Edinburgh Castle Rock
Edinburgh is famous for many things, the Castle, the Military Tattoo and of course Edinburgh Rock. I am not talking about the extinct volcano that serves as a foundation to the castle, rather the addictive sugary candy that virtually every tourist to the city takes home with them.
Edinburgh Rock was the invention of confectioner Alexander Ferguson, fondly known as “Sweetie Sandy”. In his younger years, Alexander’s passion was to make sweets in his parents outhouse. His father seeing no future in this eventually forced him to take up the trade of joiner and carpenter. Alexander wasn’t interested and left the family home in Doune to work for a Glasgow confectioner. Later he moved to Edinburgh and established his own confectionary business in Melbourne Place.
The recipe for Edinburgh Rock, and consequently Fergusons considerable fortune, came about by accident rather than design. One fateful day he discovered some sweets that had lain forgotten for months. Time and the warm atmosphere of the sweet factory had altered the texture of the sweets. On tasting them he was taken with the texture and quickly set about creating a recipe to replicate it.
The light crunch and melt in the mouth flavor was a phenomenal success with his patrons and Edinburgh Rock was born.
Edinburgh Rock Recipe:
- 1 lb (450g) Sugar
- Quarter Pint (150ml) Water
- Quarter tsp (1.5ml) Cream of Tartar
- Peppermint Essence
- Lemon Essence
- Yellow Food Coloring
- Green Food Coloring
- Mix the sugar and water in a large pan and gently warm over very low heat.
- Constantly stir to prevent the sugar from settling at the bottom of the pan.
- When the sugar is completely dissolved, add the cream of tartar and bring to the boil.
- When the liquid boils, remove from the heat and skim well.
- Return to the heat and boil to 126C/259F degrees. (For best results use a candy thermometer.)
- Remove from the heat and split the mixture evenly between two pans taking great care not to burn yourself with the boiling sugar.
- To one pan add enough coloring to turn the mixture light green and add the Peppermint Essence.
- To the other pan add the yellow coloring to make a light shade of yellow and add the Lemmon Essence.
- Lightly grease two shallow baking trays and pour each mixture into a tray.
- Allow to cool slightly and using a greased pallet knife turn the edges in towards the center. Do not stir.
- Repeat the last step until the mixture is cool enough to safely handle.
- Stretch the mixture out on the baking tray and again fold the corners into the center. Repeat until the mixture cools and stiffens. (If the candy is not pulled sufficiently, it will remain sticky rather than 'short'.
- Roll the mixture into a sausage shape about half an inch thick.
- Cut into mouth sized pieces.
- Place all the pieces on non-stick baking paper.
- Leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
More Traditional Scottish Recipes
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- Cock-A-Leekie Soup: A hearty soup often served at Burns Night suppers
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- Lorne Sausage: How To Make Lorne Square Slice Sausage
- Tattie Scones: A Traditional Scottish Potato Scone Recipe
Shaun from Neuburg Germany on March 13, 2018:
Tried it and failed. Pulled and pulled and pulled but it still ended up sticky. It was to throw out in the end. Really disappointed was looking Forward to it.
mavericksmom01 on May 09, 2013:
Peter, thanks for the recipe and background story. I am the daughter of an Edinburgh native - and remember always receiving lots of "rock" anytime relatives visited my dad in the U.S. In my adult years I have spent a small fortune importing the candy for my family - if only I had found out sooner how straightforward the recipe was. Will be attempting it tonight's wish me luck.
stessily on February 15, 2012:
Peter Hoggan, Fascinating history but this statement made me cringe a little: "In his younger years, Alexander’s passion was to make sweets in his parents outhouse." Yikes: outhouse!
Edinburgh Rocks sound tempting, especially with the lemon and peppermint essences.
I'm not sweet on sweets, but I look forward to sampling these sweets one day.
Well presented and interesting.
Derdriu on January 27, 2012:
Peter Hoggan, It's so interesting to read the history behind such an exquisite dessert. Edinburgh Rock provides such a unique taste experience what with "Sweetie Sandy's" clever combination of cream of tartar, lemon and peppermint! Additionally, I love your choice of opening photo which looks (and undoubtedly tastes) like more.
Thank you for sharing, voted up + all,
Arlene V. Poma on January 17, 2012:
A recipe to make my dentist richer and happier. I enjoy the story and the recipe because I never heard of Endinburgh Rock Candy. The people I know who travel to Scotland are spinners and weavers. They travel there, take tours of the fiber factories, and bring home anything related to spinning or weaving. No candy for me. Voted up and everything else.
Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on January 17, 2012:
I remember as a child my grandmother would go home to Scotland and when she'd return she would bring rock candy back with her. I'm not sure if it was this exact type but I do remember the candy.