Cinder Toffee (Puff Candy)

Ok, so this is a tricky little bugger to get right, but here’s the easy bit:

Ingredients

  • 270 g sugar
  • 170 ml water
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

That’s it. First, some notes. These are formed from my own failed attempts to get it right. You may need some trial and error to get it working.

  1. Don’t stir. You’ll be tempted, but you have to resist. The idea is that if you just heat the sugar in a pan, the outsides burn before the sugar has fully melted / caramelised.
  2. You need to cool it FAST or it flops. I do this by having a baking tray floating in cold water in the sink. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I can do.
  3. Timing is EVERYTHING – as soon as the colour shifts, you need to get it out of the pot. Even when it’s in the tray it’s still hot and the middle can burn. I guess this is why crunchies are always darker on the inside.

Method

Put the water in a pot, add the sugar, stir in, then bring to the boil. It’s going to boil for about twenty minutes, but you need to watch it like a hawk in this time. The idea is that we’re making a saturated sugar solution then boiling off the water. As the sugar drops out of solution (as the water evaporates) it’s much finer than even caster sugar and melts immediately.

DON’T STIR IT. Really, don’t. This will lower the temperature and force big clumps of sugar out of solution early and by the time they’re melted, the rest will have a nasty burnt flavour.

It’ll reduce, it’ll look gloopy and it will start to darken.

DON’T WAIT FOR IT TO BE TOFFEE COLOURED. If you do, it’ll burn in the baking tray. As soon as there’s the first sign of colour darkening, get it off the heat.

Now you need to act like a ninja – with it off the heat, stir in the bicarb FAST. It’ll froth up and go golden. You need to get it into the chilled tray fast, so stir it in rapid-like, then dump the whole lot in the tray floating in the water. All going well, once it cools, you’ll have cinder toffee. Admittedly, it’s a little flat compared to what you buy, but I think I’d need specialist equipment to cool it quicker to get it like that. Although…. ice cube trays…. hmmm 😀

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