Extremely sweet, creamy, almost always cut into cubes? Must be fudge...............
A good fudge should be rich and have a depth of flavour that off-sets the sugary sweetness. It should melt in the mouth and be smooth and silky. And it should be rich and luxurious and not feel too sickly.
My mother bought me a special cook book dedicated to the art of sweet-making and all the required paraphernalia (fondant mats, sweet thermometer, moulds, etc), always ensuring supervision of anything that required high temperature stove work.
Looking in my fridge the other day, I was confronted by a load of cream which needed using, and perhaps unexpectedly, I thought of fudge. I still have that book I was given as a child (although I haven't made anything from it for about 30 years), so I pulled it from the shelf and thumbed through its yellowing pages.
To be honest, I was actually quite disappointed! Everything seemed very '70's' - very sugary, using very basic ingredients and endlessly coloured pink or green. I wanted a fudge that was decadent and up to date, but simple.
My daughter (who often gets the last word on these things) specified 'vanilla' and despite my suggesting a number of additions and extra flavours, she stood her ground and made it quite clear that nothing else would do. Since she was likely to end up eating quite a lot of it, I gave in with thoughts that 'next time' I would aim for something a bit different.
Given that my main criteria was to use up an excess of cream and without a suitable book recipe, I turned to the trusty Internet and went on a fudge search. This is what I found........... A recipe by Nick Dudley-Jones which people seemed to be raving about. It looked reasonably straight forward, contained cream, was flavoured with vanilla................. sounded perfect!
I think what appealed to me most was that the recipe appeared full of professional wisdom. It is made differently to other fudge recipes that I came across in that it is beaten as it cools, to give it a really smooth texture. But be warned................you need patience and strong arm muscles..... This fudge needed a lot of stirring.
I have decorated my efforts with a combination of nuts to give a fantastic alternative texture, freeze-dried cherry powder (which nicely off-sets the vanilla) and glittery sugars and chocolate curls.
The end result though was definitely worth stirring for. I am not usually a big fudge fan, but this one feels quite 'grown up' and strangely (despite the high sugar content) doesn't give an 'over-sweet' experience. One piece and I was hooked.............. Did I say my daughter would eat most of it? Wrong! I have been guiltily dipping my hand in and out of that storage box ever since............
Vanilla Fudge (from a recipe by Nick Dudley-Jones)
Ingredients655g caster sugar
500 ml double cream
50g unsalted butter
handful of chopped white chocolate
1 teaspoon glucose (I used liquid glucose)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
sprinkles/nuts/fruit powders/chocolate decorations as desired
- Base-line an 8 to 9 inch loose-bottomed square baking tin with baking paper.
- Put all the ingredients (except the white chocolate) in a large heavy based saucepan and stir thoroughly.
- Heat the ingredients on a low heat and stir until the ingredients are fully combined, the butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves into a completely smooth liquid. Do NOT allow the liquid to come to the boil at this stage. The liquid should be creamy, buttery and golden.
- Once the liquid stage has been reached, increase the temperature to medium-high and bring the liquid to the boil, stirring constantly. Do not stop stirring, or you will burn the mixture.
- Allow to boil rapidly, stirring until the liquid reaches 112-115⁰ C / 234-240⁰ F (Soft Ball). Use a sugar thermometer to judge this accurately.
- Once the critical temperature is reached, continue to gently boil for a few minutes, but ensure the temperature does not rise above the soft ball limit. The mixture should be the consistency of runny honey - smooth but thick.
- At this stage, remove from the heat and continue to stir until the boil has subsided.
- Cool very slightly and then pour into a mixer or large heat-proof bowl and beat. The fudge should be allowed to cool whilst beating (for about 10 to 15 minutes).
- After about 5 minutes of beating, throw in a handful of white chocolate and continue to beat for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
- Before the fudge becomes too firm, stop mixing and spoon into the prepared tin. Smooth the surface with a palate knife or spatula until even.
- Sprinkle with toppings if using.
- Leave to cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 6 hours to allow to completely set before removing form the tin and cutting into pieces.
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated