Cinder Toffee

I had a day off today, and it’s too cold to clean the bike, so I’m making cinder toffee instead. Or Hokey Pokey as Nigella would call it, and where I started my plan for making it.

However, Nigella didn’t specify what temperature to take the mix to, and as I’ve got a new candy thermometer, I wanted temperatures. I found this superbly sciencey piece in The Grauniad and so I’m following that recipe. Basically heat 100g caster sugar, 3 tbsps golden syrup in a pan until 150c, then take off the heat and add 1tsp bicarbonate of soda, mix it in, then pour out to set.

I started by getting the thermometer set up in a large pan, so I’d have no boiling over incidents.


Lined a baking tray with parchment ready for the mixture.

IMG_1495Then I got to cooking…

IMG_1494I was slightly concerned that the thermometer was hardly in the mixture. I should have been more concerned. By 130c the mixture was very very dark and smoking… then suddenly it boiled up, and the temperature shot up to above 160c… and I was left with a pan of what looked like coal!


I wasn’t about to give up though. With that pan cooling down, I got a small pan out, put the thermometer as close as I could to the base without it touching it, and started again.


During cooking I made a point to tip the mixture towards the thermometer, and noticed a sharp rise in temperature when I did this: so I guess the sensor isn’t right at the bottom of the probe. So I kept tipping and checking, and when it broke 140c as I tipped the pan up I panicked a bit and took it off the heat right away and added the bicarb, and poured into the baking tray.


While I let that set I put both pans on the back burners and boiled water in them to clean them. The smaller pan took just a few minutes of simmering and then a quick wash in the sink and it was fine. Amazingly the large burned-to-a-crisp pan survived too! Granted it took 3 lots of boiling over 30 minutes and then a Brillo pad… but it’s all clean now!

Once set I removed the baking parchment, which was surprisingly easy, then wrapped it back in the parchment and put inside a plastic bag and gave it a bashing with a rolling pin, and hey presto: cinder toffee. Although looking a little dark: maybe that’s because I used golden caster sugar not white?


Turns out it is a little bitter, so it’s probably the heat that’s off not the sugar. I’ll use the smallest pan next time… but I still think that’s I’ll have to tip the pan up to check the temperature. I also might aim for ‘soft crack’ temperature of 140c rather than 150c.

Still, was fun to try making it, and it was very nice with some fruit and frozen yogurt (which I had in an attempt to limit the damage of eating boiled sugar!).

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