The ‘most wonderful time of the year’ for many of us, Christmas is full of family traditions, lots of lovely food and the giving and receiving of gifts. A batch of fudge is a brilliant combination of all these things and the matriarchs of my family have been making festive fudge for decades.
The wooden spoon was handed over to me about five years ago and I love planning what to make every season. I always include our family recipe for classic vanilla (otherwise there are tantrums), but a quick look at Pinterest will show that the flavour – and colour – combinations for modern-day fudge are in the thousands. There are also numerous methods ranging from the traditional ‘soft ball’ stage recipe (where a sugar thermometer is an essential bit of kit) to the seriously easy – and fun – ways to make fudge using varied ingredients like condensed milk, marshmallows or even corn syrup.
Fudge has been around for a really long time, so it’s a piece of confectionery with heritage too. Many food historians have suggested that fudge originated in America in the late 1800s and was the result of a bungled (‘fudged’ – see what they did there?) batch of caramels, when the sugar was allowed to recrystallize.
Fudge is the perfect gift for anyone with a sweet tooth and it’s cheap to make. You can also freeze fudge so I make a couple of batches in the run-up to Christmas, cut it up and put into freezer bags. Then if I need a last-minute gift for someone, I can just get some out and pop it into a cellophane bag or a recycled jam jar with a bit of ribbon and a tag.
If you have children, the following recipe is incredibly simple, doesn’t involve boiling hot sugar and most importantly of all, there are UNICORNS! Yes, the trend that will not die (it’s still got legs, fnar fnar!) has even made it into fudge.
680g white chocolate chips
120ml double cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
A tiny amount of purple food colouring (we used Wilton Violet Food Colouring Paste 28g)
Lots and lots and lots of sprinkles – the most magical ones you can find (we used Dr Oetker Unicorn Confetti Sprinkles)
Prepare a 20cm x 20cm square pan with baking paper.
Put the white chocolate, cream and vanilla extract into a microwave safe bowl. Melt in 30 second intervals until smooth. (If you find your white chocolate is splitting and looking grainy, just add a few teaspoons of warm water and stir vigorously to bring it back).
Add a few drops of purple food colouring. Keep adding until you get the purple shade you like (it’s worth noting you can use any colour you want here – pink, green etc.…).
Put into the prepared pan and smooth down with a knife or spatula.
Add the sprinkles – press them lightly into the fudge (little hands would love to do this part if you are making fudge with children).
Place in the fridge and cool for at least an hour. Cut into squares.
This recipe makes about 25 pieces, depending on how large you make your squares when you cut them up.
If you’re more of a traditionalist, this simple Vanilla fudge recipe is for you (but I hasten to add that it’s not my secret family recipe. That would be telling )
550g demerara sugar
200g golden syrup
350ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼-½ tsp sea salt flakes
Melt the butter, sugar, syrup and cream in a medium, high-sided heavy-based pan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Line a tin about 23x23cm with greaseproof paper.
Bring to a simmer over a medium-low heat without stirring and cook, stirring occasionally until it reaches 116C, stirring more regularly after it reaches 100C and turning down the heat if it begins to catch.
Take off the heat and beat in the vanilla and salt with a wooden spoon, then continue beating until the fudge has thickened and lost its shine. Pour into the tin and leave to set.
Once it’s firmed up a little, after about an hour, slice into squares and leave to cool completely.
If you love fudge, but don’t have the time or inclination to make it, I highly recommend https://rolysfudge.co.uk. Probably the best fudge I have ever tasted and they’ve just launched a highly successful dairy-free fudge range which is fully accredited by the Vegan Society.