as sweet as fudge

I called a dear friend "as sweet as fudge". And then it dawned on me that I hadn't yet shared my classic fudge recipe with you.  Now I know some will say add baileys, turkish delight, apple pie, peanut butter and the like. Each to his or her own, of course. But you know what I'm going to say next, before I even say it ... shouldn't fudge taste like creamy succulent squares of caramelised sugar? NOT cherries, bubblegum, rum or nuts. In the recipe book of my dreams, that isn't classic fudge.

Occasionally I'll admit to adding 60grams of dark eating choc or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod to a batch, but that's that. It's like a coffee pod infused with choc orange or vanilla cherry. Give us our coffee tasting like freshly ground coffee please and the old fashioned sweet treats our grandma made, just the way she used to make them. 

Classic Fudge

Ingredients  395gram tin of condensed milk ❤ 150 ml full cream milk ❤ 450 grams sugar, I use demerara sugar (explained below) ❤ 115 grams unsalted butter, chopped

Equipment: a candy thermometer is a must, otherwise its pretty tough getting temperature bang on & a shallow tin (30x20cm, 15cm square or whatever you'd got). Gas is best, but not up the sides.

Method   Grease tin with butter & line with baking paper, extend paper 5cm over the tin sides.

Put all the ingredients into a non-stick large saucepan and heat gently. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the sugar has dissolved well, without boiling.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered for about 10 minutes until syrup reaches exactly 116 deg celsius (240F) on your candy thermometer.  Place thermo in hot water before placing right down into the syrup, resting on the pan side for convenient reading. Don't touch thermo until degree reached. Only ever take the temperature to 116 'soft ball' stage for fudge. Then remove the pan from heat immediately. Carefully, without shaking it.

If adding choc or vanilla, do it now before beating. It's how you treat your fudge from now on that affects its texture. If you allow it to cool and crystallise first before beating (when lukewarm) your fudge will be smoother in texture. The old fashioned way. For firmer, more granular fudge beat vigorously by hand while still hot. Purely personal choice.

Beat by hand (not electric mixer) with a wooden spoon for about 10 minutes until thick & shine taken off. A small amount when dropped from a spoon should hold its shape.  Don't attempt fudge on a muggy day like today in QLD, unless you've got the house closed up with the aircon on. Sugar boiling is affected by atmosphere. A clear & dry day is safest for great results.

Pour the fudge mixture into the tin quickly. Cover with tin foil and stand.  If you wish to cut into small pieces before it hardens, wait about 15mins before using a sharp knife to score the surface into squares without cutting all the way through.  Then cut into neat squares and remove from the tin when set, about 3 hours depending on the climate.

This recipe makes approx 750g of fudge.  I like to cut my squares again, on the diagonal, cause a little bit of fudge goes such a long way. And fits on the saucer next to tea or coffee perfectly.  If storing, pop in an airtight container in wax paper for up to a month.

Sugar tips: White sugar is easiest to caramelise as you can easily watch the colour turn from pale gold to dark brown. For extra flavour, brown sugar works well in fudge. I substitute with a ½ cup of light brown sugar when making chocolate fudge for a more pronounced taste. Why use demerara sugar in this recipe?  The large crystals of raw cane sugar add extra sweetness and texture. White caster sugar works well and dissolves quickest. Keep the side of the pan free from sugar grains with a pastry brush or pop lid on for a minute or two to let steam wash the pan sides clear.

I'm sure many of you have a family fudge recipe & flavour you wouldn't stray from. In that case please ignore my fudge ramblings & share with us. Enjoy your day sweet MFK friends.