Recipe: Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Hokey Pokey, it would seem, is not just a toddler’s dance. Down Under, it’s a beautiful, fluffy, yet crispy piece of confectionery delight enjoyed from New Zealand to England.  Even Nigella Lawson loves a good nibble of this treat – straight out of a gift box, in the car – from time to time.

Traditional recipes use golden syrup, but since I don’t have any of that, I used honey which gave the hokey pokey the most incredible,  buzz-worthy flavor and just about turned me into a honey bee. Friends at my writer’s group suggested it tastes somewhat like peanut brittle without the peanut. All the tiny air holes make it crunch like a wafer, though.

In my reading, I found that many people have trouble making this sweet treat, even though there are only three ingredients. As with any candy making, a good candy thermometer is a great idea, although I double checked my reading by dropping the candy into a bowl of ice water and found that to be more reliable.

You’ll see.

P.S. You can crumble hokey pokey into homemade vanilla ice cream in the last moment of churning, or you can crumble it all over storebought ice cream for a quick fix.

P.P.S. If you make it now, you’ll be eating in less than 30 minutes.

P.P.P.S What are you waiting for? Let’s hokey pokey with the honeybees, by the golden flowers.

Lake Wanaka. Photo by Jason Pratt.

Makes about a 9×11 piece to shatter


1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey or golden syrup
2 tsp baking soda


Vanilla Ice cream


Say hello to the honey bear. She’s so happy to be here with her friends sugar and baking soda. And you, of course.

First step – prepare a lined baking sheet that will be quick and easy to reach from your stovetop.

Like lightening quick.

Then mix the honey and sugar together in a fairly large pot (you’ll see why in a moment).

Add the candy thermometer and …

… heat over medium high for about five minutes or until 300F (a.k.a. hardball candy stage) and when a little is dropped into ice water off a spoon, it forms a hard ball.

I highly recommend doing the ice water test even if the thermometer reads 300F because you might have it sitting in a hot spot (or a cold spot). I had to cook mine a little longer than my thermometer suggested because of this.

If it doesn’t get to hard ball, the candy won’t harden properly and will come close to pulling your teeth out.

Here’s what mine looked like when ready…

Now, remove the thermometer and whisk in the baking soda. Quickly.

Some people like to sift in the baking soda to make sure it’s evenly distributed. Either way…
It balloons up fast. Once it does, stop whisking or you’ll deflate it.

P.S. You don’t want it to overflow. If it gets close, pour gently and with no hesitation onto your lined baking sheet (I used silpat).

Without disturbing it, let cool for fifteen minutes.

Hammer into manageable pieces…

and eat alone or with ice cream. Store extras immediately at room temperature in an airtight container.

But, ohhh, I highly recommend it with vanilla ice cream.

The reality is, the honey and the vanilla were simply meant to be together.

Who are we to get in the way of that?

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  1. Baking powder? Are you sure it isn’t baking soda? I’ve only ever seen it made with soda… how interesting!

  2. Hokey pokey is my favorite! This was everywhere in NZ, luckily. Whenever I’m feeling lazy, a Crunchie bar crumbled into vanilla ice cream is a quick fix, except there’s chocolate…not a problem. ;)

  3. Our trip leader during our tour of New Zealand last April gave us a very simple recipe for hokey pokey ice cream
    as follows: Top vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce, carmel sauce, and crumbled toffee. YUM!

  4. I’ve never tried making this, but I really should. Using honey seems appropriate as in the UK hokey pokey is the old fashioned term that was replaced by ‘honeycomb’ most famously found in a crunchie bar. Though the real thing is far superior. I think it’s much more popular in New Zealand though and hokey pokey is a much better name :)

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