Oh. Hello. Can I help you?
You want to learn to MAKE this stuff? And you want me to teach you?
Sorry. Can’t. I’m too busy cramming it in my face.
Come back later.
I’ve wanted to teach myself to make fudge for an age and a half. Fudge is one of my favourite things, especially the simple traditional ones. Butter and Maple fudge? I could eat those forever. And whenever I can get my hands on them and the Pie is out for the evening, I frequently do. I pay for it, oh yes, I pay for it. But it’s totally worth it.
This year my New Year’s Resolution was to learn to make fudge. That and eat more vegetables. I never thought vegetables would be a problem for me. But of course that was before I moved to Newfoundland. Anyway. Fudge. Resolution for fudge.
So last week I decided that enough was enough. It was time. Plus I keep trying to think of luscious dessert-y-type objects that also happen to be gluten-free so that I can bribe Fussellette to drive me places. I figure it’s a win-win situation for all concerned.
In searching for crumbly oh-so-melt-in-your-mouth fudge recipes on the internet, I came to the realization that the stuff I am thinking of is also known simply as TABLET, a traditional Scottish bon-bon. I wish I had known this sooner. Finding a good recipe would have been quicker, and every time I passed a package of tablet in the specialty store I would have purchased it. So perhaps it’s a good thing I didn’t find this out sooner.
Enough with my blathering. I found this recipe by Stewart C. Russell and it seems to be the best, mostly for the clear instructions. And if I’m going to experiment and things are going to go horribly, spectacularly wrong, I want it to count. So I doubled the recipe and modified things a bit. I’ll give you my version here, and if you don’t like the craziness of it you can go back to Stewart and do his recipe the right way.
You will only need four ingredients for this, but you need a lot of most of them:
1 cup cold milk (this is for dampening down your sugar. The measurement is approximate.)
200g butter (I used salted instead of unsalted, because I like my fudge a little less than sickly sweet. This measurement is slightly less than the 1lb [454g] block you get in the stores.)
3, 300g tins sweetened condensed milk (Stewart’s recipe calls for a 400g tin, which doesn’t seem to exist around these parts, so this is the reason I doubled the recipe. In the end I had 100g more milk than the math called for but I don’t think it did any harm.)
2kg brown sugar (you can use white here for a lighter fudge, but this is what I had around)
First thing: generously butter two rimmed baking sheets. I mean GENEROUSLY. And you will need these ready to go before you do anything else, because when you need them you will have no time to spare. Put them somewhere handy, on a heatproof surface.
Take out your largest saucepan (this stuff foams up quite a bit). And a big wooden spoon (you always make candy with wooden spoons). I also recommend using a candy thermometer. We’re going to do some other tests here but if you want surefire accuracy I would use one as well as a fail-safe.
Plop the sugar in that there saucepan and pour on the milk. Give that a wee stir.
Add in your butter and your condensed milk. Take a dobble of that and put it on a plate. Admire the grainy texture and pale colour. You are going to have quite the colour chart on this plate by the end.
Heat the stuff in the saucepan on medium-high, stirring, until the butter is melted and everything is starting to get smooth.
Bring the mixture to a boil.
Turn it down to a simmer (this will depend on the thickness of your pot, the amount you have in it, and the temperature of your element). You’re going to simmer it for a while, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking. It’s gonna get foamy and scary.
You’re waiting for the “soft ball” stage in candy making, which is when your thermometer hits 240°F. If you’re simmering and you can’t get the sugar to increase in temperature, try turning up the heat a little bit at a time until you see a difference. Just make sure not to burn it!
While you’re waiting, keep testing out your liquid on your plate. Dobble some on and let it cool. Watch it darken in colour and smooth out in consistency. On this one the latest dobble, the one at the far right, is exhibiting some caramel tendencies, as it’s starting to stretch out when I pull it. That means we’re almost there.
Another way to test is to take a teaspoon-full of your sugar mix and plunge it into a small amount of cold water for a second or two. Then tip the spoon and watch the sugar pour off the spoon. Here it’s coming off in a smooth string, so it’s not ready.
Still too stringy here.
Ah. Here we have a SOFT BALL coming off the spoon. It’s ready.
Remove the pan from the heat and start stirring it vigorously with your wooden spoon. Not so vigorously that you splash yourself with molten sugar, but put some energy into it.
Pause occasionally to scrape the crystallized sugar off the sides of the pot. These crystals will help to seed other crystals in the mix, which is what we want.
When you start to feel the grate of crystals on the bottom (when scraping your spoon down there feels a little gritty), then your fudge is starting to set.
Quickly pour the contents of the saucepan onto the baking sheets. Use a spatula to get it all.
You can see how it started to set as I was pouring because I took too long. As a result, I have fudge with lumps.
Leave the stuff to set overnight, if you can stand it, or at least until they’ve cooled completely. Those light blotches you see are just crystallizing sugar, which is a good thing.
Look how nicely it just pops out of the pan!
Use a long flat knife to cut or break your set fudge into pieces. When you are cutting it, press down on the whole length of the blade at once. If you go in at an angle the fudge will crack along a different line.
Of course, then you get reject pieces, which is what I’ve been eating.
I recommend cutting your fudge into smallish pieces. Otherwise you might eat too much. Oh who are we kidding? You (or someone you know and love) are (is) going to eat too much anyway.
Store in an airtight container. Or mail pieces to all your friends.
I think I’d like to try this again with granulated sugar, as opposed to brown. I think the molasses in the brown sugar, together with the extended simmering time I had to get the sugar up to the right temperature, made for a firmer fudge than the super crumbly stuff I really love.
CLEANING TIP: If you fill your empty saucepan with hot water right away and leave it for a bit, then cleanup will be a breeze.