Growing up in the eighties in Malta meant that chocolate was not an integral part of my childhood, or any of my peers coming from the same socio economic background as mine.
Right from the sixties when the British left the island and made everyone believe that we had become independent as a nation, a lot of cut backs had to be made in order for everyone to get back on their feet, the Government was now free to deal with whoever nation he deemed to be of benefit for the economy, unfortunately at the time Malta seemed to make a lot of revenue by dealing with Communist countries from the eastern side of the globe especially China, cannot still understand till this day why Chocolate and Toothpaste where the first things to vanish with the departure of the British. And yes thinking back to my first nine years of life I have very rare memories of eating chocolate and brushing my teeth.
The Prime Minister at the time was adamant and made it even illegal for anyone to import chocolate from the British, any other chocolate producing country was far too exotic for anyone to even consider, the Maltese did not travel for leisure much during this time, they travelled to migrate, to escape from their mother land, chocolate was the least of their worries.
Whenever I try to remember any childhood chocolate memory, I cannot help but connect it to my father, who somehow despite all the shortage still managed although rarely to buy us some, he used to acquire our chocolate fix from a hole in a wall who literally sold everything, I even had my ears pierced there, and indeed one thing he sold was foreign chocolate from under the counter. These did not come cheap, I remember dad paying even Five Maltese pounds for a Mars bar, that is about ten euros today and the equivalent of a days’ salary at the time.
We were obviously repeatedly told to keep our mouths shut about the matter, no one had to know, especially our mother, for obvious reasons.
I do have a distinct image of my father proudly removing his trousers, after arriving from a trip to London to reveal he had stuck to one leg the maximum number of Cadbury treats to one leg and a dozens of toothpaste tubes to the other, it’s an almost surreal image I have imprinted in my memory whom a lot of people would find disturbing, but all this image brings forward is how wonderfully fucked up our childhood was, and the extremes to which our parents, my father in this particular situation would go through for his family to enjoy a bar of chocolate. It was during this particular day I first tasted the ‘’Crunchie’’ bar and till this day it’s still one of my favourite candy bars of all time.
‘’Crunchie’’ bar is essentially golden honey comb covered in Milk chocolate, the honeycomb was always such a mystery to me, it was as close as I could get to eating pure gold.
I learnt to make Honey Comb a long time ago, and always cover it in chocolate. I am sharing my recipe with you today, so even in days where your government decides to go all communist on you, you are never caught without your own Crunchie Bar.
Home Made Honey Comb.
1 ½ cups white castor sugar
¼ cup Honey
¼ cup Water.
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
In an aluminium or stainless steel sauce pan mix all the ingredients and place on medium heat, once on the heat do not mix to avoid crystallization of the sugar, although the honey will also act as a retardant for the sugar to seize on you.
Never not use non-stick pans to make caramel based sweets, it makes the sugar crystallize or burn too quickly, if you are worried about cleaning the pan from the hardened caramel, its dead easy, just fill the pan with water, cover and heat , all the hard caramel will dissolve fuss free, even the one on the sides will be dissolved by the steam.
Heat the sugar/Honey/Water mixture until it reaches 220 degrees centigrade on a sugar thermometer, as soon as the temperature is reached mix in the one tablespoon of Baking Powder, and immediately you will notice the syrup will start to foam and turn golden in colour.
Place the foaming mixture in a heat proof dish lined in grease proof paper, The Honey Comb will go hard on cooling, be patient.
Melt really good quality dark or milk chocolate in a Bain Marie and drizzle over the Honey Comb, I like to chop mine into bite size pieces.
Store in an airtight container for as long as you can help yourself from eating the lot.
Brush your teeth as soon as you are done eating it, make the most of the toothpaste you have in your bathroom and never ever take it for granted, I know I don’t.