Wednesday, 29 July 2009

A Tale of Three Fudges

Fudge. Even the name sounds decadent. It’s rich, it’s creamy, and it’s sweet enough to send any kid swinging from the rafters. It’s also one of my favourite confections of all time.

I find it very interesting to see how fudge has evolved, or at least our methods of preparing it. Some recipes take hours to make, as you painstakingly dissolve the sugar and cream, boil it to the soft ball stage, then let it cool, before giving it a thorough beating. This past week, I attempted no less than three different fudge recipes, each one slightly different and with varying results.

Firstly, I attempted a maple fudge recipe. This recipe used maple syrup, not maple extract and relied on condensed milk for its creaminess. This recipe was very tasty and plenty sweet enough, however I think I heated the mixture too fast. The condensed milk seemed to separate from the sugar/syrup solution. I thought it was all lost, but I decided to see it through. Funnily enough, it really came together when I was at the beating stage. The texture was still a little lumpy, and a wee bit soft, but my co-workers had no trouble gobbling it up!

The second type of fudge belongs to the “good old fashioned” genre. It relies on sugar, unsweetened chocolate, and cream which is boiled to the soft ball stage. You then have to let it cool undisturbed until it reaches the “lukewarm” temperature, about 110F. I’d say that this was my favourite of all the recipes. The texture was melt in your mouth smooth, and it was deliciously rich and chocolately. However, never forget that candy make is a very delicate process. Whilst I was beating the fudge, I turned away for literally a second. When I returned my gaze to the bowl, I was horrified to discover that the fudge that I’d been slaving away for over an hour and half had solidified and was no longer capable of being poured into the prepared pan. With a sigh, I let it cool completely in the pot before scraping out what I could.

I have a large tupperwear container full of fudge crumbs, which I will most likely use in a blondie/cookie recipe in the near future. The crumbs themselves are divine so I don't think that this attempt was a complete failure.

The third type of fudge that I made I would deem to be the “modern” fudge. It took about 20 minutes of preparation and uses chocolate, condensed milk, and marshmallows as it’s base. As a result, it had a much firmer and chewier texture than the other two types of fudge. It was good, but I definitely prefer the chocolate one to this one. Still, if it’s a question of spending 2 hours making fudge, or 20 minutes, I’d take this recipe. I modified the recipe slightly, as I didn’t have marshmallow crème. Instead, I used 10 oz of marshmallows (as directed) and added about a table spoon of corn or golden syrup. I also substituted white chocolate for semi-sweet and swirled a few cranberries on top.

All three of the fudges were very well received! It must be noted though, that if you decide to attempt to make fudge that is anything other than the marshmallow based fudge, a candy thermometer is an invaluable piece of equipment. Like I said earlier, fudge making is a finicky process that requires both finesse and practice. Luckily, you probably won’t be hard pressed to find those willing to eat your trial runs! ;)

I certainly had fun tackling fudge making. It’s certainly something I’ll try again in the future and I’ll be careful not to turn my back for a second on these tricksy confections!

Here are the links to the recipes I used: Maple Syrup Fudge, Chocolate Fudge (This website also has some really neat info about the science behind candy making -- highly recommended), and Marshmallow Fudge.

Happy fudge making and enjoy!

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