Welcome back, American friends! Time for you to get caught up on Downton, and this first episode’s a doozy. You get scheming, illicit sex, fireworks over the dinner table, and an honest-to-god bonfire. So what could be more appropriate to snack on this episode than that Bonfire Night favourite, cinder toffee?

Also known as honeycomb, puff candy, and hokey pokey (for reasons unknown), cinder toffee is a sweeter, more widely appealing Bonfire Night treat than bonfire toffee, which is made with treacle and can be a bit bitter. Either one can be part of the menu as people gather around to watch the fireworks and burn Guy Fawkes in effigy every 5 November.

Cinder Toffee

Recipe by Andy Connelly, via The Guardian


100g caster sugar
3 T golden syrup
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

Mix the caster sugar and golden syrup together in a heavy-bottomed pan large enough to accommodate the rising sugar when it bubbles up.

Put the pan on a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. At this point, stop stirring and heat until the mixture reaches 145-150C on a candy thermometer (the lower heat will produce a stickier toffee, while heating to 150 will make the final toffee more brittle. It’s just a matter of preference).

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, take a small amount of the syrup and drop it into a glass of cold water. Take the solidified drop out and observe its texture; the harder the texture the higher the temperature. For making cinder toffee you need the sugar to form a hard ball that cracks on contact with the cold water (referred to as the hard crack temperature).

Add the bicarbonate of soda, take off the heat, and stir. Be careful, as the mixture will suddenly bubble up.

Quickly pour the gooey bubbling mixture onto a baking tray covered with grease proof paper or greased foil. Leave to cool and crack it into pieces. Store in an airtight container, or cover in chocolate and then store.

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