Students in James Atzrott's Culinary Arts program, at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center, recently got a lesson in a Buffalo favorite, sponge candy. The treat is uniquely a Western New York one due to the fact that it is very sensitive to heat and humidity and does not travel well.
Candy maker Dave Selig spent an afternoon with the students showing them how he makes the candy. He starts by making the toffee center which is comprised of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and baking soda. "When you are making candy, it is very important to get the temperature right. It can change the whole character of the product," he explains to the students. "Once it hardens, you have to saw off the exterior to get to the soft inside." He told the class that the recipe makes about 5-6lbs a batch and a lot of stores sell it for $18-$20 a pound. "Not bad for three and a half hours of your time."
After the sponge is cut into pieces the students dipped it into chocolate and then were able to enjoy the end product and share with staff. "It was great that Mr. Selig was able to come in and show my students how to make this traditional Easter candy," says Mr. Atzrott. "It is very hard to get this in other places, so it is unique to us. There is a real art to making it."