Sunday, 8 January 2012

Fudge

I'm back! Did you miss me?

Sorry about the 3 month hiatus. Please forgive me. I have a good excuse. 

For the past few months I have been mainly cooking food intended for the Christmas hampers that I gave to my family and friends this year. And if I'd blogged about what I was making, I would have spoiled the surprise for everyone!

See? Good excuse. And some good recipes to come... now that the hampers have been opened.

Frankly, we just couldn't face the whole Christmas shopping thing this year. Unless you're very organised (which I'm not) it's deeply stressful and unhappy-making. I wanted to take the stress out of our holiday period, and the best stress-buster for me is cooking. Nothing can replace the feeling of calm satisfaction I get from my kitchen, whether I'm baking an elaborate cake or just whipping up a quick snack; my kitchen is where I chill. So we dubbed this one a "Homemade Christmas" and went whole hog. I'm talking full-on, bazzed-out Christmas hampers for all of our family. Jams, jellies, candy, cookies, chutney, the lot. I basically thought: 'If I received a hamper for Christmas, what would I want to find in it?' and that's exactly what I made. 

It was really fun putting these babies together. I love getting handmade gifts, and love making them even more. Over the next few weeks I'll write up some of the best recipes and post them. 

This fudge was definitely a highlight. I'd never made fudge before and was delighted to find it's pretty easy. I fudged (ho ho) together several recipes and ended up with, I think, an amazingly smooth and very more-ish fudge. It's very easy to make. Only four ingredients and a bit of stirring. And who doesn't like a bit of old school condensed milk action?? 


Fudge

125ml whole milk
400g soft brown sugar
400g can Condensed Milk
100g butter (I used slightly salted - the better the quality, the richer the fudge)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
Flavourings - nuts, fruit, chocolate, whatever you want

In a wide, heavy bottomed pan dissolve the milk, butter, sugar and vanilla over a gentle heat. It's important to keep the mixture moving all the time so that the sugar doesn't catch. Stir gently and constantly. When totally dissolved (you can no longer feel the grains scraping under the spoon) increase the heat and boil for 8-10 minutes, stirring all the time. It needs to look like thick bubbling lava. 

To test readiness, drop a tsp of mixture into a cup of iced water and after a minute it will have hardened into a pliable ball. If the mixture stays runny in the iced water, boil for another 2 minutes and test again.

Remove from heat and beat (stir hard) for 6-8 minutes, or until it has thickened up and turned matte. 

At this point you can mix in whatever you want. I added chopped glace cherries and pistachio nuts to one batch before smoothing it into a greaseproof paper lined tin. The other batch I smoothed into the tin, then pressed a layer of finely chopped almonds into the top. You could pour melted chocolate on top or swirl it into the mix to get a marbled fudge. Get creative. 

Allow to set for a few hours then chop into bite-sized chunks. Will last at least a month if kept in airtight container.





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