Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spongy Lou


Until I moved to Chicago, I didn't know that sponge candy was a regional treat. My co-workers were very afraid when I first offered them sponge candy, but ever since, they still ask specifically for some on my annual visits to the office.

I love sponge candy but it was the last thing on my mind yesterday at the craft show. My mom and I (well, mostly my mom) set up Wash My Cloth (our 'all About Us' page is up, thanks Lisa!) at the local middle school on Saturday. It was less than stellar. However, the day wasn't a bust. I met Louise.

Louise makes beautiful fabric dolls. Raggedy Ann and Andy, finger puppets and those Little Red Riding Hood dolls that turn upside down and inside out to become not only Little Red, but her Grandmother and the Wolf. Beautiful attention to detail and clearly made with love.

When there aren't any customers, vendors begin to commiserate with each other. I had mentioned why I thought selling through Etsy.com was a much better idea than a table in a gymnasium. One vendor heard me and the conversation began.

I was telling Louise about Etsy and she got out her pen and jotted it down on her notebook. I had a preconceived notion about Louise that she didn't know much about computers. I was clearly mistaken. Not only did she know a good amount about computers, she had a Facebook account and plays Scrabble on line with her family in Sweden. Then, we talked about my weaving. We realized we took the same weaving class at Buffalo State College with the SAME teacher. Louise had Nancy Belfer when Nancy just started teaching. I had Nancy the year before she retired. Small world.

But here is the magic. Louise makes her own sponge candy. I can't believe how few ingredients compose the sponge part. Here it is:

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dark Karo syrup

1 tbsp. white vinegar

1 tbsp. baking soda

24 oz Milk Chocolate (I used chips, melting chocolate would work, too)


Combine sugar, syrup and vinegar in pot. Heat to 290-300 degrees, stirring constantly. Remove from heat* and add baking soda. Mix well, pour mixture in baking pan sprayed with Pam or other quick release spray. Place in cool area**. Once dried, break apart***. Coat in melted milk chocolate. Eat!

* Not totally sure about this, I did remove from heat to add the soda.

** Not sure if it should be refrigerator or just a cool area. I left it on the counter and it seemed to sink. Could either be the lack of cool air to quick cool, or the fact that my Baking Soda could be from 2005.

*** This will yield odd shaped pieces. You won't be able to cut with a knife. Louise lays the knife on its side and taps the sponge to crack it. I jammed the tip of the knife in the sponge and tapped the end and it just cracked apart in decent sizes.

If my sponge didn't sink, it would definitely be comparable to the high end sponge candy. Mine was harder than the usual and didn't stick to my teeth as much as the commercially made sponge.

I am amazed at the small cost of ingredients relative to the cost of the commercially made sponge. Try it, it is easy, and can get some aggression out with the breaking of the sponge. And please add a comment if it works or doesn't work for you. Next time, I am going to try it with new baking soda and light Karo syrup.

I hope Louise doesn't think I am a stalker. I gave her this blog address.

She is going to think I am a stalker.

At least I am a crafty stalker with a sweet tooth.

***

Just found this on etsy.com, I must say, I am a bit scared. Talk about smelling like you were out all night drinking...

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