I had forgotten how outrageously delicious toffee is. I’ve just eaten a hefty slab of Tom Trot, also known as plot toffee, bonfire toffee, treacle toffee, loshin du or taffi triog if you’re in Wales, claggum, clack or teasing candy if you’re in Scotland, and stickjaw. But not cinder toffee, for although it sounds like it should be part of the bonfire toffee clan, cinder toffee is more like a second cousin as it crunches like honeycomb, rather than locking your jaw together.
Plot toffee is traditionally made on 5 November, hence the name, but as everyone round here seems to be having their bonfire parties tonight in advance of lockdown tomorrow, I brought it forward. Plus sometimes it needs a while to set, so I made it ready for tomorrow.
I love making sweets, I used to make them a lot, although my mother wasn’t too thrilled with my version of Turkish Delight (she still ate them, like mother like daughter). But I had completely forgotten how much toffee boils up, so for awhile my molten sugar teetered on the brink of disaster. Luckily it consolidated and sank back enough for me to increase the heat.
Now I wasn’t actually sure this toffee would work. I’ve never used vegan butter before and had no idea whether there was something
magical chemistry dependent between the dairy and the sugar. But it all seemed to go as planned, even if the wooden spoon I used to scrape out the saucepan became coated like a lollipop and made a hollow sound when tapped.
Once poured and sat, I scored. And then scored again as the first marks didn’t seem to stick. And then I broke. And then I ate. Well, not so much ate as sucked as it had the consistency of a hardboiled sweet. But as soon as it got chewy, it got very chewy, jaw achingly chewy. For about three minutes. And then I sucked at the last scraps stuck between my teeth before my Tom Trot dissolved entirely, leaving my tongue tingling from all that treacle.
In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the wisest thing to make a filling-puller just before lockdown. But fingers crossed, I’ll get away with it.
Day, B. (1998) A Chronicle of Folk Customs, London, Hamlyn
Jones, J. and Deer, B. (1987) Cattern Cakes and Lace, London, Dorling Kindersley Limited
Kightly, C. (1994) The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore, London, Thames and Hudson Ltd.
Wilson, C. (compiler) (date unknown) Favourite Sweets and Toffee Recipes, Sevenoaks, J. Salmon Ltd.