When I said I was going to make fudge, most people reacted in the same way. Pursed lips, a sharp intake of breath, slight shake of the head and the words, 'ooh, it's a tricky thing is fudge.' Well. Yes it is, and it's not often that I find the confidence to say it but here we go.... I. Nailed. It.
To be honest, I think the secret with fudge is a good sugar thermometer. I know you're meant to be able to test the 'soft ball' stage by dropping some mixture into a glass of water or something else that sounds ridiculously fiddly, or by timing it properly and watching the bubbles, but screw that - get a thermometer! I've had one in the cupboard for about 3 years after declaring I was going to start making jam and then never bothering, but I've finally broken it out of the plastic case and now there's no stopping me.
This was a test batch of fudge because I wanted to make some as part of my Mother's Day gift. I took the fudge into work as to be honest I knew it would get polished off there regardless of the quality, but I had some really lovely comments from people on it, and a couple asked for the recipe, which I always think is proof it's a good one.
Here is the recipe that I used, which was from the BBC Good Food website.
450g golden caster sugar
400g double cream
1 tbsp glucose syrup
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
Box of Maltesers, bashed slightly with a rolling pin (or your chosen topping)
Line a 20x20cm baking tin with greaseproof paper.
Heat the sugar, cream, butter and glucose syrup into a medium to large saucepan until the sugar is dissolved and the butter melted, stirring occasionally.
Put a sugar thermometer into the pan. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a steady boil. Keep it bubbling and stir occasionally to stop it from sticking to the pan. Do this until the temperature reaches 116c (a.k.a the soft ball stage).
Remove the pan from the heat and leave it to stand until the temperature drops to 110c (should be about 5 minutes). Stir in the vanilla bean paste and a pinch of salt.
Now roll up your sleeves and get beating! Leave the thermometer in the pan and beat the mixture with a wooden spoon quite vigorously (although trust me, that will wane) until the temperature drops to 60c. The fudge should then be quick thick and have lost its glossy shine. Your arms WILL ache but it's totally worth it. Plus, the exercise justifies that extra piece of fudge... I think it took about 10 minutes in total.
Remove the thermometer and continue beating for a few more minutes (I managed about 2).
Apparently, this beating stage is really important as if you don't beat it for long enough, the fudge has more of a grainy texture.
Pour the fudge into the tin and smooth the surface.
Sprinkle your chosen topping over the top - I chose bashed up Maltesers (as if it wasn't already sweet enough!) and leave to cool at room temperature overnight. Cut into bite size pieces and keep in an airtight container - it will keep up to 2 months - but I highly doubt it will stick around that long!
Apologies for the poor quality camera phone pictures in this post! I didn't have my trusty photographer on hand this time!