This week I have mostly been making vast quantities of fudge – Enough fudge to feed 100 people to be exact! Why you ask. Well this weekend is the wedding of J’s sister, for which I have been asked to make the wedding favours for. When I was originally asked to make their favours for them, while I was delighted to be asked, I was very much on the apprehensive side of the fence. Fudge for one hundred people! I’ve only made it twice before was the general reaction. However once I’d got organised and got it into perspective I’ve found I’ve really enjoyed doing it. Fudge is really quite a therapeutic thing to make – and once you get your head around the rules and what your doing it’s also pretty easy!
I experimented a fair bit it the beginning of this project to find the perfect recipe, knowing I wanted a fairly firm textured fudge with a good pronounced vanilla flavour. I also didn’t want it to be as tooth achingly sweet as some fudges you get. Now J isn’t a fan of fudge I think because so often it can be way too sweet but I think I’m bringing him round through a combination of force feeding and multiple taste tests! In fact I’ve caught him on several occasions in the last few days munching away on the offcuts in the fridge when he thinks I’m not looking, so it must be good!
Although this fudge isn’t difficult there are a few basic things I’ve found which need to be followed in order for the recipe to work well and get the best results possible.
1. Set aside plenty of time – This recipe will require your full attention for a good hour. It cannot be rushed – If you rush it you will ruin the fudge Fact! While you don’t necessarily need to be doing a lot for a lot of the time your making it, you do just need to watch it like a hawk. Get distracted by something (ahem Facebook!) or take your eyes of it and it will burn in a minute. In fact I’m pretty certain it has sensors which tell it when your not looking at just so it has an excuse to burn! You need a bit of patience for this one.
2. Use a big pan! (non-stick!) – It may not look like much when you put it in the pan but it will at least double in size as it cooks. Scrubbing fudge off your hob isn’t much fun!
3. Work that pastry brush! – Have a pastry brush and cup of water standing ready and keeping brushing down the sides of the pan if you get any little dots or splashes building up as it’s cooking. If you don’t you end up with little burnt crusty bits that will end up in your finished fudge.
4. Beat the mixture by hand to finish it – Use a big, long handled wooden spoon throughout the process. Once it reaches temperature you will need to beat it, by hand, for at least ten minutes to encourage crystallization. Ten minutes, believe me is quite a long time when your hand beating something but just think of it as your pre-fudge workout that entitles you to eat at least half of it!
900g Granulated Sugar
115g Butter – Melted
120 ml Double Cream
120 ml Milk
396g (1 Can) Condensed Milk
2 Tbsp Vanilla Bean Paste
Grease and line a 12″ by 9″ baking tin. You will need a sugar thermometer and a long handled wooden spoon
Put the sugar, melted butted, cream and milk in a LARGE heavy bottomed saucepan. Put on a medium – low heat and stir continuously without allowing to boil for 10 minutes (Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat at any point! It will burn). After this time run the back of a spoon through the mixture then rub a little between your fingers – if you can feel any sugar crystals at all the mixture needs heating for longer.
Once all the sugar crystals have dissolved allow the mixture to boil then stir in the condensed milk and bring back up the boil. At this point set your wooden spoon aside as you won’t need to stir as much at this stage. Put your sugar thermometer into the mixture and continue cooking on a medium-low heat. Stir occasionally round the edges and the bottom of the pan to check the mixture is caramelizing evenly – the colour of the mixture should start to change from light blonde to a more caramelly colour.
You want to bring the mixture to 240F (Soft Ball Stage) – Stir every so often until it reaches 240F – which will take about 20 minutes. Once it does take of the heat (removing the thermometer) and add the vanilla bean paste. Now get beating!
You are looking for the mixture to go from a double cream type consistency to a slightly thicker mixture which will cling more to it’s self. It should loose it’s shine and if you look closely as your stirring it should have a slight gritty texture to it, this should take a good 10-12 minutes. Once this stage is reached pour the mixture into the prepared tin and spread evenly with the back of a spoon. Pat down with your hands to smooth and bang on the worktop a couple of times to remove any bubbles. Set aside to cool then put in fridge for a few hours before turning out and cutting into pieces.
A Big Congratulations To The New Mr and Mrs Cahill! I Hope You Enjoyed Your Big Day And Wishing You A Wonderful Future Together!