The Irish Yellowman Candy is a close relative to the honeycomb toffee but unique in its own way. It’s a traditional sweet treat that has been found at the Ould Lammas Fair in Northern Ireland for centuries.
I am so excited to welcome you to the second month of the Eat the World challenge and this month we are going to Ireland since March is famous for Saint-Patrick’s Day. No Irish blood in you? Well, no worries! You know what they say, everyone’s Irish on St Patty’s day. Since I have quite a few Irish recipes already on my blog, I went in search of a rare gem, a piece fallen from the pot of gold you could say, and found the Yellowman Candy Toffee.
Hammers and Paper Cones
The Yellowman Candy is closely associated with the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle, in Northen Ireland. Now I know what you are going to say: Ireland and Northen Ireland are not the same countries! Very true but the fair goes back to the 17th century, therefore making it Ireland’s oldest fair. And the Yelloman Toffee was sold at the fair prior to the separation. And Saint-Patrick is the patron Saint of both countries. Did I make a good argument?
The fair takes place on the last Monday and Tuesday of August, celebrating the end of the harvest season. You will also find a lot of cattle and local treats to try. The Irish Yellow man can be found as rock hard blocks. It is so hard, merchants will break off pieces with a hammer and serve the rubble to you in paper cones. And it is often accompanied by the famous dulse, a dried seaweed I actually found in New Brunswick a couple of years ago. There is even an old folk song that mentions this Irish toffee candy:
At the ould Lammas Fair boys were you ever there
Were you ever at the Fair In Ballycastle-O?
Did you treat your Mary Ann to some Dulse and Yellow Man
At the ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O
In Flander’s fields afar while resting from the War
We drank Bon Sante to the Flemish lassies O
But the scene that haunts my memory is kissing Mary Ann
Her pouting lips all sticky from eating Yellow Man
As we passed the silver Margy and we strolled along the strand
From the ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle-O
Traditional Irish Food
If you want to know more about traditional Irish food and get more info on the Yellowman and Dulse combo, check out this article on what to eat in Ireland from XYU and Beyond.
I was surprised to see how many Irish recipes I already have on the blog: a gluten-free Irish Bacon Cabbage Millet Soup, a crockpot Chicken and Stout Stew, eggs benedict served on a colcannon. I needed to find something different and came across the Yellaman candy. By the way, the name of that candy is due to the color and not a racial slur as one might first think.
Yellowman Tips for Success
The Yellowman Irish candy is similar to the traditional honeycomb sponge toffee, but the ingredients vary slightly and there is always a touch of vinegar in it. Also, the rind is much thicker. The candy is exceptionally hard and brittle as the sugars are heated to the hard-crack stage (149 °C/300 °F). Apparently, in the old days, the warm toffee was placed on a hook and pulled repeatedly which gave it a light golden color.
The recipe may seem complicated but it was really easy to make as long as you have a candy thermometer and you are quick at the last stage, the bubbling stage. The bubbles are created by the addition of vinegar first, then baking soda, which causes carbon dioxide. Use a tall pan for this as the volume can triple or quadruple. The trick is to quickly and vigorously mix in the baking soda and pour the toffee into a pan before it hardens.
Once it has hardened completely…get your hammer and towel to break it up into chunks. If you like you can dip the pieces in chocolate as well. Keep the dust to top desserts and ice cream.
I served this to my family that came over for a potluck and everyone raved about it. Two cousins playfully fought (sorta) over who could bring some leftovers home. The rest I brought to work and everyone in my department went back for third or fourth servings. So yeah, the Yellowman Candy was a sweet success!
Irish Yellowman Candy
- 450 g/16 oz golden syrup
- 400 g/14 oz light brown sugar
- 20 g/0.75 oz butter
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 heaping tbsp baking soda
- Line an 8 x 8 inch cake pan with a greased parchment paper.
- In a tall saucepan on a medium heat, melt the butter and then stir in the brown sugar, followed by the golden syrup. Bring to a gentle boil,stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
- Turn the temperature up a bit and boil, stirring occasionally, until you reach the hard crack stage (149 °C/300 °F). Keep a close eye and the syrup will thicken and froth a lot, but you do not want it to burn.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Stir in the white vinegar (careful, it could spit), then quickly stir in the baking of soda. be quick and vigorous and expect the volume to triple in size.
- Pour the yellow frothy toffee into the greased pan and allow to harden for 1h to 1.5h, before breaking into pieces.
Eat the World Recipe Challenge
Check out all the wonderful Irish dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
Amy: Cheesy Potato Soup with Irish Ale
Nicoletta and Loreto: Irish Chocolate Stout Cake
Wendy: Instant Pot Irish Stew with White Cheddar Crust
Camilla: Shamrock Salad-Topped Irish Boxty
Tara: Irish Baked Eggs with Spinach
Karen: Irish Potato Cakes
Sarah: Irish Parsnip Soup
Margaret: Dublin Coddle (an Irish Stew)
Bernice: Potato Cabbage and Rutabaga Colcannon