Emma Cullen shares a favourite family recipe…

I love this time of year. The air is crisp, big fluffy jumpers can come out of the wardrobe, and the pavements are covered in red and yellow leaves. The autumnal hues aren’t just reserved for foliage, however – visit any farmers’ market at the moment and you’ll see an abundance of colourful vegetables: heritage carrots and red, yellow and purple beetroots, for example. I even picked up a purple cauliflower just a few weeks ago (gorgeous roasted with some garlic and then dipped in hummus).

It’s also coming up to my favourite night of the year: Bonfire Night, an evening dedicated to lighting up the sky and enjoying some fabulous seasonal and traditional foods. Those up North will be busy baking their parkin ready to let it mature over the next few days for maximum flavour (James Martin made a particularly lovely parkin last week on Saturday Kitchen).

But, for me, Bonfire Night is about one particular recipe. Each year on the 5th November, my dad and I dig out an old, battered Delia Smith cookbook – not for culinary inspiration from Delia, but to retrieve a tatty note tucked inside the cover. On this precious piece of paper is my grandmother’s famous treacle toffee recipe. Studying the faded words and trying to remember exactly how we did it last year is a tradition we carry out every November. It’s actually not very difficult to make and is reasonably straightforward, so if you haven’t ever made your own, give it a whirl and get everyone involved.

Grandma Cullen’s Treacle Toffee Recipe:


500 grams of dark brown sugar
75 grams of butter
100 grams of black treacle
100 grams of syrup
Five fluid ounces of water
About one quarter of teaspoon of cream of tartar


Place the sugar and water in saucepan and gently dissolve. Then add all the ingredients and bring to the boil. Keep it boiling for about five minutes, then test a little of the mixture. Do this by dropping a blob in a glass of cold water: if it keeps it shape and forms a little chewable blob, it’s ready.

Pour the mixture into a greased tin. Before it gets too solid, run a knife through the toffee to separate it into squares and chill until hard. We normally wrap the individual pieces in squares of greaseproof paper, twist the ends, and fill our pockets with them before heading out into the cold to watch the fireworks.

Emma Cullen

Emma Cullen

Emma is an ex-Fed Up & Drunker that has been released into the wild

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3 Responses to A Treacle Toffee Treat for Bonfire Night

  1. Avatar Amanda says:

    Grandma Cullen knows where it’s at! Can I come round for treacle toffee please x

  2. Avatar itsbwitched says:

    I love this kind of post because it reminds me I’m foreign in the best possible way… by reminding me there is still so much of this country I have yet to discover. For one, I had to Google what ‘parkin’ was and looking at the toffee recipe I have no idea what black treacle is or where one would go about acquiring it lol But the toffee looks really cool, like black gems!

    • Michelle Grady Michelle Grady says:

      Glad to have helped you discover something new! Black treacle can be bought in most supermarkets I think – let us know if you find some and give it a go!

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