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When The Boyfriend moved into student accommodation over the summer he found that the previous tenant had left behind a random assortment of food, including a few cans of condensed milk. I, being the intrepid kitchen explorer that I am, decided to put them to good use before they expired (hey, baking stuff is expensive). I ended up making fudge and haven’t bought the fancy artisan stuff since – this is cheaper!

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This batch isn’t particularly photogenic. I’ve found it looks nicer if you cut the fudge while still warm. The recipe itself is simple, with only four/five ingredients and minimal skill required. The first time I made it I completely messed up the timing & technique and it was still delicious/edible. I also burned myself but trust me, it’s easy.

It’s actually a combination of about a dozen different recipes I went through when I was looking for one that included stuff I actually had/could buy (I’m looking at you America, with your marshmallow fluff). Honestly, I’m pretty sure there’s a large margin of error for the quantities, what seems to be important is how you make it. I kind of just…improvised, and it worked! So here we go.

 

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You’ll need:

85g butter

300g white caster sugar

150g Demerara sugar (if it’s easier, use 450g white sugar, I just prefer adding brown sugar for a more caramel-ish taste)

1tsp vanilla essence (you could also use Coffee or Peppermint extracts, or anything else if you have a more creative supermarket than my local Tesco)

375ml condensed milk

and

a saucepan

a wooden spoon (do not, ever ever ever, use plastic or metal for this)

a bowl of cold water

a tray or container covered in foil or Clingfilm

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Get these ready beforehand, it makes it easier!

(Yes, I’m using a bowl rather than a tray and no, it didn’t help my presentation.)

So, weigh your ingredients and over a medium heat, melt the butter and sugars for about 3 minutes. You want it to be liquid and a little glossy, like this:

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It’s important to melt the sugar fully so that your fudge isn’t too grainy. If the heat’s too high the sugars will crystallize and there’s not much you can do about it.

Add the condensed milk, having already opened it beforehand so that you’re not scrambling for a tin-opener with a saucepan of hot sugar in one hand. Throw in the vanilla essence when you’ve regained your composure.

Unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures of the next part, seeing as to how I got boiling sugar on my hand once before I didn’t want to repeat the experience. Anyway, turn the heat up a little and get the mixture to a rolling boil, that is – the little boiling bubbles constantly flow over the surface, from the centre of the pot out. I’m trying to give you a good mental image there, not too sure it’s effective.

Stir constantly. Stir or you will end up throwing the pot out because there’ll be a blackened layer on the inside (oh, by the way, washing up after this will be fun). So. Where was I? Rolling boil, stir until your arm hurts. The whole process should take about ten minutes so with melting taking a few minutes, you should boil the mixture for another 5-8. When it’s been boiling roughly 6 minutes, test the mixture by dropping a bit into that bowl of cold water I mentioned earlier.

You’ll know the mixture is ready to be taken off the heat if the fudge forms a little ball when dropped into the cold water. Give it a few seconds then test it gently with your fingers. If it feels firm and, well, fudge-like, remove from the heat and keep stirring. If it doesn’t seem ready yet, keep it on the heat but check every 30 seconds or so.

Once removed from the heat, beat the fudge-mixture for a minute or two, until it becomes hard to do so. You want to incorporate a lot of air to cool it down. You can also place the saucepan in a larger pot of cold water to speed up this part. When the mixture is stiff, pour into a lined container. Be careful you don’t let it cool too much as it will be impossible to get it into the tray. The fudge rapidly goes from boiling hot to still-really-hot-but-solid-and-stuck. You should feel this progression as it happens so just be observant and you won’t end up desperately licking a hardened mass of sugars straight from the pot.

While I’m aware my steps look a bit long, it really is a simple thing to make. It doesn’t take too long and people will be impressed. Plus, it’s delicious. Just keep an eye on the consistency, don’t boil it too long and keep small kids and animals at a distance – boiling sugar = pain.

Give it half an hour in the fridge to cool and while it’s still warm, divide your fudge however you please. I won’t judge you if you choose to keep the whole slab to yourself. I prefer to cut it into homely little chunks and drive my health-conscious family members insane with temptation.

 

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