A lot of fuss surrounds the making of good non-grainy fudge, but I've learnt that as long as you adhere to a few guidelines it really isn't hard to produce a smooth and creamy result that can be adapted endlessly into different flavours. Fudge is essentially milk and butter cooked with a TRUCKLOAD of sugar- once you've perfected this blueprint you have free reign to add any variety of chocolate, nuts, dried fruit and flavourings you see fit.
So what are these basic rules? It's simple:
Rule 1: Make sure your sugar is completely dissolved- large crystals mean a yucky sand-like texture.
Rule 2: Know WHEN TO STIR and when NOT TO STIR.
Rule 3: Follow the timings- a clock/watch is useful.
Rule 4: DON'T SKIP the soft-ball stage test- you do not need a candy thermometer (I don't own one), just a glass of ice water.
The following recipe provides detailed step-by-step instructions that I experimented with a couple of years back until I was happy; carry them out exactly and you should be well on your way to candyland.
White Chocolate and Almond Fudge
Makes one 10" x 8" tray
Combine the following in a heavy pot and stir very gently over low heat for about 15 mins (the longer the better) until sugar is completely dissolved:
175ml evaporated milk (NOT condensed milk)
25g (slight less than 2 tbsp) butter
In the meantime, while the syrup is heating:
1) Chop up 300g white chocolate and a large handful of toasted almonds.
2) Line a 10" x 8" pan with greaseproof baking paper.
3) Get some ice-cold water ready on standby (I place a few small glasses of cold tap water in the freezer)
Increase heat to medium and bring the milky syrup to a moderate boil. DO NOT STIR. Let it boil for about 10-15 mins undisturbed until it reaches soft-ball stage.
Soft-ball test: Drop a tiny amount of the syrup into one of your prepared glasses of ice water- it should form a soft ball that you can roll between your fingers. If it dissipates immediately or forms a mass at the bottom of the glass, it isn't ready and you should continue letting it boil. Test again after a few minutes with a new glass of ice water. Make sure to use fresh ice water for each test.
Once it's at soft-ball stage, remove from heat and let cool for 10 mins- DO NOT STIR during this time.
Add in the chopped chocolate, chopped nuts and 1 tsp vanilla extract. STIR SLOWLY until the chocolate completely dissolves- the mixture should start to stiffen immediately, and is ready to be poured into tin when it completely loses its gloss, turns thick and makes a squelchy snapping noise when you stir.
Pour quickly into the lined pan and smoothen the top. Allow to cool completely until set, then cut into bitesize pieces.
Voila- your very own batch of smooth, creamy, luxurious homemade fudge!:)