The making and eating of taffy is an indulgent Christmas tradition amongst the Welsh. Many families and friends would get together to share an evening’s meal, play games, tell stories and of course, make some delicious taffy. Traditionally, taffy was popular and made in the coal-mining areas around the country. For many of these poverty-stricken areas, sugar and sweet foods were a rarity and a luxurious Christmas treat. When added to a generous helping of plentiful creamy Welsh butter, a delicious and smooth toffee was created.
Throughout history, the making of taffy has been considered a skilful art form, as unlike other toffees, Welsh toffee is twisted and pulled while it is still hot. This makes long strands of the sugary treat and gives the finished taffy a much chewier texture.
The making of taffy and the celebrations surrounding it take place on Christmas Eve, also known as Noson Gyflaith or toffee evening in Wales. The tradition was and in some places still is, a big part of the festive celebrations. Many families celebrating would stay up until the early hours of Christmas morning, to attend the Plygain service and procession which took place around 3 am – 6 am. To pass the time, people would make taffy and decorate their homes. The service would consist of singing and worshipping by candlelight and of course, sharing the freshly made taffy.
Why not have a go at making some traditional Welsh taffy while staying at our Christmas holiday parks? Try our delicious recipe below.
675g soft brown sugar
225g salted butter (leave out of the fridge the night before)
Juice of ½ lemon
70 litres of boiling water
1. Melt the sugar in the water.
Sugar can be quite difficult to melt if you haven’t done it before, its advised if it’s one of your first times to use a sugar thermometer to get the optimum consistency. You will want the sugar to reach around 135 degrees Celsius before going onto the next stage.
2. Add the lemon juice and butter to the melted sugar until all ingredients are well mixed.
3. Pour the hot toffee mixture onto a pre-buttered surface. If you have a marble surface in your home, that would be best. Alternatively, use a plate or tin.
4. Flatten the toffee on to the surface; this encourages it to cool slightly.
5. Once the mixture has cooled enough to hold, start to twist and pull the taffy into your desired shapes. As you manipulate the taffy, it will become much easier to handle, will a more elastic texture than liquid.
6. Cool on a windowsill with the window open, once cool, enjoy!