This weekend I stopped in at the new city market and did some browsing. With less than $5 cash in my wallet, all I was looking for was an avocado.
They didn’t have any avocados at either the regular or organic garden fruit and vegetable kiosks but they DID have a kiosk with Dutch apple pies etc and one with raw chocolate and fudges. It was early and there weren’t a lot of customers there yet so I struck up a conversation with the owner of the fudge stand. Even though I ‘hinted’ that I wasn’t in a position to buy on THIS visit, she offered to let me try her samples. I stuck with two, chocolate chili and chocolate cherry. They were ok, but honestly, I’ve had and even made better. I didn’t ask the price per pound/kg but it wasn’t cheap … $8 for the pre-cut and wrapped blocks which I estimate weighed ~150 gm.
In any case, I got a fudge craving so after a Saturday of watching the dough I had made with a new pineapple sourdough starter not rising, I dug out my recipe for vanilla fudge and made a batch. I haven’t made fudge for over three years, so I was a bit nervous about the process.
One thing you NEED when making fudge is an accurate candy thermometer. Mine claims water boils at 87 deg C/188.6 deg F so I use the soft ball test. I may have jumped the gun ‘just a bit’ when I took it off the heat and started cooling and then beating, but it looked good when I let it cool overnight. And the remnants of the fudge left on the pot tasted very good.
This morning, I dug the slightly soft vanilla fudge out of the aluminum pan I had poured it into, and threw it in the fridge for a half hour or so cause I wanted to get a nice clean cut.
Perfection … melt in your mouth, creamy smooth and delicious.
Vanilla Fudge – makes ~1 pound/500 gm
300 ml milk ( >1 cup, use homogenized milk, half and half is even better)
350 g granulated sugar ( 1 1/2 cups)
100 g unsalted butter ( 1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
unsalted butter for pan
Butter an 8″x8″ square glass pan, or line it with a sheet of parchment paper which has some overhang on 2 opposing side. (Your fudge will end up VERY thin so try to use a smaller pan with sides.)
Put the milk, sugar and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring all the time, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted. Bring to the boil and boil for 20-25 minutes, stirring all the time.
When the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (115°C/239°F on a candy thermometer), remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. (You may see some brownish bits suddenly appear in your fudge just before the temperature is reached. This happens if you miss stirring the MIDDLE of the pot because the fudge WILL stick.)
Leave the mixture to cool for 5 minutes in the pan.
Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon for 5-10 minutes until the fudge starts to thicken and the gloss disappears. Pour into a prepared pan and leave to set at room temperature (do not put it in the fridge).
Once set, cut the fudge into small squares and store in a sealed container.
Maple Pecan Variation: Replace the white sugar with brown sugar and add 3 tbsp of maple syrup. Stir in 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans at the same time you add your vanilla.
Of course, I pushed the limit and made a batch of maple pecan fudge too. I over-cooked it cause I kept cooking past the soft ball to the soft crack and then I transferred the fudge (the butter was separating as I stirred) into a large metal bowl where it started to get all crumbly. I scraped the fudge into my prepared pan, and learned it was too big for the amount of fudge I had. So, I shaped the fudge into a rough rectangle using the parchment paper and let it cool. The crumbly bits aren’t grainy in your mouth, though, and are tasty as well.
Fudge at start and towards the end of the cooking when you want to start your soft ball test.
Lesson Learned: Even a less than perfect fudge is delicious.