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An Introduction to Fudge:
My mother really didn’t like cooking. She managed as an Army wife, but when we moved to a small seaside town, she was told by the local ladies that the Doctor’s Wife was Expected. Expected to entertain, to cook, to ensure that there were annual drinks parties for the important patients(!) and to cater for the local tennis tournament. Mum was rather competitive and she NEVER would have accepted that Mrs Munro, the previous Doctor’s Wife, could have done better.
At the start of the Christmas holiday we had the annual drinks party. We children were dressed in our best outfits. White socks, startright shoes (NOT patent, because they were vulgar) and a smocked liberty dress for me. Kilts and white shirts for my brothers until they got old enough to object. We were enlisted as mini waiters, to hand round food and drinks and to smile politely. We had canapes and sherry. Gin and tonic. Whisky for the traditionalists. And, my mother hated it.
After that Christmas proper started and we began what can only be described as a food fest. Fudge was something that we ONLY made at Christmas, along with truffles and turkish delight, florentines and various other experiments at sweet making. It was messy, delicious time of year and the home made sweets were always eaten in preference to the large tin of Quality Street (though we’d try our best to steal the chocolate liquers without being spotted). My mother’s favourite was coffee walnut fudge. But, I don’t have her recipe and I DO want to make some. I thought the best ‘first attempt’ would be to make a simple vanilla fudge. And I have some fabulous quality vanilla essence from a workshop with Nielsen Massey a few weeks ago. I know my mother didn’t use carnation milk, so I haven’t, though you will find a lot of recipes that do. This is my practise run and dip back into memories of childhood. I’m pleased to say I think I remember most of how to do it.
So here’s the basic fudge recipe. I don’t own a sugar thermometer and nor did my mother, so I learnt to make fudge by eye. I’ve included photos to give you an idea of what you should be looking for.
- 300 ml Milk
- 350 g Caster Sugar
- 100 g Unsalted Butter
- 15 ml Vanilla Essence make sure you use a good quality real vanilla essence like Neilsen Massey
- Melt the butter and stir in the sugar and milk over a gentle heat iIn a VERY large pan. It will bubble up a lot so you really do need the largest pan you have!
- Continue stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved
- Bring the mix to the boil. It will rise right up, like boiling milk
- Stir the mix and keep watching while it bubbles away. Eventually it will start to subside. Keep stirring and watching
- Once the mix is slightly caramelised and thickened, and catches on the edge of the pan as you stir, take it off the heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes
- Add the vanilla essence and then beat as hard as you can. Eventually it will become quite stiff and sugary. At this point tip it into a pre-prepared baking tray and smooth over as best you can. Mark out squares with a knife
- Allow to cool before removing the pieces of fudge and storing in an airtight container till needed.
My next stage is to try adding more ingredients to make a flavoured fudge – or maybe two! I find home-made fudge quite addictive and I eat far too much. But, meanwhile, I need to find someone who’d like this batch of vanilla fudge!