How much do I love thee reader? A lot apparently, making 3 batches of fudge, in order to find a good, reliable recipe that anyone, anytime could produce. After writing about the delicious Crème Brûlée fudge we had in Arrowtown, New Zealand, I had readers asking for a recipe and I was also curious to have some for myself. What I didn't realise is that the sugary stuff is more temperamental than a macaron. I think I'm a moderately skilled cook but when my first two batches failed I started to get despondent, then angry. I'm sure that alongside 7 stages of grief, there are 7 stages to fudge failure and I can really understand why the word "Fudge!!" is uttered as an expletive to some. Apparently, the weather can affect fudge making and canny experienced fudge makers will not bother to make it if the weather is humid or rainy. And even then there's no guarantee that it will work. And I am living proof. I even bought myself a sugar thermometer to aid me in my pursuit of Creme Brulee fudge.
"Patience dear" is an oft repeated phrase around me. I am the most impatient person that I know. For me, it has to happen right now, then then and right there. I often have the Veruca Salt song "I Want It Now" ringing in my ears. One thing that forces patience on me is fudge making. Waiting until all of the sugar has dissolved on a low heat to stirring it constantly instead of running off to check your computer, the waiting for the soft ball stage to materialise-all things that requires a measure of patience that I don't seem to have.
1st lot, delicious but unset
Like Goldilocks (or should I call myself Ravenlocks?), my first batch wasn't right. With orders to test for soft ball using iced water (which I did, much like when I did it for the marshmallow) and orders to beat it straight away from Nigella the whole thing turned out grainy due to the partial crystallisation of the sugar when I stirred it during the crucial cooling process and it didn't set properly due to the humid weather although I have to admit, flavour-wise, it tasted great.
My second lot once I bought the sugar thermometer was creamier, due to waiting for the temperature to drop to 40C which took 1.5 hours. It also didn't set. And I know people will say that it's because I didn't reach the soft ball stage but I disagree, I did as I watched the thermometer like a hawk. This fudge however was gorgeously creamy and ungrainy so had it set, it would have been perfection.
Gathering myself together I came across a food proof, weather proof and method proof recipe for fudge which involved using marshmallows. It's easier and quicker and miraculously set pretty much straight away, Even better was that it had a gorgeous creaminess. Flavour-wise I do think I preferred the first two but only by a small amount. The relative ease and reliability of this recipe means that it's the winner for me.
I've also given you the recipe for the other two fudges should you wish to try them. Perhaps given the right weather where you are and a certain planetary alignment and your astrological moon in the correct position, it may set for you (just consider yourself warned ;) ). In any case, bruleeing the stuff is easy, in fact I don't know why it isn't done more often. Just sprinkle with a little sugar (fudge contains enough of the stuff anyway so only a bit is needed) and blowtorch to you heart's content, being careful not to set the paper or oiled foil on fire. It's not exactly like the Remarkable Sweet Shop stuff in Arrowtown, New Zealand but it's fabulously good and will win friends and influence people.
Fudge 1 Grainy fudge
4 tablespoons water
125 g butter
3 cups caster sugar
2 tablespoons golden or corn syrup
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Step 1 - Butter a loaf tin and line with parchment paper and butter parchment paper. Place the water, butter, caster sugar and golden or corn syrup into a heavy-based saucepan and stir over low heat until all the sugar has fully dissolved. Brush down the sides of the pan with cold water to get rid of any stray sugar crystals. Add the condensed milk, bring to the boil on just under medium heat and cook, stirring continuously, for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture reaches a temperature of 283F/118°C on a sugar thermometer.
Step 2 - Remove the pan from the heat and set aside for half an hour*. Stir in the vanilla extract and beat with a wooden spoon until the texture is thick and creamy and a thick ribbon holds when you lift the spoon.
Step 3 - Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and cool at room temperature (this may take a few hours). Cut into squares once fully set and store in an airtight tin, wrapped with waxed paper or baking paper. The fudge will keep for up to four weeks.
*Wait for 1.5 hours until it reaches 40C /110F and then beat, this will result in a less grainy fudge
Fudge 2: Creamy Fudge
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup milk
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons vanilla
Step 1 - Butter sides of heavy 2 quart saucepan and butter and line a loaf tin with parchment and then butter the parchment paper.
Step 2 - In saucepan combine sugar, 2 milks and salt. On low heat stir to dissolve the sugar. Place sugar thermometer in pan and turn to just under medium. Boil whilst stirring constantly to reach the soft ballstage of 238F/118°C (ensure that it gets there).
With butter and vanilla added, fudge mixture cooling
Step 3 - Remove pan from heat, add butter and vanilla, do not stir at all. Leave untouched for 1.5 hours or so until the temperature shows 110F/40C.
Step 4 - Beta with an electric mixer until it thickens and loses its gloss. Pour into a loaf tin and wait to set.
Fudge 3: Dreamy, creamy and reliable White Chocolate Fudge
150ml evaporated milk
55grams of butter
2 cups of sugar
200g white marshmallows
350g white chocolate chips
Step 1 - Line a loaf tin with foil and using a pastry brush, brush a flavourless oil (eg rice bran, grapeseed or a mild olive oil) on the base and sides of the foil. In a large heavy based saucepan on low heat, dissolve sugar with milk and butter. Clip the sugar thermometer to the pan Increase heat to just below medium. Whilst stirring wait until the mixture reaches 238F/118°C (soft ball stage). Be patient, it takes about 10 minutes and the thermometer will sit on 220-230 for what seems like forever. You may get little caramelised bits floating to the top. Knock back the heat a little if there are too many.
Step 2 - Remove from heat and immediately stir in chocolate chips and marshmallows. Stir with wooden spoon to smooth out mixture. Immediately place in prepared tin (it sets relatively quickly).
Step 3 - While still in tin but set, sprinkle some sugar on top and blowtorch. Cut into squares when completely set using a lightly oiled knife.