A corruption of “toffee”, it’s odd that this north-Wales Christmas tradition (sometimes thought to be the origin of nick-naming Welsh people “Taffy” (see here: Why Are the Welsh Called “Taffy”?) has been largely abandoned in Wales considering that taffy remains so popular in the USA. “Noson Gyflaith” took place during the later hours of Christmas Eve, and involved pouring out the taffy directly onto the hearth stone, or onto a well-buttered dish. Party members, with well-buttered hands, could then “pull” the taffy, twisting and stretching it into long cords before it cooled and went solid. If you wanted to show off, you could twist it into fancy shapes, or make little animals and flowers with them.
The practice also existed in south Wales, but not as a Christmas tradition. Known as taffi or dant, it was often sold to children in six-inch strips for a penny. The recipe was a simple one:
2 lbs sugar
2 lbs black treacle (molasses)
2 lbs golden syrup (corn syrup)
1 lb butter
The ingredients were melted and then boiled rapidly for about twenty minutes. It was done when a dribble into icy water turned hard immediately without clouding the water. It was said that, if the sample resembled a letter, it was the initial of somebody’s future lover.
Then cover your hands with a thick layer of butter, as if you were making a popcorn ball. Pour the taffy out, and you have a few seconds to risk severe burns while you twist and stretch the taffy until it turns golden yellow. Enjoy!