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Buffalo Sponge Candy

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I am so excited to finally have a recipe for sponge candy to share with you! I have been testing out recipes and techniques for months now. I have had many failed batches and have spent quite a bit of time scrubbing scorched sugar out of pans. I am a total newb to candy making, and I tried at least 4 different recipes twice before I found one I was happy to share with you.

But, before we jump into the recipe and all that fun candy making stuff, let’s talk about Sponge Candy. If you are from Upstate New York, particularly the Buffalo Region, there is probably no explanation needed. This sweet Buffalo treat has been expertly crafted by longtime confectioners such as Watson’s, Fowler’s, Alethea’s, and Parkside, While many confectioners make and sell sponge candy, this popular confection can also be found in the bulk foods section of Wegmans.

These chocolates have a light-as-air crispy “sponge” of aerated toffee, you can find dark chocolate and milk chocolate sponge candy. If you have never had sponge candy, maybe you just know it by another name. The crispy “sponge” interior is not exclusive to our part of the country, in fact, it is known by a wide variety of names in different regions.

  • sea foam in Maine, Washington, Oregon, Utah, California, and Michigan, United States
  • sponge candy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, St. Paul, Minnesota, Northwest Pennsylvania, and of course Western New York, United States
  • sponge toffee in Canada

Ok, let’s get back to the candy making, First off, I am a novice candy maker, terms like hardball and soft-crack are all foreign to me. I started with a recipe that had “easy” in the title and required no candy thermometer. I actually attempted this recipe a few times before moving on, it resulted in a flat candy with little aeration and was a no go for me.

The second recipe I tried using vinegar, I thought that would combat the “flatness” of the first few batches. It did, and that is putting it mildly. It is shocking is how long sponge candy can and will continue to expand, even after it has been poured in a pan. Big mess would be an understatement for what happened in my kitchen that day.

With each and every attempt I was beginning to grasp the concept of candy making, and also discover where my challenges were coming from. I quickly realized with each and every single attempt, though, was that my smooth top electric stove lacked precise temperature control, and even heating, which was where the majority of my problems stemmed from. All of my problems were easily fixed with a cheap candy thermometer.  If sponge candy is your first venture into candy making, I can not strongly enough suggest picking up a thermometer, especially if you have an electric stove. I can also see where an induction cook-top would be very handy in this process if you have one.  I had a NuWave Precision Induction Cooktop, but sadly,  it mysteriously just quit working before I began my quest to make sponge candy, has anyone else had this problem?

 Buffalo Sponge Candy

Buffalo Sponge Candy

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

These chocolates have a light-as-air crispy “sponge” of aerated toffee and are especially common in the Buffalo area.


  • 1/4 tsp Gelatin unflavored
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp baking soda sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate, melted and tempered for dipping


  1. Line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper, with extra paper hanging over the sides. Alternatively, butter and dust the pan with flour. Tapping out the excess flour.
  2. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1 tablespoon cold water and allow to bloom.
  3. In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan 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. Clip on candy thermometer onto the side of the saucepan and cook without stirring until the syrup reaches 310 F.
  4. Remove from heat and let sit for two minutes undisturbed, the bubbling will subside, and the temperature will drop. Add gelatin and whisk, be careful, the sugar syrup will bubble up. Sprinkle baking soda over syrup and whisk vigorously. Return mixture to the heat and whisk for 30 seconds. The sugar will expand in the pot, a lot!
  5. 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. Leave the pan undisturbed, and allow the candy to cool completely (about 2 hours or overnight) before removing from the pan.
  6. Either break into odd pieces or cut into squares. This is an incredibly messy process, but fun! 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.
  7. Melt chocolate melts in a double boiler (or bowl sitting above a pot of boiling water). Dip sponge candies in chocolate, tap off excess. Chill in the fridge to set the chocolate shell.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 292Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 331mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 2gSugar: 49gProtein: 1g

With all my failed sponge candy attempts behind me, once I found what I think is the best recipe for sponge candy, I realized it really isn’t that difficult, and dare I say maybe even a little fun! After the sponge has set, the real fun begins! Breaking or cutting the candy is a messy endeavor, there will be a ton of “crumbles”, save these in a Ziploc bag (air is not a friend to sponge candy, especially when it is humid out) they are pretty tasty as an ice cream topping. It is fun to snap the candy into that well-known cube shape, and a good job for kids who want to be involved.

Coating the sponge candy in chocolate helps protect the delicate sponge from humidity, and tastes delicious. You can use milk or dark chocolate, to suit your tastes or mood.  Melting wafers are especially easy-to-use, with minimal fuss the wafers ensure a smooth and even melting. I melted mine in the microwave at a reduced power level so it wouldn’t burn, and no tempering is required so it will set up correctly and have that characteristic chocolate sheen.

Candy making can be tricky, but now that I have some basic skills and knowledge under my belt, I will be whipping these candies up as gifts around Christmas time for friends and family, I think they will be pleasantly surprised, or not if they read my blog .


Thursday 2nd of June 2022

Hi this is one of the best recipes I’ve found yet

When making it I find the candy itself is to sticky like in the it is not the crunchiness of sponge candy.

Any tips for what may help? Thanks


Tuesday 1st of February 2022

Hi! Is gelatin a must? Or is there another substitute I can use? Would love to try and veganize this recipe. Thanks!


Thursday 27th of January 2022

love your site! Lots of recipes and tips. Being from Buffalo, I think there might be a couple names that need to be corrected. Buffalo is called Western NY. Also, having purchased many boxes of candy from Fowler’s and Park Candy, it’s simply called Sponge Candy. Perhaps it can be found with a different name, but I’ve not seen it. Thank you for all your time and energy!


Saturday 19th of February 2022

@Jennifer Morrisey, grew up on this stuff. I drive an hour every Easter to get this in Erie, PA. Your recipe looks great, will give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

Jennifer Morrisey

Friday 28th of January 2022

Thank you for your kind words about my site! I have included the origin of most of the regional recipes here in the name of the recipe to help readers easily identify where they are traditionally served. Some of New York's regional dishes can be pretty obscure and may be unfamiliar to readers in other parts of New York. Adding the location where the recipe is particularly popular is a simple way for me to easily and clearly provide context to readers who are searching through my recipe archives, or looking for a hometown favorite.


Sunday 23rd of January 2022

Wow 3rd time making it and I left it in the burner longer and it kept expanding. Can’t wait to try this during the Bills game tonight. Wish I could assumed a picture! Buffalo girl and this is much better than what we can but at the grocery stores. If I could master getting the chocolate thinner it would be like Fowlers.

Ginger Lee

Saturday 29th of January 2022

@Sheila, add a bit of Crisco to your chocolate.

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