Sunday, 5 November 2017

A Reflective Foodie Friday On A Sunday - Cinder Toffee

Looking back over the years I don't tend to post on November 5th that often, normally when I do it's a tribute to my dad or more personal posts about grief and loss, but this year I decided to do something a little bit different.

Losing someone you love is hard but when it's on a day that people celebrate or that means something to everyone, then it's even harder. On November 5th 2002, I lost my dad very suddenly, and ever since then I've hated Bonfire Night was a passion, every single bang and sparkle of light, brings back memories that quite frankly I don't want to remember.

Life doesn't change for other people though , so I guess you just need to get on with it, and try and embrace it with the best of them. So I'm writing this post, attempting to calm down some very scared kitty cats, looking at the pretty lights outside of the window and trying to remember the happy times.

So many of my good memories of my dad, my grans, and my childhood concern food, and the 5th November is no different, from baked potatoes and beans, to parkin,  and to treacle toffee and cinder toffee, food like fragrance, is intrinsically linked to our feelings and memories.

My mam used to be a big sweet maker, every year she'd make trays of peppermint creams, fudge, coconut ice, rum truffles and cinder toffee for us to eat in the run up to, and at Christmas. When you look at recipes associated with Guy Fawkes night, Cinder Toffee is always somewhere on the list. Cinder Toffee is one of the most names associated with it, at least up north, but you might know it as Hokey Pokey, Puff Candy, or Sponge Candy, or as Honeycomb. Yes it's that brittle, yet chewy toffee, that's full of air bubble, that you'll find in your Crunchie bar.


It's easy enough to buy it on it's own or covered with chocolate but like so many things it's often hard to beat something that's homemade. It isn't the hardest thing to make but you do need to be a bit careful in more ways than one. There are a few different recipes out there but this is our go to.


Cinder Toffee

3 Heaped Tablespoons Of Golden Syrup Or Treacle 
7oz (200g) Caster Sugar
1 1/2oz (40g) Butter
2 Tablespoons Cold Water
1/2 Teaspoon Vinegar
1 Heaped Teaspoon Of Bicarbonate Of Soda

1. Well grease a loaf tin or line with non stick parchment paper  - Okay as you can see this isn't a loaf tin it's a small roasting tin, which on reflection wasn't the best tin to make this in as it ended up a bit thinner then it should have done. You needn't be too precise with size but it's better to make it in a smaller and deeper tin, than a larger shallower one like this one.


2. To make this recipe you really need a good quality heavy bottomed pan, the pan is going to get hot so you want something that's pretty substantial. I'm using a pressure cooker pan here.


Add your sugar, syrup, butter and cold water and heat gently until the sugar is melted, stirring all the time


3. When your sugar has melted, turn up the heat until it reaches a continuous rolling boil. If you have a sugar thermometer your mixture needs to reach 290˚ F or 143˚ C. If you don't have one though don't worry, get yourself a cup of cold water and keep testing the mixture by dripping blobs into the water. The mixture will go through several stages but eventually the mixture will become hard and brittle and snap when you drop it into the water.


4. Once it's reached that stage take the pan off the heat, and add the vinegar and the vinegar and the bicarb, and give it a good stir. It will expand slightly at this stage, and foam and change colour slightly. (Make sure that your bicarbonate of soda isn't too near the expiry date - the longer you have it the more it loses it potency - a new tub will give the best results)


5. Then pour it CAREFULLY in to your tin - Don't be tempted to touch the mix with your hands or taste it - it will be stupidly hot.


6. Then leave your tray in a cool dry place for a few hours until it's set solid. No matter how well you've greased your tin it will still be nigh on impossible to get it out of the tin. I suggest either hitting your cinder toffee with a hammer or careful drop the tray onto the floor to break up your toffee. You won''t get any neat squares with this rough shards are what you should be aiming for.


You can either eat it straight away or you can store it for a few days in a cool, dry airtight tin. It should be the perfect combo of brittle and chewy. You can either eat as is, or you can cover it chocolate, use it with a chocolate fondue, or you can crush it up and use for an ice cream topping, in butter cream or whipped cream in cakes, or in cookies or flapjacks.

This isn't the most dentist friendly treat so watch those crowns and fillings, and brush your teeth after you've gorge. I'm at the dentist this week so this probably wasn't the perfect thing to eat this weekend but I enjoyed it anyways, and sometimes a little bit of what you fancy does you good. What do you call cinder toffee? Let me know in the comments and I hope you have a safe and enjoyable Guy Fawkes night x 

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