Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Thank goodness for Nigella

All that was left of batch number 3!

Last 'bonfire night' my cinder toffee was a disaster and ended up unceremoniously dumped in the bin. This year I decided to get practicing early to hone my skills and produce cinder toffee that my mum would be proud of!  Over half term, with the weather cold and miserable and Master Vander-Cave at a loose end we decided to try out Nigella Lawson's recipe for Hokey Pokey (which is the Cornish name for cinder toffee apparently). I am so glad we tried this recipe first as out of the hundreds of recipes available on the internet it produced perfect toffee first time. Master V-C loved the bubbling up of the hot molten sugary mix when the bicarbonate of soda was added, pronouncing it "cool". This is a rare compliment from him in these days of the pre-teen condescension that he has mastered scarily quickly.

To add extra excitement to our toffee we dipped it in melted milk chocolate to produce home made 'Crunchies'. Interestingly, the chocolate covered offerings disappeared quickest at the village bonfire party, probably because Master V-C was telling all the children how good the home made Crunchies were. He was over heard saying to one of the junior villagers "do you want that one, it has no chocolate on it?". By the time the adults got a look in all the chocolate ones were gone. I ended up making another batch the next day for the farmer who missed out on the chocolate covered pieces on the night and has a healthy appetite for sweet treats. Also, as provider of the fireworks and farmland, deserved to be suitably rewarded!
Nigella's recipe doesn't make a lot so I made double the recipe for the party.

Cinder toffee

200 grams caster sugar
8 tablespoons golden syrup
3 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

Put the sugar and syrup into a saucepan and stir together to mix. You mustn't stir once the pan's on the heat, though.

Place the pan on the heat and let the mixture first melt, then turn to goo and then to a bubbling mass the colour of maple syrup - this will take 3 minutes or so.

Take the pan off the heat, whisk in the bicarbonate of soda and watch the syrup turn into a whooshing cloud of aerated pale gold.

Turn this immediately onto a piece of reusable baking parchment or greased foil (perhaps in a tray). I use my silicone baking tray.

Leave until set and then gently bash at it, so that it splinters into many glinting pieces. Once broken up one can dip the pieces in melted chocolate and leave to set again.

Note; if the toffee struggles to set, pop it in the fridge to finish it off!


  1. No, not nigella's recipe?! I have tried this about 5 times and it never works! I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but it always tastes really bicarby and burnt. Did you use a sugar thermometer? Help..really want to make a successful batch x

  2. No I didn't use a thermometer,just got it to really bubbling and left it slightly longer than I thought it should have. (I'm bad at not cooking stuff for long enough!)I then used a balloon whisk to whisk in bicarb which I had ready measured out. Have you tried testing a bit of the mixture in a glass of water to see if you get to hard ball stage? x

  3. I've used a thermometer but not tested in water. Wonder if I'm cooking too long! Might try again later. It always looks thick and frothy, but quickly deflates when cooling and goes quite shiny :-(

  4. I get a shiny top on mine too. I am impressed by your perseverance I would have given up by now I it was me! good luck! x