Most of my friends on Twitter have been raving about a new cook book, Short & Sweet – The Best of Home Baking, by Dan Lepard.
I thought about asking for it for Christmas, but in the end I just went ahead and bought it.
In the words of my brother, Keith, I have the “willpower of a gnat”.
In my defence, I had heard nothing but praise about this book, and it felt like I was being bombarded with subliminal messages to buy this book through Tweets on a daily basis!
When the book finally arrived, I knew I had done the right thing.
This is a beautifully written book, and I can’t wait to try more of Mr Lepard’s recipes!
For my first recipe from this book, I decided to try the soft vanilla fudge.
I have never attempted fudge before, but thought this would be great as part of my Weekly Bake-Off Secret Santa Christmas present.
My secret Santa recipient was Debbie of Welsh Cakes Online.
As an Irish girl living in Glasgow I decided to go with the Celtic theme, so baked her some Irish Wheaten Bread and made her some Scottish Terrier shaped fudge, inspired my Dad’s little Scottie dog, Archie, using my new Scottie dog cutter.
First attempt was over-cooked, resulting in a very dry, crystallised fudge – not good!
My error here was using a pan that was too big, which meant the bulb of my sugar thermometer was not quite submerged in the mixture. This meant that my fudge got too hot, and too hard!
Second attempt was almost there. The consistency was much better, but little flecks of burnt bits spread throughout the fudge – not great!
This time I used a smaller pan (yet still big enough to allow for the mixture to bubble up when it boiled).
Sadly, I mustn’t have stirred consistently enough, as a little of the mixture stuck to the pan, burnt, and then spread throughout the rest of the mixture, rendering it useless.
Third attempt was just right, and I was in fudge heaven!
I was determined to succeed. I had learnt through my first two attempts to watch the fudge like a hawk, stir like a Kenwood, and to remove from the heat before it got too hot!
And next, for the moment I had been waiting for, to try out my little Scottish Terrier cutter.
I am thrilled with how these turned out.
Now that I have had success with this recipe I will most definitely be making fudge again, and using different cutters to make personalised presents for friends and family.
Line a tin with baking parchment.
Place the sugar, evaporated milk, milk, butter and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
Reduce the heat to just under a boil and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly to make sure the fudge doesn’t stick and burn (see second attempt above).
Once the temperature reaches 240°F, remove the pan from the heat, and leave until the temperature drops to 230°F.
Add the seeds from the vanilla pod, and beat with a wooden spoon for approximately 8 minutes again until the mixture is thick and creamy.
Pour into the tin and leave until cool before cutting with a clean sharp knife, or with a cutter.