So my first two weeks back at work have been clarifying, gratifying, and good for shaking off the last traces of lethargy that had settled in my body after a year off in babyland. The pace can feel sometimes like air traffic control, the shifts can run from noon to midnight, there’s always something that can be better organized… and it feels like a beloved old boot that fits just right and I’m hitting the ground running. There are also some new additions to the menu that I can’t help but want to test variations of at home.
Fudge is the lucky first home-experiment, which the Québecois French call sucre à la crème (this translates literally to creamed sugar in a very helpful stroke of language because that’s exactly what it is). Sugar loves to crystallize, but with some careful temperature control it can be convinced to stay crystal-free until it cools to the right point, at which time you stir the heck out of it and it forms millions of hyper-small crystals, like a tsunami of fine powdered sand, and the whole thing becomes, well, creamy. And very more-ish. It’s a lot of fun to make.
It also gave me a perfect excuse to start breaking in my new candy-making book, called appropriately, Candymaking by Ruth A. Kendrick and Pauline H. Atkinson (because I can’t afford Greweling right now, but also on it’s own merits). It’s a slim volume published and republished since the 40s with a stellar record and a generous chapter on fondants that looks mighty comprehensive. But I wanted fudge. Coffee fudge!
I chose the recipe for the coffee flavour because I love coffee anything, but also because it’s a traditional recipe that relies only on temperature and agitation to form the candy. Some recipes use marshmallows, icing sugar, or condensed milk to make the candy rather guaranteed to become smooth and fudge-y, but with simplicity comes more authentic and creamy-cream results. It’s better learning tool as well. I think I remember very vaguely attempting fudge when I was a teenager, but this would be my first try as a semi-informed grown-ass woman with a working thermometer. (spoiler alert: it worked).
The first sensation of this fudge is a creaminess unlike other ‘quick’ fudge candies; it melts away ethereally soft on the tongue, first with a taste of toasted sugar and then the coffee flavour arrives and everything rounds out and makes perfect sense. It’s a lovely little candy, and given that the Ninja (as soon as he was allowed to, after the photos were photo-d) ate the whole batch up in two sittings, well,… I’ll definitely be making fudge from this book again. All the sticky thumbs up.
Adapted to increase the temperature by 1-2 degrees, from Candymaking by Ruth A. Kendrick and Pauline H. Atkinson.
Makes 50-60 pieces.
Note: It’s better to wait for a dry day to make fudge; rainy weather will cause the candy to absorb extra moisture from the atmosphere and become too soft. I totally kinda only waited for a break in the rains that are currently only now just releasing their floody grip on Eastern Canada.
- ⅔ cup (166 grams) liquid coffee
- ⅓ cup (80 grams) heavy cream
- 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup chopped nuts (optional)
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine coffee, cream, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally with a clean wooden spoon, and if any sugar crystals appear on the sides of the pot, brush them away with a brush dipped in water.
Cook the mixture to 235℉ (112℃), or soft ball stage. Remove from heat and without stirring, place the butter and vanilla on top of the candy. Let it cool undisturbed to 110℉ (43℃), then start stirring it with a wooden spoon until it gets thick and light in colour.
Grease a sheet of parchment paper, form a square with the fudge and wrap completely with the greased parchment.
Store in the fridge, well wrapped in plastic, where it will keep for 2-3 weeks.