Isn’t it amazing how we can conjure up something delicious with just a few ingredients? I am always awed by different combinations of raw ingredients and how they can can be transformed through cooking, into things vastly different from their original form. It’s alchemy and the reason why I love cooking so much. Fudge is one of these minimalist foods as it takes just 5 simple ingredients to make this delicious recipe. My mother has always been a great fudge maker, in fact, she is a terrific fudge wiz!! As we no longer live in the same country since I was 18 years old when I left for University, I only have the privilege of eating her delicacies when we meet and spend some time together.
This past week was one of those cherished occasions when we were able to share some time together and I asked her to show me the tricks to fudge making. I can cook practically anything, but I must admit that the few times I ventured into the realm of fudge making, I ended up with a tasty but toffee-like confection rather than cubes of a firmer consistency fudge. During this past visit, I asked her to make me some of her famous vanilla fudge. I took careful notes on the method and how to obtain the perfect fudge texture. I discovered that even though I was on the right track, I always took the mixture off the heat too early. This gave me a gooey toffee texture, which I could never get out of the pan, as they never firmed up enough. My mother’s recipe took about 25 mins from start to finish, but as we did not use a candy thermometer, I cannot give you a temperature gauge about the perfect temperature.The other truth is that it is labor intensive. This means that good old arm power is needed at the stove top stirring and beating constantly. Once you follow the advice and instructions, you should achieve a perfect batch of fudge. The other tip is: do not double the recipe. It is always best to make two separate batches instead of doubling the quantities. For some tried and true reason, smaller portions for this fudge recipe yield the best results.
Thank you to my amazing mom Jenifer for her expertise and labor of love. I now have a firm grasp and understanding of this recipe thanks to her example.
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup white sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt (1/4 tsp)
Extra butter for preparing the pan: use a 9″ square Pyrex dish or a 11″x 7″brownie pan.
In a heavy gauge medium size pan, add sugar, sweetened condensed milk, salt and vanilla essence.
Mix together well with a wooden spoon and put on medium-low heat.
Stir constantly. Remember that this is a process that will take about 20-25 minutes, so do not plan any other cooking and avoid distractions. You need to keep stirring the sugar and milk all of the time. Leaving the pot unattended could cause the mixture to burn at the base causing hardened browned bits in your mixture as it begins to crystallize.
About 15 minutes into the process, the mixture will thicken and become a deeper beige color. The sugars will begin to bubble and will pull away slightly from the sides while you beat. This means that is coming to the candy stage. You should lower the heat now, especially if your pot is thin. If you notice a rapid browning, definitely lower the temperature or the color may deepen too fast and will burn. KEEP STIRRING!!
About 5 minutes later, add the butter when you start to see it appearing this way like in the picture. A lovely sheen will appear now and the fudge will become smoother. Keep Beating for a few more minutes and the consistency will become smooth and thicker. You can test if nearly finished by raising the spoon and allowing the mixture to fall back into the pot. When the fudge is ready, the mixture will cascade down in smooth ribbons. Remove from the heat.
Pour into a liberally greased pan and spread with a greased wooden spoon. Be very careful when pouring the fudge out as the mixture is extremely hot. Spread evenly and allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve. Store in a container for freshness.
Nuts may be added in the final stage before pour into the prepared pan.