I have been meaning to test out a vegan sponge candy for years. Many friends and family are either vegetarian or vegan and cannot enjoy the deliciousness of sponge candy. Most candies out there don’t have this problem, but my version of sponge candy requires gelatin for proper aeration. It took a few tries to get the candy close to the original. I have a few tweaks left to try, but I wanted to share this first success with you.
The bubbles in this vegan sponge candy are a little larger than in my traditional sponge candy. I am still doing a bit of scientific research into the difference in the protein structures of agar agar and gelatin, but it seems that the agar agar protein is not a strong as the gelatin protein. The bubbles in the vegan version are more akin to that of a Violet Crumble or Crunchie candy bar. It’s still delicious, just not quite as smooth!
To make this GMO-free, I used French glucose that was prepared from wheat (This brand). Generally, all corn syrup that is produced in the US is made using GMO corn. As a chemist, I have no problem using GMO-derived corn syrup. Chemically, the corn syrup from GMO or non-GMO corn is exactly the same. The DNA of the corn will have no effect on the corn syrup product. However, if you do not want to support GMOs, use the wheat glucose! It’s definitely more expensive, but glucose has so many uses in candy-making and baking.
Since this is a vegan version, I decided to coat my candy in orange chocolate! I melted a package of semi-sweet chocolate chips, added 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon orange extract. This is a small batch of sponge candy, just the perfect amount to be able to make and eat it in less than 1 week. Keeping the candy around for any longer is tricky in high humidity. Sponge candy tends to melt when it meets too much water.
Full disclosure – Since I coated the candy in semi-sweet chocolate, it wasn’t completely vegan. There was milk in the chocolate! Vegan friends, you know your options when it comes to vegan chocolate. Simply go with a vegan chocolate for the coating.
All my vegan and vegetarian friends, you can now enjoy some traditional Buffalo Sponge Candy!
Vegan & GMO-free Sponge Candy
A Wilde Original
I was trying to add just enough agar agar powder to get tiny bubbles in the sponge candy. If you add more than 1/2 teaspoon of agar agar, the entire batch of candy smells and tastes like the stuff!
1/2 tsp agar agar powder
1 tsp water
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cups glucose
½ cup water
1 tbsp baking soda (sifted)
Line a 9×9-inch pan with parchment paper. Place two 9×20-inch strips of parchment in opposite directions in the pan. Crease at the bottom of the pan and let the edges flop over.
In a small bowl, stir together 1 teaspoon agar agar powder and 2 teaspoons water. Set aside while you prepare the sugar syrup.
In a medium stock pot with high sides, mix sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water together. Heat over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Wash down any sugar crystals from the sides with a wet pastry brush. Clip on candy thermometer and heat to 300° F.
Remove from heat and let sit for two minutes, bubbling should subside (temperature needs to fall to around 275° F). At this point, microwave the agar agar mixture for 15-30 seconds to melt. Add agar agar and whisk it in, be careful, the sugar syrup will bubble up.
Return sugar syrup to the heat and bring temperature back up to 280° F (the temperature will have fallen upon addition of the gelatin). Sprinkle baking soda over syrup and whisk vigorously. Whisk for 30 seconds. The sugar will rise up in the pot, a lot!
Quickly pour into prepared pan, it should come out in a big blob. Do not spread the mixture, just let it settle into the pan. Allow to cool completely (about 2 hours or overnight) before removing from the pan.
Either break into odd pieces or cut into squares (this is a messy process!). To cut into squares – using a serrated knife, score the candy at 1-inch intervals. Snap the candy apart at the score lines. Then score and break into squares.
Coat in your favorite type of chocolate (milk, dark or orange). Enjoy!