Christmas gift ideas from Stirring Stuff: Fabulous Fudge

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Chocolate orange fudge and Maple pecan fudge

In the run up to Christmas over the coming weeks Stirring Stuff will post a range of utterly delicious edible gift ideas for you to make and share.  Suitable for family, friends, teachers and work colleagues, they could also adorn your own Christmas table.  Fun to make and lovely to receive – there is something special about gifts that you have taken the time and trouble to make yourself.  This week we have two fudge recipes, next week I will share Christmas chutney and condiment ideas and after that there will be a selection of home made chocolate truffles and cheesy biscuits, and on the final run up to the festive week a chicken liver parfait.

Fudge  – what could be more delectable, it is the perfect treat to gift for Christmas.  Below are two tried and tested  fudge recipes. A soft and moreish Maple and Pecan fudge with a hint of salt, and a glossy Chocolate and Orange fudge. Both are so delicious that you will need to give them away as soon as possible !

As Richard Olney declared “just because its simple, doesn’t mean its easy”, fudge fits this truism perfectly. The ingredients, sugar, butter and milk or cream are simple and so in theory is its making – melt, boil, beat and set. Sugar can be a tricky customer due to its water absorbing (hygroscopic) qualities. Please don’t be put off by the horror stories – the recipes given below work if yo have the right equipment and a bit of patience.  You will need a sugar thermometer . Its also best to keep outside doors to the kitchen shut while making fudge so that drafts don’t upset the temperature giving you a false reading.

 

 

Salted maple pecan fudge

This fudge has a soft texture with a very fine sugary grain. It is utterly delicious and as there is no addition of white sugar it is not quite as sweet as other fudge.

Makes 1x 18-20cm (7″-8″) square baking tin

Ingredients:

100g pecan nuts

500ml (2x250ml bottles) maple syrup

50g butter

250ml double cream

¼ teaspoon flaked sea salt (optional)

You will need:

1x 22 or 25 cm small square baking tin, lightly buttered and base lined with parchment

A heavy based 3 litre capacity pan

A sugar thermometer, warmed in a jug of hot water

*=watch points for a perfect outcome

Method:

Put the pecan nuts into a frying pan over a moderate heat and toast lightly on all sides. Once lightly golden tip the nuts onto a  board and allow them to cool before chopping them into largish pieces. Set aside until required.

Butter and base line the baking tray.

Put the maple syrup and the butter into the heavy based pan and set it over a moderate heat. Melt the butter and then bring the syrup to a simmer. Bubble gently for 5 minutes.

Add the cream and stir to mix. Bring the syrup back to the boil and set the warmed sugar thermometer into the pan. Cook the fudge until the reading on the sugar thermometer reaches 118/120c, just over the soft ball stage.  *This takes some time (15 or so minutes) and you will need to stir briefly once or twice to make sure there is no ‘hot spot’ in your pan causing burning.

When the fudge reaches 118/120c remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Add the flaked salt and the chopped toasted nuts and then beat the syrup for about 5 minutes or until it begins to thicken and you can feel and see a sugary grain beginning to form. At this stage the syrup will just begin to lose its sheen.

*The fudge should still be a pouring consistency, so don’t be tempted to beat until it is ‘fudging’, or you won’t get a smooth finish to the top.

Pour the fudge into the prepared tin and then sharply tap the base of the tin on a hard work surface once or twice to settle the level.

Leave the fudge to cool and set completely (once cool I usually pop it into the fridge for half an hour) before removing it from the tin onto a cutting board. Remove the paper with a pallet knife and then using a large chef’s knife cut the fudge into neat squares. It will store in a tin (best kept in the fridge) for a couple of weeks – in theory – but its very moreish so I strongly suggest you gift it as soon as its made!

Chocolate Orange Fudge

 

Chocolate Orange Fudge

Gift wrapped. A family sized jar of Chocolate Orange Fudge

 

Makes 1x 18-20cm (7″-8″) square baking tin

Ingredients:

500g soft light brown sugar

150ml milk

1 dessertspoon golden syrup

125g butter, cut into cubes

100g dark chocolate over 70% cocoa solids, broken into squares or grated

Zest of one orange

You will need:

1x 18-20cm square baking tin, lightly buttered (no need to base line)

A heavy based 3 litre capacity pan

A sugar thermometer, warmed in a jug of hot water

*=watch points for a perfect outcome

 Method:

Put the sugar and milk into the heavy based pan over a low heat. Once the sugar is beginning to dissolve add the golden syrup and the cubed butter. Stir gently from time to time as everything melts together.

*Watch point – Do not allow the mixture to boil until the sugar is totally dissolved. You will feel the grains on the base of the pan as you stir.

When the sugar is dissolved add the chocolate and let this melt before stirring it into the fudge syrup. *The mixture might look a little curdled at this stage – don’t worry.

Turn the heat up to medium, put the warmed sugar thermometer into the pan and allow the syrup to boil until the temperature reaches the soft ball stage (about 115-118c). *Stir only very occasionally to make sure that the sugar and chocolate is not catching on the base of the pan. If it does, then slow the boiling down. *This stage takes longer than you think (about 15 minutes) but don’t be tempted to leave it unwatched.

Once the thermometer reaches the temperature above remove the pan from the heat. Let it sit without stirring for about five minutes. In this time, you can lightly butter the 25cm tin and zest the orange. After five minutes add the orange zest and then stir the fudge briskly for about 2-3 minutes or until it becomes thick and you can see very fine grains in the base of the pan.

*The fudge should still be a pouring consistency, so don’t be tempted to beat until it is ‘fudging’, or you won’t get a smooth finish to the top. Pour the still glossy fudge into the prepared tin. Set it aside to cool completely for a few hours before turning it out onto a cutting board and slicing in to neat squares.

The fudge will keep for several weeks in a tin (no need to refrigerate this one).

 

To gift – Arrange the fudge in pretty gift boxes or into attractive jars  – most supermarkets carry a range of attractive preserving and plastic clip-top jars.

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