This could be also subtitled: “How I messed up making fudge – and loved it”. Curious? Read on to see my thoughts on the Nestlé Carnation website recipe for the Ultimate Fudge.
Hands up, I’m a complete and utter newbie to fudge making. In fact, this was my first time ever giving it a go. So I opted for the Carnation recipe… in part, because it’s simple. It takes just four ingredients and a little bit of time and patience, so given the pretty good reviews in the comments section – I got the big saucepan and wooden spoon out.
Reading through the instructions and it looked reasonable. Stick stuff in pan, melt slowly. Boil for a bit. Test the mixture in iced water and… “a soft ball of fudge should form”. Well, that caused me a problem right there. Because this isn’t ever going to produce a ball of fudge.
Fudge is the thing that’s made at the end. The lightened, creamy version of what you’re boiling in the pan. Though what you have in the pan is a caramel… So there I am, testing it thinking “well it’s a soft caramel but it’s not a fudge, should the consistency change more?” – all the while in the back of my head, I’ve got this bit of information circling around:
It is important to bring your mixture to a steady boil until it reaches soft boil stage or 118C.
That’s the comment that appears repeatedly from the Carnation team in the comments section. So there I was, a little bit confused about what they meant by ‘fudge’ and equally concerned about getting it to the right temperature. Oh, but did I mention I don’t have a sugar thermometer? Actually, the recipe doesn’t require one.
So I boiled and cooked and boiled a little more… And by this point I’d managed to over boil the sugar. I knew that because the caramel formed a hard, very chewy toffee on the ice bath test. No matter, we’ll see what comes out! Only…
Remove the fudge from the heat and beat until it’s very thick and starting to set.
Beat. Hmm… Beating is more than just stirring, to my mind. It’s done more vigorously or with the intention of incorporating air… and this mixture was not for stirring easily! I mean, it was thicker and harder to work than Paul Hollywood’s crumpet starter. I just didn’t have the arm-strength for it.
So I got my electric whisk out and just went for it.
What I’d actually done is somehow made an utterly delicious, finely sandy, melt in the mouth tablet-like treat. Firm on the outside and lightly crumbly on the inside. This sugary and creamily caramelised flavoured sweet was completely addictive and even Mr. E3, who doesn’t like fudge, devoured it.
I’ve made this recipe twice more since then. Once as a proper fudge and once more as this almost-tablet affair. We actually seriously prefer the hard, crumbly version I accidentally produced here. The good news is that mistake is easily repeatable! Yay!
I am left with questions over the boiling temperature though… as some guides suggest a soft ball stage is 112-116°C, a firm ball is 118 to 120 °C and then a hard ball is 121 to 130 °C. The Great British Chefs site explains “The most important thing to consider when learning how to make fudge is that the sugar has to be brought up to soft ball stage (between 112°C and 115°C)”. Which goes against the 118°C instruction given by Carnation in the comments.
No matter though. If you choose to have a stab at this particular recipe, all you need to do is make sure a teaspoonful of caramel dropped into an ice water bath and left alone for 15 seconds or so solidifies enough that it becomes a pliable ball. That way you’ll know that whatever you end up doing with your fudge mixture, at least it will set.
Pop back next week to see me tweak this recipe into a delightfully soft and squishy Gingerbread Fudge.
Get the Recipe | Ultimate Fudge Recipe from Carnation.co.uk
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