There's a distinct nip in the air of a morning and evening this week (and a cold dull grey day of rain in-between) which makes it very clear that Summer is over and as any retailer knows that means Christmas is almost upon us. Evidence to that effect is stacking up at work in the form of tins of Quality Street outside my wine store and the first customers have been asking for stout and barley wine which means they're making their Christmas puddings. At home I'm sorting out jam jars, stockpiling sugar, idly sketching out possible decorative ideas for Christmas cakes, and thinking about trying out recipes.
I bought a copy of Annie Rigg's 'Sweet Things' as a birthday present (and was really loathe to give it away) I really liked 'Gifts From The Kitchen' a couple of years ago and really want a copy of 'Sweet Things' of my own but have settled for sneakily copying down a couple of recipes from it for now, one of which was for the fudge I made last night. The thing with Annie's books (you surely have to be on first name terms with an Annie) is that she's an amazing stylist 'Gifts From The Kitchen' made me think as much about presentation as it did actually cooking, and 'Sweet Things' looked to have something of the same aesthetic about it.
Home made fudge is much better than any I've ever bought and is the perfect thing for making to share as no one person could reasonably get through a whole batch on their own. Last night's effort was maple pecan (or in my case walnut) fudge and is possibly the sweetest thing I've ever eaten. There was also a recipe for cherry and brandy fudge as an alternative for rum and raisin which sounds good and one for candied almonds rolled in chocolate and freeze dried cherry powder which sounds very good. The maple walnut fudge is interesting, I will make it again but was unprepared for just how rich and sweet it would be, it was also quite different from any other fudge I've made...
Maple Walnut Fudge
150g of caster sugar
300g of maple syrup (thank god for Costco or this wouldn't be financially viable)
2 tablespoons of golden syrup
150ml of double cream
75ml of full cream milk
2 tablespoons of whisky (Annie says bourbon but I'm a scotch girl and used Highland Park 12 for it's slightly smoky edge, I might try something really peaty next time...)
1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
25g unsalted putter
100g pecans toasted and roughly chopped
A 17cm square tin lined with baking paper.
Combine everything but the butter and nuts in a heavy based saucepan (one that can be plunged in cold water later, so not a preferred and prized Le Creuset which really objected to this treatment) and cook gently over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar, stir frequently.
Stick a thermometer in the pan, bring to a gentle boil, and continue to cook until it reaches 114 degrees C, Keep stirring to prevent it from catching and burning. When it's ready take it off the heat and plunge the pan into a sink of cold water to stop it cooking any more. Add the butter and gently stir before scooping it into a large heatproof mixing bowl. Leave undisturbed for 15-20 mins (I don't think I waited long enough which has possibly affected the texture as I couldn't get the lovely grainy crumbly finish I prefer).
Beat (Annie says with a wooden spoon or spatula, I say with an electric hand whisk) for 3 or 4 mins until the fudge thickens, looks less glossy, and gets a bit grainy. Stir in most of the nuts saving a few to press into the top and spoon into the tin, leave to cool overnight. This should keep for up to 2 weeks in an air tight container.