Justine Costigan

A simple recipe for making hokey pokey ice-cream at home. Click for more photos

Make it easy: Hokey pokey ice-cream

A simple recipe for making hokey pokey ice-cream at home. Photo: Justine Costigan

  • Making the hokey pokey ... Place the sugar and golden syrup in a large pot over a low heat and stir constantly until the mixture comes to the boil.
  • Simmer for five minutes over a gentle heat.
  • Make sure you stir occasionally to ensure it doesn't burn. Then add the baking soda, quickly stirring until the mixture froths.
  • Pour the mixture on to a tray lined with baking paper.
  • Leave it to cool.
  • Break the hokey pokey into rough chunks and set aside to add to the ice-cream later.
  • The ice-cream ... Mix the sugar and egg yolks until pale and creamy.
  • Whip the cream into soft peaks.
  • Fold sugar and egg yolks into the cream and stir through chunks of hokey pokey.
  • Pour into a two-litre plastic container and freeze.

Hokey pokey ice-cream has a special place in the hearts of all New Zealanders, and with good reason: the combination of honeycomb chunks stirred through vanilla ice-cream is almost irresistible.

Jane Hingston, in her ABC of Kiwi Food, writes that many New Zealanders would remember making hokey pokey in science at school to observe the "spectacular chemical changes when baking soda is mixed with golden syrup and sugar".

The whipped cream, eggs and sugar give the ice-cream a soft, mousse-like texture, and it can be eaten straight from the fridge, without being softened. 

She also writes that one theory suggests the name hokey pokey comes from the term "hocus pocus ", in a reference to the magic that happens during the cooking process.

Zany Zeus ice-cream.
"If you haven't got hokey pokey (for sale) you're not an ice-cream shop," says Michael Matsis of Zany Zeus. Photo: Mike Lamb

For siblings Michael and Meropi Matsis, who make and sell organic Zany Zeus ice-cream, cheese, yoghurt and milk in Lower Hutt, near Wellington, New Zealand, the love of hokey pokey meant there was no question they would include it in their ice-cream repertoire.

"It's one of those iconic ice-creams," says Michael Matsis. "We couldn't not sell it. If you haven't got hokey pokey (for sale) you're not an ice-cream shop."

Although Michael uses commercial churns to make the Zany Zeus ice-cream, this simple no-churn recipe is a favourite and is perfect for making at home. The whipped cream, eggs and sugar give the ice-cream a soft, mousse-like texture, and it can be eaten straight from the fridge, without being softened.

Although Michael says this recipe is fool-proof, he has a few tips to prevent mishaps in the kitchen.

Whipping cream

Whip until the cream is light and fluffy. If you whip too long the cream will firm too much and start turning into butter. If this happens, don't throw out the cream – put it into a blender on low speed until it actually does turn into butter. Whip a fresh batch of cream for your ice-cream.

Making the hokey pokey

There's always a risk of getting burnt when working with hot sugar. Use a large, wide-brimmed pan to melt the sugar and syrup so that the mixture doesn't overflow when you add the soda. Always heat the hokey pokey on low so you don't burn the sugar. Be patient.

Ingredients

You'll get the best result with high quality ingredients. Zany Zeus uses their own organic cream, free-range organic eggs and organic sugar.

The recipe

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS

Honeycomb:

4 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp golden syrup

1 tsp baking soda

Ice-cream:

4 egg yolks

1 cup caster sugar

500ml cream (35-38 per cent fat)

Makes 2 litres.

METHOD

Hokey pokey

Line a flat baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

Place sugar and golden syrup in a large pot over a low heat and stir constantly until the mixture comes to the boil. (A pot with a wide base will help prevent the liquid bubbling up over the edge.)

Simmer for five minutes over a very gentle heat, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn. Remove the pot from the heat and add the baking soda, quickly stirring until the mixture froths. Immediately pour the mixture onto the lined tray and cool. Once the hokey pokey has cooled, break into rough chunks.

Ice-cream

Beat sugar and egg yolks in a bowl with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.

In another bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold sugar and egg yolk mix into the cream then stir through chunks of hokey pokey. Pour into a two-litre plastic container with a tight fitting lid and freeze overnight or until firm.

Leftover hokey pokey can be added to ice-cream, biscuits and cakes or dipped into melted chocolate, for a homemade crunchie.

The verdict: 10/10

This hokey pokey recipe proves conclusively that you don't need a machine to make great ice-cream at home. With the help of electric beaters to whip the cream, eggs and sugar, it took only 10 minutes from getting the ingredients out of the pantry and fridge to putting the ice-cream in the freezer. Light and mousse-like, with the satisfying crunch of honeycomb, plus truly indulgent sweetness and richness, it's easy to understand why this ice-cream is a Kiwi icon.