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Posts Tagged ‘fudge making’

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After eleven attempts, I’ve finally figured out how to make fudge which keeps my family happy.  Unlike the rest of the universe, they don’t want hard, crumbly fudge.  They want soft, silky, melt-in the-mouth fudge, which is firm to touch, but halfway in texture between cream and cake.

The most important thing I’ve learnt is this: fudge making is about gentle handling and calmness, and if you can relax and work peacefully, the whole process will be much easier.  It’s something that really can’t be rushed – the sugar needs to be melted very slowly in order for the crystals to dissolve completely, the mix needs to be boiled over the lowest possible heat, and the beating needs to be done at the minimum setting on your mixer to ensure the fudge candies with the smallest possible crystals (thereby ensuring a smooth texture).

Here is a recipe for a creamy vanilla fudge. It tastes astonishingly like a good vanilla milkshake. The methodology is essentially the same as the chocolate fudge recipe, except that this makes a lesser amount, so you might wish to set it up in a smaller pan.  In my opinion, the key to successful fudge doesn’t lie with the ingredients, but rather with the handling of the candymaking process.  Remember – gently does it.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream (35% fat)
  • 1 Tbsp glucose or corn syrup
  • 45g (1.5oz) unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from half a vanilla pod (optional)

1. Combine the sugar, cream and glucose syrup in a medium sized saucepan. Calmly, over a low heat, stir the mixture  until the sugar is dissolved and the spoon no longer feels like it’s running over grit at the bottom of the pan.  This can take several minutes. Try to dissolve the sugar completely before the mixture boils.

2. With a pastry brush dipped in hot water, brush the insides of the pan to wash down any sugar crystals (if you don’t do this, these crystals can cause the fudge to go grainy later).  Use as little water as you can. When the mixture boils, stop stirring and clamp a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom.

3. Allow the pan to boil without stirring, over a medium-low heat, until the temperature reaches 238F (which is one notch below the “Soft Ball” mark on my thermometer).  This can take up to 10 minutes – you might need to turn the heat up a little bit, but resist the temptation to turn it up too high, or you’ll ruin the fudge. You want to keep the mixture at a rolling boil but with the smallest amount of heat you can get away with. Keep an eye on the pan to make sure it doesn’t boil over.

4. When it reaches 238F, place the pan on a heat proof surface to cool, leaving the thermometer in place. Add the butter, vanilla extract and (optional) vanilla seeds, but do not stir.  Breathe and stay calm.  Get a cup of coffee and unstack the dishwasher while you’re waiting for the fudge to cool.

5. When the temperature reaches 120F, check to see if a slight skin has formed on the mixture, under the melted butter.  If so, scrape the fudge , butter and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer (if not, allow to cool a little longer).  Mix at a very low speed, pausing occasionally, until the fudge “sets up”.  The mixture undergoes a chemical change – it starts off sticky and similar to pulled toffee and seems to do nothing for a while in the mixer, then suddenly, in an instant, it changes – losing its gloss and becoming more granular and dull in colour.  Here are photos of the fudge before and after it has “snapped”, to give you some idea of what I’m talking about.  Interestingly, when the fudge does snap, it also releases heat (as a result of the chemical reaction), so the mix in the bottom photo was quite warm and tacky to touch (as opposed to gooey and sticky, which is how it was prior to mixing).

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6. Tip the fudge into a buttered pan and work it in with your hands.  When it has cooled slightly, score or cut into small pieces.  It can take several hours to set completely.

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