Sitting at work the other day, during a brief moment of calm, I took a scrap of paper and started to plan my Easter baking.
As I sat there I foresaw Easter bunny macarons and a chocolate nest cake filled with mini eggs, there were individual simnel cakes and a pile of creme egg macarons, large chunks of the smoothest fudge and a basket of freshly baked croissants. I imagined I’d happily whizzed that all up in a weekend and my impending accountancy exam certainly didn’t exist.
But unfortunately the exam did and still does exist. Amongst the NPV calculations and extra reading there wasn’t quite room for the entirety of my grand vision. But there was room for some of it. And this bit is definitely worth sharing.
This is the creamiest, smoothest most delicious fudge studded with chocolaty chunks of Easter goodness.
Fudge requires patience to make but is not particularly difficult and the result is oh so worth the time.
If you don’t already have one, this is a great excuse to buy a sugar thermometer. There is a fair bit of sugar chemistry going on in fudge and you need to know where you are to avoid spoiling your attempts. Fudge is made by dissolving sugar into a mixture of milk, cream and butter and boiling it to a certain temperature known as ‘soft ball’ by which point much of the moisture has evaporated off and then cooled slowly before being beaten vigorously into what you recognise as fudge. As the solution slowly cools (this is where the patience comes in) the tiny molecules of sugar will stay just that, tiny, unless you do something to disturb them. The difference between tablet and fudge is the point at which you choose to disturb the mixture and the size of the sugar crystals formed; tablet is stirred straight away and forms large sugar crystals and its grainy texture, whereas fudge is left until it is only just warm before being touched resulting in small sugar crystals and its smooth texture. Sugar crystals, just like most crystals, form rapidly once they find another to copy and so it is important that the sugar is fully dissolved before the mixture comes to the boil and if you find a sugary rings forms on the edge of the pan (normally at the height the mixture boiled up to) try not to mix much of this in when pour the cooled fudge out to beat.
But don’t let me put you off! Yes lots is going on in the pan (and yes I get pretty excited by the chemistry) but all you have to do is watch the thermometer and that’s really not too hard!
This recipe is a slight change from my previous one which used only cream. I spotted Helen using milk over on Great British Chefs and I found that the addition helped with the dissolving of the sugar and gave an ever so slightly firmer fudge. The glucose in the recipe helps guard against unwanted tablet formation but isn’t strictly necessary – I forgot to add it last time and the results were just as delicious.
But before I give you the recipe – a note on beating. Fudge is best beaten by hand with a wooden spoon. But that is a lot of effort and so, if like me you aren’t the hulk (and you don’t have one lurking around the house), use a hand held whisk. Unfortunately I have neither a hulk nor a hand held whisk only a (very well loved) Kenwood chef and this does cause problems. Standalone mixers aren’t great at beating the whole amount of mixture and so my fudge always seems to split. And yes, before you say it, I do have the scraping attachment but the silicon does nothing for my sugar crystals! So what do I do? Well I don’t give in, after all I have just spent twenty minutes carefully bringing my mixture to the boil and another hour waiting for it to cool. So I beat it for a couple of minutes with my beloved machine (any attachment seems to work) and then, when I have a buttery mess before me, I have a quick go at it by hand with my wooden spoon. As if by magic the solid part of what is before me turns dull and fudge like! Yes this glorious sight is still swimming around in butter but at least half of it looks right! So I whack it back on the stand mixer and give it a good whisk, scrapping any deserting butter back in and within seconds (ok maybe twenty) it will have all come back together and you can forget what just happened. And you can now nibble a bit before you move on.
If all of this has got you craving fudge and your thermometer has yet to arrive fear not you can make my super easy chocolate fudge in the meantime 🙂
Makes 24 large chunks or 48 more manageable sized nibbles
Use a 4×6″ pan for the big chunks, or 6×6″ if you want them a little smaller. A 1lb loaf tin would work well. Lined with greaseproof paper.
350g caster sugar
100ml double cream
15g glucose (optional)
60-70g mini eggs (because I have always eaten some from the packet…), crushed. Add all the ingredients, except the mini eggs, to a medium sized pan over a low heat, stirring gently as the butter melts and sugar dissolves.
- Once all the sugar has dissolved remove you spoon and put your thermometer into the pan. Turn the heat up a little (still on a low heat) to bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Do not stir.
- Boil until the thermometer reads 115’C (about ten minutes) and remove the pan from the heat. Do not stir.
- Allow the mixture to cool to 42’C (this will take 1-1.5hrs) before beating vigourously until the shine is lost and you have a dull (but perfectly delicious) fudge. Gently stir in the mini eggs, saving a few to press into the top (stir too much and the chocolate will all melt and the pieces disappear).
- Spoon into your tin and allow to set for at least two hours, best overnight, before cutting into little or large pieces as you fancy. This is best stored in an air tight container, although a little air isn’t a problem, it will just crisp up the corners.