Making fudge from The Fudge Kitchen ‘Home Kit’, whilst eating fudge.
Making fudge is one of those things that I have on my bucket list of things to do before I get to a certain age. I know I don’t have the stomach for bungee jumping or abseiling, and even though I keep threatening to plunge myself into an ocean of sharks with bait around my neck and a prayer on my lips, I much prefer the charms of a square of smooth fudge. It’s the best part of the pick n mix shelf and the weekend farmers market, and it’s high time I tried my hand at making some. With that in mind, The Fudge Kitchen’s ‘Classic Make Fudge at Home Kit’ does very well at introducing my humble kitchen to the chemistry behind the confection, and a couple of selection boxes of their glorious fudge are perfect for a little inspiration.
Fudge is thought to be an American invention and the story goes that it was created accidentally in 1886 when someone ‘fudged up’ a batch of caramels. The recipe spread, and now forms the origin for the confectionary sold at The Fudge Kitchen. The American style fudge differs from its English counterpart in that the recipe calls for whipping cream instead of butter, and the cooked mixture is ‘creamed’ before being shaped and sliced. Let me tell you; it’s harder than you think.
The home kit provides most the things you’ll need – a cute apron (because, accessories!), two fudge shaping tools, dry and wet ingredient pouches to make 3 batches of fudge (plain, chocolate and toffee), an instruction booklet and an all-important sugar thermometer. One of the best indicators of good fudge is its smooth texture, which is achieved by monitoring the amount of crystallization that occurs during cooking. The best way of doing this is by temperature control, and so the sugar thermometer is essential. The things that aren’t included in the kit that you will need are: a pot, pastry brush, wooden spoon and whipping (double) cream – pretty basic items that are bound to be within reach.
The recipe is straightforward – heat the ingredients in the pan with the thermometer clasped to the side, boiling until 235F. Carefully pour the boiling mixture onto a suitable surface (marble, glass, wood), and begin the process of folding, creaming and shaping. This is where it gets tricky. The mixture needs to be handled just right, so that the resulting loaf of fudge is smooth and has a yielding quality.
I fuck up and get a sad-looking wet thing with an overly granular texture, but it is my first attempt and I must admit to also farting around taking pictures when my head should be in the paddle, willing the mixture into shape. The detailed instruction booklet in the kit has great troubleshooting advice on how to rectify a mistake, instructions on how to re-melt the cooked fudge and try again, and a link to a video that shows how the pros do it. There is also a list of numbers to call to get more specific advice should you need it.
I have yet to try making it again, but the gift boxes of professionally made fudge from The Fudge Kitchen are keeping me purring away quite happily for now. The ‘Pudding Gourmet Miniatures’ box mimics the best of British puddings, with an array of distinct flavours. Each has its own particular texture, ranging from the soft and sultry ‘Sticky Toffee Pudding’ and ‘Chocolate Brownie’ to the more flaky ‘Apple Crumble’. My favourites are the ‘Pecan Pie’ and the impossibly smooth ‘Cherry Bakewell’, but the competition is fierce. The second gift box is ‘The Taster Selection’ of nine of the most popular Fudge Kitchen flavours, and includes ‘Sea Salted Caramel’, ‘Vintage Vanilla and Walnut’, ‘White Chocolate and Raspberry’, ‘Peanut Butter’ and ‘After Dinner Mint’. Each box contains nine squares of fudge and makes for a lovely little gift.
I’d highly recommend the Fudge Home Kit as a great starting point to making fudge, and the instruction booklet is invaluable for beginners. I doubt I’ll be able to make fudge of the quality and variety of that at The Fudge Kitchen anytime soon, but know where to turn to when I need a little fix of the good stuff.
The Fudge Kitchen has shops in Bath, York, Cambridge, Canterbury, Windsor, Edinburgh and Oxford, or place an order online.
I was sent the home kit and fudge gift boxes to review.