THE SCIENCE and magic of cinder toffee will keep your dentist on standby in a nice sort of way.

Sure, it will rot your teeth and make the weighing scale go up a little, but there’s nothing quite like the sweet crunchiness of cinder toffee.

As darkness descends next Tuesday evening and we’ve remembered to turn the calendar over, we will find most Keighley folks standing outside in the freezing cold, staring at a burning fire, waving a sparkler intermittently, and wearing muddy wellies.

Bonfire Night, it’s called.

Cinder toffee is something we once munched on around the bonfire along with plot toffee, toffee apples and Parkin pigs with the name often called hokey poke resembling lumps of burnt coal I guess.

This recipe is very easy to make using minimum ingredients found in most kitchen cupboards, for a honeycomb chemistry-experiment snack.

It’s impossible not to eat one piece too many, because it has an addictive, slightly bitter edge, thanks to the caramelised sugar and bicarbonate of soda that creates all the viscous, erupting, volcanic bubbles.

Other than a burnt pan, not a lot can go wrong with this recipe.

It’s critical you use a big pan, as a wave of potential skin blistering lava could erupt from under your kitchen door as the golden syrup reaches very high temperatures.

I have fond memories of bonfire night: the exciting build up, progging with dad’s blunt axe, guarding, building and competing for the biggest bonfire in the neighborhood.

Making a guy made from dad’s cast-offs, pushing him around in a wheelbarrow from street to street.

We had Mischievous Night, jack-o-lanterns carved out of turnips not pumpkins, and no Health and Safety then.

Mum always baked Parkin pigs, which I’m hoping you all will be making again this year, along with granny’s rib-sticking Parkin eaten with steaming pie and peas and mint sauce.

Jacket spuds wrapped in foil chucked into the embers of the dyeing fire, poked with a big stick.

Money from Guy Fawkes bought us fireworks like Roman candles, Catherine wheels, Air-bombs and traffic lights.

But what usually happens when you grow up is, when you get home from work it’s slippers on and feet up watching the telly - but I do have a sneaky peep out of the landing window before I go to bed munching on a Parkin pig!

Cinder Toffee recipe

Warning before you start - be very careful when boiling the pan of sugars and always keep an eye out for excited children within the kitchen.


300g/10oz caster sugar

200g/7oz golden syrup

15g/1/2oz bicarbonate of soda, sift

200g/7oz good quality dark chocolate


1. Parchment-line a 20cm square-lipped small roasting tin or similar cake tin.

2. Sift the bicarbonate of soda on to a small plate.

3. In a large sauce pan, add the Castor sugar and golden syrup.

4. Stir over a gentle heat with a wooden spoon, trying not to let the mixture bubble, until all the sugars have melted.

5. Once completely melted, turn the heat up a little, then keep stirring until you have a golden amber colour; this won’t take long.

6. As quickly as you can, turn off the heat and add the bicarbonate of soda, beating it well with the wooden spoon until it has all disappeared and the mixture is foaming up.

7. Scrape into the parchment-lined tin immediately, somewhere safe and out of reach of children - please be very careful as the mixture and pan will be very hot.

8. Place the hot pan at once into soapy hot water.

9. The mixture will continue bubbling in the tin, simply leave it a good hour for the honeycomb to set and harden.

10. Once the cinder toffee has set, melt the chocolate in the microwave and pour over the top.

11. Allow the chocolate to set then crumble or snap into chunks.

*More of my amazing bonfire recipes like Parkin pigs, Yorkshire Parkin, Moggy ginger cake, toffee apples and plot toffee, can be found on the Keighley News website by using the search bar.