two of his favorites: Honey & Vinegar Candy and Honey Nut Butter Candy; both are fairly easy to whip up when the urge for a sweet treat arises.
One thing that no one ever seems to mention when it comes to making (well, eating!) most honey based candy is that it quickly goes from crunchy to chewy in your mouth. This is more noticeable with the Honey & Vinegar Candy than the Honey Nut Butter Candy, but because of this reason, I recommend these for older children and even then, be sure to break into small serving sizes. The texture of the Honey & Vinegar reminds me quite a bit of the Sugar Babies that I bought as a kid, if that gives you some idea of the chew-factor!
Honey Nut Butter Candy
This first easy honey candy recipe is inspired by “Glass Candy” from the cookbook Grain Free Gourmet by Jodi Bager and Jenny Lass. I love their cookbooks and highly recommend anyone that wants to cook grain-free and refined-sugar-free own a copy of both! Mine are well worn and worth every penny I spent and then some!
- 1 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup nut butter (I used crunchy almond butter here, you can also use peanut butter, cashew butter, sunbutter, etc)
Pour the honey into a heavy saucepan. Place pan over medium heat until mixture starts to boil. Adjust the heat lower if needed and let boil until honey reaches 300 degrees F (hard crack stage.) This takes around twenty minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla and nut butter. Stir thoroughly then immediately pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in freezer or refrigerator to cool. Once completely chilled, break into long strips, then break those again into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Store in freezer.
Honey & Vinegar Candy
I’m always looking for ways to use some of my infused vinegars, such as Blackberry Vinegar, and this easy honey candy recipe fits the bill perfectly! For the batch pictured above, I used blueberry infused vinegar (made exactly like the blackberry version.)
- 1 cup honey
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or fruit infused vinegar)
- (optional) 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pour the honey and vinegar into a heavy saucepan. Place pan over medium heat until mixture starts to boil. Adjust the heat lower if needed and let boil until honey reaches 300 degrees F (hard crack stage.) Remove from heat, add vanilla, if desired. Immediately pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in freezer or refrigerator to cool. Once completely chilled, break into long strips, then break those again into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Store in freezer. These start off crunchy, but turn rather chewy after a few seconds!
A few tips to remember:
- Be sure to calibrate your candy thermometer periodically. Dip the tip of it in a small pot of boiling water (you can do this while cooking pasta too, as a time saver) and let it stay for a few minutes without touching the sides or bottom. It should read 212 degrees F (at sea level). My candy thermometer happens to be ten degrees off! So, I have to keep that in mind when making candies and adjust accordingly. It WILL make a difference in your recipe. (For more information on this, check out Ray’s comment below in the comment section that gives further details as to why simply putting your thermometer in boiling water won’t always work.)
- Honey can scorch and burn if heated too high – be sure to stay nearby and keep checking the temperature with your candy thermometer.
- Store honey based candies in the freezer (in single layers, between parchment paper) until right before ready to eat.
- You can also pour the hot candy into lollipop molds. (Just remember the “chew factor” for small kids!)
- Try different flavored extracts instead of vanilla – such as: lemon or peppermint for a great taste variation.
- Fill your still-hot pot with warm, soapy water soon after pouring out the candy and let it soak for a while in your sink – it will make cleaning up infinitely easier!
If you like this recipe, I think you will love my Naturally Sweet Treats ebook!