Sunday, 27 November 2011

Vanilla Fudge, Fudge baby...

Behold, an afternoon's work! My first attempt at making fudge. And before you say "They look pretty good", let me tell you, hours of blood (not literally) sweat (yes) and tears (almost) went into this small selection of confectionery you see before you. Hours of boiling, beating, re-boiling, re-beating, re-boiling and re-beating for a third time, swearing, and feelings of abject failure accompanied this endeavor. "Was it worth it?" I hear you ask (I have pretty good hearing). I can say without a doubt, YES!!! This fudge is amazing and you should make it as soon as possible. However, to avoid the pitfalls I encountered, I have included my own notes along with the original recipe below. What are you waiting for? The serious possibility of total disaster awaits you...

Vanilla Fudge
(Recipe taken from James Martin of the Good Food Channel)

300 ml milk
350 grams caster sugar
100 grams butter
1 tsp vanilla essence

1. Put the milk, sugar and butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring all the time, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted. 

2. Bring to the boil and boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring all the time keep the mixture boiling furiously until it changes colour from pale yellow to a golden caramel colour and reduces by half. Only stir occasionally with a wooden spoon, to loosen the mixture from the sides and base of the pan. 

3. When the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (115°C on a sugar thermometer*), remove from the heat. *Important note: if, like me, you do not have a themometer, you can test the "soft ball stage" as follows: Take a glass of cold water with an ice-cube in it. Dip a spoon in the fudge mixture and drop a little of it into the icy cold water. If it disperses like liquid, it is not ready. If it drops into the water and creates a soft ball, it is ready for the next step.

4. Stir in the vanilla extract. Leave to cool for 5 minutes. 

5. Beat the mixture with a spoon for a few minutes until it starts to thicken and the gloss disappears. It is vital at this stage that your mixture has changed colour, reduced by half, and cooled a little so you don't burn yourself while beating. Beat with a wooden spoon, the same way that you would cream butter and sugar together. Do not use an electronic blender or whisk (in case you are as silly as me, and think it might speed up the process - it won't). Continue to beat until the mixture starts to come away from the sides of the bowl, and stiffens up.

6. Pour into the prepared tin and leave to set at room temperature (do not put it in the fridge). 

7. Once set, cut the fudge into small squares and store in a sealed container. eat directly out of the baking tray until you have a sugar headache.

This mixture will make 16 1.5 inch pieces of delicious fudge, or twice as much as in the photo above (half of the fudge mysteriously disappeared before I could get my camera ready...)

Now that I have learnt the secrets of fudge making, I can't wait to try it again.Next time I might replace half the caster sugar with dark brown sugar for a richer flavour. Or add some cocoa to make chocolate fudge. Or clotted cream, walnuts, maple syrup, pecans, the possibilities are endless!

What's your favorite flavour?

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