Getting ready for Christmas part 3 – Fudge!

So I’ve been promising this recipe for a while and have finally ¬†found the notebook it’s scrawled into. This recipe is a little trickier than the truffles in as far as there’s more that can go wrong, but it’s super worth it. As usual, this will be a long winded recipe that will hopefully steer you clear of the pitfalls I have already come across.

Fudge

Ingredients

– 1 can condensed milk

– 115g butter

– 450g Soft brown sugar

– 150ml milk

– Few drops vanilla essence or other flavouring

Method

– Grease, and preferably baseline a tray to set the fudge in. I have a sheet of teflon which is ideal for the job.

– Melt the butter, and mix together the ingredients in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Try to mix as thoroughly as you can to avoid lumps. Take a short break to pick the condensed milk tin clean.

– Put the pan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. As with the Turkish Delight, you will need to get this to softboil stage in order to have it set. This takes around 15 mins or so of fairly intense boiling the mixture, and the magic temperature is 115*. I personally think the most consistent way of achieving this is with a sugar thermometer but have made it without one before – just google ‘softboil sugar’ and there are plenty enough videos of how to test sugar temperatures.

The difficulty here is that stirring tends to lower the temperature, but this stuff will burn to the bottom of the pan if left unattended. We have a lovely double ring gas hob for really packing heat into something – if you don’t, then the best thing you can do is at least get it to reduce a fair bit – that 15 mins of heavy boiling should do the job.

– Once it has reached softboil temperature, take off the heat and tip into a fresh, cold saucepan. Although this will add to the washing up it’s very difficult to cool it without it. Put the original saucepan in to soak straight away. You also want to add your vanilla at this point.

– Your next task is to beat the fudge mixture until it sets. This takes¬†time. Your arms may fall off. You’ve been warned. It needs to crystallise and cool – you’ll be able to tell when it’s done when the texture is grainy, and not glossy. You can double check by cooling a spoonful and seeing if it sets nicely.

– Once it has been set, spoon the fudge into the tray you prepared earlier (if you’re like me, you didn’t, but we can pretend you did. You should go prepare that tray now). Smooth it out, and wait for it to cool. Slice up, and eat. Nom nom nom.

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Getting ready for Christmas part 2 – Chocolate Truffles

This is a recipe I found on a forum back in the day when I was about 17. I have no idea where the original came from any more, but I had never seen anything like it at the time and have been using it for years. Now that people like Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith (whose recipes, incidentally, I can’t stand since the great coffee cake disaster of ’06…just ask my poor nan!) have websites, there are a proliferation of similar recipes all over the internet now. They’re very simple to make and taste delicious. Great for Christmas, or in fact, just for scoffing. Either way, they’re going in the hampers!

(Pictures to follow on Friday once I have actually made them – just thought I’d give you all the recipe as early as possible!)

Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients

– 225g dark chocolate (milk doesn’t set so well – plus you’re adding loads of cream. Dark is fine milky chocolate lovers.)
– 250ml thick double cream
– 55g butter
– Unsweetened cocoa powder to dust
– Flavouring of your choice – more on that at the end!

Method

– Chop the chocolate into small chunks. A pain in the backside, but important to have it set properly.

– Put the cream into a heavy bottomed pan and slowly bring to a gentle simmer. The intention is not to boil it to death, just get it hot. Tip in the butter, and keep simmering until it is melted.

– Pour the cream and butter mixture over your melted chocolate in a heatproof bowl. The smallness of the chunks of chocolate is important here because you want the chocolate to gently melt under the influence of warm cream – slowly and gently. This will make it set better. Don’t cheat by just nuking your chocolate – if it persistently won’t melt, make a bain marie by putting it in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, and stir constantly. Don’t let the water touch the bowl – we’re going for a gentle heat here.

– Sometimes it separates a little at this stage. I don’t fret too much as once it’s chilled this usually resolves itself with a bit of stirring. Leave to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, and then give it a little time in the fridge until it’s quite firm and cool to the touch.

– Spoon out the mixture into truffle sized pieces and with COLD HANDS (run under the cold tap if necessary) roll out into a surface dusted with cocoa to get a good shape. Keep refrigerated (fresh cream won’t keep that long at room temperature!).

– Eat. Or give away as presents. Or serve at your Christmas party. If you have the self restraint.

I said I’d talk about flavourings didn’t I?

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten. You have a few options here – your imagination is the limit. Some flavourings are better added to the cream, some are better added to something approximating the finished mixture.

  • If you want to add cinnamon or similar, I’d recommend adding this to the cream as it heats up, then strain the cream before tipping over your chocolate to remove any chunks. This will make a lighter, more delicate flavour.
  • Whiskey, rum, and most spirits are pretty delicious with chocolate. I add a tablespoon or so to the cream just before pouring over the chocolate as it is the easiest way of incorporating the liquid.
  • On the other hand, citrus, such as orange, is easiest to add to the hot mixture – a tbsp of juice plus a little finely grated zest is good. Decorate the top with a tiny sliver of sliced peel, or candied peel if you can get it.
  • Chilli! Chilli chocolate is the business. Add some finely chopped chilli to the mixture and decorate with a thin slice of chilli so everyone knows these chocolates are HOT.
  • Cracked black pepper – also nice. Go for something fairly coarse.
  • Mint – I add a touch of mint essence to the cream. Be sparing.
  • Alternatively, roll your finished chocolates in flaked almonds, or stir in chopped nuts – hazelnuts are good, as are walnuts.
  • I personally can’t abide coconut but there are some depraved individuals who might consider ruining some perfectly good truffles by rolling them in dessicated coconut. I’ve heard they exist, anyway.

Hopefully these are enough ideas to get you started! Fudge recipe will go up shortly – once I find it!