At one point this February, I was to meet people of potential importance in my life. Obviously, I wanted them to like me and rather than charm and polite my way through tests and hurdles (which were in my own head), I decided to do what any socially awkward, culinary-inclined internet-dweller might do: bribe them with food.
I had been told in good confidence that they had a sweet tooth, so something on the confectionary side of things was in order. The more sugar, the better. I also wanted to send a parcel to a friend, so it would help if I could make more of it in one go (look at me, managing time like an adult). The answer? Fudge.
Now fudge I was fairly confident with, because I’d made a batch over the Christmas period with my sister. It was supposed to be a gift for people… until said sister ate it. It was during our research that we found this gem:
Now, despite Titli providing a way to check the fudge without a cooking thermometer, I always wanted an excuse to have one, so extra points for choosing fudge. Here’s an embarrassing picture of me with the thermometer, featuring questionable home haircut.
Both times I used a recipe found in an Italian cooking blog called Labna, here. If you’re too lazy to click through and ask your browser to translate for you (or because you just love my writing that much), here’s what you need to know.
Salted Butter Vanilla Fudge
- 450g white sugar
- 125 g fresh cream
- 150 g salted butter
- 25 g golden syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the sugar, cream, butter, and syrup in a large pan and heat the mixture to 118ºC. Once it reaches the correct temperature, remove the pan from heat and leave it to rest for 10 minutes without stirring. Add the vanilla extract and mix with an electric mixer until the machine start to do a “little hard work” due to the thickened mix. Pour the mix into an 18cm square tin lined with baking paper and quickly spread and smooth it. Leave it to cool completely before putting in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, remove the fudge from the tin and cut it into little cubes.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Guess who screwed up.
Before I point out where I screwed up (and consequently, found out fudge is a pretty robust recipe), allow me to marvel you with the amount of sugar and butter that were used. Below is a picture of the sugar, butter and syrup (before adding cream).
It should be noted that I made a batch and a half. Still, that was almost an entire block of butter!
Getting everything to melt and become one mix was easy enough, though I would recommend melting the butter first to speed things up. I kept stirring the contents of my pan to make sure they all played nice and debuted the thermometer (excitement!).
Because I have an electric stove, I wasn’t sure what to set it to in order to heat things up, so getting things to 118ºC was slow. By the way, 118ºC is the point that’s shown as soft ball on the thermometer; everything was going well and fitting together like adjacent puzzle pieces.
And then the red line started creeping up towards 118ºC.
Once it reached the right temperature, did I remove it from heat and let it settle? No. I kept stirring it and added the vanilla extract and stirred some more, at which point I remembered it was supposed to let it settle. So settle it did.
I let the 10 misplaced minutes play themselves out and then started stirring. Did I remember how things looked in Titli’s video? No. Did I have an electric mixer to notify me of some “extra work”? No. Did I end up pouring the mix in its mostly liquid-y state in the tin? Yes. In my defence, it was quite viscous at this point, like thick honey, and my whisking arm was getting tired.
I put the tin in the fridge with cautious optimism. Did the fudge look alright the next day? Yes. Did it have the right texture? Yes. Did it taste delicious? Duh! I partitioned the giant block of calorific goodness into three parts (what? I get to have some myself) and then cut those into cubes.
In terms of packaging, I made my own boxes. Because that’s how crafty I am. Plus, who wouldn’t want to remind themselves of basic geometry and drawing methods they learnt 10 years ago? To balance off all the awesome craftiness that was emanating from me, fate decided I should spill Indian ink on one of the boxes while I was decorating it*.
I folded and lined the boxes with everything I could think of (kitchen paper towels, cling film and bits of the baking paper that were lining the tin) and packed the fudge in. Then, I wrapped those mother******s in brown paper and tied them up in string. How f***in’ crafty is that? Look at how traditional and homemade they are! Here, have some artsy shots.
It was all worth it. The bribe worked and, I found out a few days later, my friend received his parcel amidst a bout with the flu, so now I’m a life saver, too.
*I dare you to guess my friend’s hair colour.