Hi!, I am planning to make some chewy caramels this week and was toying with the idea of subbing honey for corn syrup. Do you have any suggestions on how to successfully do this?
Corn syrup is present in a lot of caramel/candy recipes because it prevents crystallization -- I imagine you could swap it out for honey, but you may risk the texture of your finished product.
David Lebovitz has a great post about this, in which he recommends using a dash of lemon juice or cream of tartar if you don't have corn syrup -- either of these will do the job of preventing any crystals from forming in your caramel. You can still use the honey if you like, for sweetness, but that part is up to you!
Honey, like corn syrup (and molasses), is an invert sugar, meaning a sugar in solution. What keeps them from crystallizing is that they contain a small amount of acid, known as an "interfering agent", which basically causes their molecules to spin around such that like poles try to match up with each other, sort of like extremely tiny bumper cars. That is why lemon juice or cream of tartar (dissolve it in a small amount of water first) will fulfill the same function. Long story short: go for the honey! The flavor is bound to be wonderful.
As said above, both honey and corn syrup are invert sugars, so both may serve the purpose in the caramel of preventing crystallization. Honey also does give nice flavor - my base recipe for my caramels includes a small amount of honey for flavor. However, honey is more hygroscopic than corn syrup, which means it draws in more moisture from the air, and as a result if you substitute honey for all of the corn syrup you may end up with a much softer caramel or one that won't set up properly. I had this problem when I converted my base recipes from corn syrup to brown rice syrup, and found that I needed to reduce the ratio of the rice syrup to the granulated sugar, and I also found that I needed to cook the caramel an extra degree or two to ensure it set up properly.
All of that said, I have made these antique honey caramels before http://www.brooklynfarmhouse.com/2009/06/23/antique-recipe-honey-caramels/ which are very tasty, but definitely more on the sticky side than regular caramels.