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.
I have not made fudge since I was a child, but I remember going through a ‘phase’ when I was about 10 or 11 of making sweets – from marshmallow to marzipan, toffee to truffles…… and of course, fudge……
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)
655g 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.