Homemade fudge can be SO easy and versatile to make - and makes a lovely gift at any time of the year.
It's no secret - I LOVE CHRISTMAS ! I love the smells of the spices and dried fruits, the colours and seasons cheer. It's even more special now that I've got a cheeky little boy to share it with. It's children and excitement and bringing of families together that make Christmas what it is to me.
This Christmas fudge is simply divine. A rich dark chocolate fudge base, full of spice, dried fruits and homemade apple brandy liquer. The top part is a white chocolate fudge laden with ground almonds and topped with flaked almonds. It's like Christmas cake without the cake. Gloriously creamy and smooth. It's not crumbly and it's not chewy (apart from the fruit)
Of late, I've barely had any spare time which is why blog posts have been so scarce. Actually - I've had ZERO spare time. There is not a day this week when I have been in bed before 3.30am. Too much work to be done... Pre Christmas orders are just crazy and the amount of emails to do, packing, paperwork etc is extraodinary. If you have been missing my blog posts, I do apologise. However, at the moment priority is to try and get orders out the door at speed so everyone can get baking and crafting.
Well - I started making this batch of fudge about 1.30am this morning. Mainly as a gift for a neighbour. I think it's a combined sorry and thank you in one !
Blackie ; one of our pet chickens; decided to wander 1/4 of a mile down the road and take up residence with an elderly couple..The elderly man found out that she belonged to us and came to let me know. Blackie is normally the friendliest little thing and you can literally walk over and pick her up. Not in the neighbours' garden....
The man had tried chasing her round the garden with a leaf rake to chase her out. He'd also tried throwing a tarpaulin over her. Poor Blackie was petrified. Every time I went down to try and catch her - she'd leg it at warp speed. The garden was full of dense shrubbery patches and laden trees of rosy apples. It was very secluded being totally surrounded by 40ft high pine trees on three sides. I tried stealth. I tried foor. We tried cornering her and we tried a big fishing net. Couldn't get remotely close.
Blackie wasn't daft. She was roosting at night in the pine trees and had learnt how to climb ! The minute a human entered the garden, Blackie went up the tree. Up, up, up - so high up that instead of a big black hen, she looked like a little black speck.
It's been a good two months that Blackie has been away. But finally the old man and his wife managed to catch blackie with a big trap and a long fishing line that went across the garden and in the dining room window. Trap baited, I believe they waited several days for hours at a time on poor Blackie being tempted by their lure.
I'll take some fudge round tomorrow morning and hopefully make some more "Peace". They seem ok about it - though they didn't really want a chicken as a long term lodger.
RECIPE FOR BASIC FOOLPROOF FUDGE
125g salted butter
12 normal sized marshmallows
3/4 cup of evaporated milk
2 cups of sugar
180g chocolate (use white for light and dark for chocolate - I never use milk for this !)
up to 1 cup of dried fruit / nuts / chopped biscuits
Basically - that's it. Put the first 4 ingredients in a large pot. It's best in a non stick pan. Ordinary is fine - but the bottom has a tendancy to catch slightly. Cook over a medium heat, stirring. As soon as it comes to the boil - set your timer for exactly 5 minutes. Keep stirring and when the 5 mins are up, remove from the heat. DO BOIL FOR EXACTLY 5 MINS. Less than 4.30mins and it won't set. More than 5 mins and it starts to get grainy.
Add in the chocolate - either broken or chopped and stir in until it melts. Quickly, stir in your add ins and then pour into our silicone 8" x 8" fudge pan. Leave to cool. I like to refridgerate overnight before cutting into nice chunky squares. It will keep a good 2 > 3 weeks in an air tight box in the fridge. The 8" square silicone bakeware mould holds one fudge batch properly (just over 1/2 full)
If using a tin, grease very very very well. You'll still curse, swear and perhaps have to pour boiling water over the base to get this stuff out. I really DO recommend silicone for making fudge. No greasing etc - just pour the hot fudge straight in.
This recipe is VERY versatile and I start with my basic recipe above and then adapt.
Base layer - add 2tsp mixed spice to the 4 top ingredients. Instead of 3/4 a cup of evaporated milk, I used about 1/2 the amount in evaporated milk and the other 1/2 in my homemade apple brandy liquer. I mixed in dark belgian chocolate, with sultanas and cherries
We've got these fab new moulds. Actually - I've had these ones for a while but just have not got
round to putting them on the website. I originally intended them for small soap loaves - but they are fantastic for a deep layered fudge or small slicing bar type layer cakes - ideal for a couple to share over a couple of days. I've just recently started using these before promoting them and have already fallen for them big time.
I used four moulds for this double fudge project. I filled the first 3 moulds half full with the dark chocolate fudge base layer.
My top fudge layer was the basic fudge recipe with a teaspoon of Sainsbury's Taste The Difference French Almond extract. I added white chocolate to this and 1/2 a cup of ground almonds. It's smooth, distinctly almondy and much better than marzipan !
I poured some of the top almond fudge layer over each dark chocolate, boozy spiced bottom layer and quickly pressed on lots of slivered almonds to the top. Top layer is only about 1/2 the thickness of my bottom layer. The fourth empty mould was 3/4 filled with the remaining almond fudge.
After cooling, I turned out the fudge bars and sliced it. Each slice was cut again into three fingers. It looks just like Christmas cake and has some powerful kick of the dark chocolate, smooth almond top, apple brandy, spices and fruits.
It looks really pretty boxed up in homemade boxes. I love to make little peep through windows with acetate as a sneak preview of what is inside.
Blackie is happy to be home and once more eating from our hands and following at our heels. I for one am very thankful. Hopefully the neighbours are none the worse for their experience ! Sorry....
Sarah-Jane Nash - http://www.siliconemoulds.com/ - silicone bakeware specialist cook shop, November 2010