The term ‘creamy’ is in there for a reason. This is not brittle, crumbly, hard fudge but creamy, soft, melt in your mouth wonderousness; with the beautiful combination of intense, rich sweetness with a hint of sea salt. The darker colour and intense richness comes from using a dark brown sugar, which has a rich, treacly flavour and adds incredibly to the end result. I also find the salt helps balance out the richness and keep it on the good side of sickly, a line on which fudge likes to teeter precipitously.
When I decided to first make fudge, I did a little research to find a recipe that seemed delicious, but also foolproof – it was my first time after all. However, the the internet is strewn with so much advice, so many recipes, fudge, tablet, disasters, chocolate fudge, nutty fudge, peanut fudge, fudge brownies, fudge icing, (etc etc) that I was a little overwhelmed and wanted something tried and tested. This is when my wonderful friend, the tailor, had her mum send over her tried and tested, foolproof recipe. It was a photograph of the recipe scribbled on a piece of old paper. Perfect. Not in any way detailed, but perfect. I will gladly fluff up this perfectly concise recipe.
The first time I made the fudge recipe, I didn’t have enough white sugar, so I substituted some light brown sugar, and of course being obsessed with the salty-sweet flavour combination, I sprinkled some sea salt on top at the end. It was wonderful. It came out soft, not chewy, but firm and melt in your mouth. It was amazing. The second time was also amazing (good to confirm general reliability and wonderment of recipe), but I didn’t use baking paper. Do not follow suit. I wanted to tweak ever so slightly more. So the next time, I added half dark sugar, a quarter light brown and a quarter white. I also threw some salt in during cooking time AND sprinkled it on the end. Even better. Although, my sugar thermometer had a bit of a nervous breakdown during the show and I had to guess the temperature (which I do not recommend) and it came out even softer than before. Equally delicious, in fact more so in the flavour arena, but a touch too soft. Verging on cookie dough kind of texture, which is dangerous because you don’t actually feel like you’re being as naughty as you are when you eat it, cause it disappears so unbelievably rapidly in your mouth.
A few pointers you should be aware of before making fudge:
- A sugar thermometer is a must. I tried the ‘soft ball method’ (for those of you who are already fudge experts) and ended up confused, sticky, and surrounded by glasses of cloudy fudge water.
- Use baking paper in between your fudge, and your fudge containment vessel. Even if you grease it, your fudge would much rather stay as one with your baking sheet than be removed as a neat little fudge square ready for consumption.
- Use an electric hand mixer and keep beating. I tried with pure arm strength the first time and gave up too soon, because after 20 minutes of pathetic beating attempts, I thought yeeaaaaah sure it’s done, and poured it out into a sad puddle of melted sugar. Not fudge.
- Keep beating. I repeat this cause it’s important. You want it to be very thick, as in you can see flashes of the bottom of the pan when mixing thick, and you want it to lose it’s shine, it won’t be fully matte, but it will have a grainy, slightly cloudy shine instead of a gloss.
- If you double the recipe, prepare for double the time in beating (35 mins beating probably)
- You don’t need a baking tray the right size so the fudge meets the edges, you can pour the fudge out into a slab on a larger tray, provided it’s thick enough when you pour it out.
Creamy sea salt fudge
Timings: 30 – 45 mins cooking time, plus 4 hours – overnight setting time
Quantities: About 30 squares
Kitchen stuff: Baking paper, electric mixer
1/2 pint evaporated milk
225g (8oz) dark brown sugar or Muscovado
112g (4oz) white sugar
113g (4oz) light brown sugar
40g (1 1/2oz) butter
1/8 tsp (large pinch) sea salt plus extra for sprinkling
1. PREP: Prepare a baking tray with baking paper. You can use a large baking sheet and pour out a slab (that doesn’t touch the edges), or for a higher, more even layer of fudge, us a smaller, high sided baking dish and make sure the sides are also lined.
2. MELT: Put the sugar, evaporated milk, sea salt and butter in a heavy based saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, stirring gently, and heat until 240F (116C). Remove from the heat and leave for about 30 seconds.
3. BEAT: Beat thoroughly with your electric mixer (or hand beat with a wooden spoon) until the mixture gets very thick and loses it’s shine. You want it thick enough that you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir. It can help the mixture get thicker if you leave it to settle for a few seconds every 5 minutes of beating or so. Generally beating takes 10 – 20 minutes.
4. POUR: When thick, pour the fudge into the prepared baking tray or dish and tilt it around to get an even layer. Sprinkle the top with sea salt whilst it’s still sticky. Leave to set for 4 hours or preferably, over night. Cut into squares and store in baking paper in a tupperware box for a few weeks.