Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Story of Fudge

What is Fudge?

Fudge is a very popular type of confectionery that is typically very sweet and very rich.  It is usually made as a rectangular slab of fudge, and then cubed and sold loose by weight or in boxes that make great gifts. Alternatively, fudge can be made in a log shape and sliced. In the UK you can buy boxes of fudge in many popular tourist destinations, and quite often the boxes have a picture of the place you have visited on the lid to remind you of where you have been, or if given as a gift, to show the recipient what a beautiful place you have visited.  The main ingredients for fudge are sugar, butter, cream and flavourings.  The ingredients are heated to the soft-ball stage (around 240 degrees fahrenheit/116 degrees centigrade), and then the mixture is beaten as it cools to ensure that the consistency is wonderfully smooth and creamy.  Nobody wants to eat lumpy fudge, and quality fudge has a smooth consistent texture. 


Fudge Recipes?

The early recipes for fudge were notoriously difficult to make, and it is believed that the invention of fudge actually came from a batch of caramels that went wrong.  It might sound like a simple operation to heat the mixture of ingredients and then beat it while it cools, but in those days before accurate sugar thermometers were available, many batches of fudge had to be discarded because the fudge was either undercooked or overcooked or ‘crystallized’ because the mixture had not been stirred well enough. As time went on, more foolproof recipes for fudge were developed that could successfully be used at home.  These new fudge recipes contained corn syrup, because the corn syrup prevented crystallization and ensured that the fudge would have the desired smooth and creamy texture.  Recipes for fudge were also produced that used sweet condensed milk, marshmallow crème or other similar ingredients rather than regular milk or cream, as again they had a better guarantee that the fudge possessed a uniformly smooth texture.

The ingredients of modern fudge are very similar to an older type of confectionery known as ‘tablet’, which was mentioned in Lady Grisell Baillie’s ‘The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie’ in Scotland between 1692 and 1733.  However, the birthplace of modern fudge is adjudged to be America and one of the first mentions of fudge in America is in a letter written by a female student at Vassar College in 1886.  She wrote that her classmate’s cousin had been making fudge in Baltimore and had sold it for 40 cents a pound. The student got hold of the recipe for fudge and made 30lbs of fudge to be sold at the 1888 Vassar College Senior Auction.  The fudge was very popular and, and the fudge recipe went on to be used at the college for many years.  Making fudge spread to some of the other women’s colleges in America, and both Wellesley and Smith have their own fudge recipes dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Further proof of the US being the birthplace of modern fudge comes from Harmsworth’s Household Encyclopaedia, published in London in 1920, which states that fudge is ‘a sweetmeat that hails from America, but is now popular in other countries also’.

What Flavours of Fudge Are There?

Nowadays, you can find fudge in practically any flavour that you can think of.  American fudge is traditionally chocolate flavoured, and you can get milk chocolate fudge, dark chocolate fudge and even white chocolate fudge. In the States, Hot Fudge is a more liquid version of thick, syrupy chocolate fudge that is poured over the top of ice cream, desserts and cakes. In the UK, fudge is more commonly caramel flavoured and in Devon and Cornwall they produce fudge made from their delicious Clotted Cream.  Some of the flavours of fudge that I have seen  for sale are chocolate caramel, banoffee, rum and raisin, toffee, strawberries and cream, fruit and nut, lemon meringue, maple and walnut, key lime, vanilla, mint and rocky road.  Is your mouth watering yet, because mine is at the thought of all that scrumptious fudge!  You can buy fudge at a lot of retail outlets, especially in tourist destinations or gift shops.  Handmade fudge is often for sale at markets, being sold loose by weight, so look out for that fudge stall!  But the most convenient way of choosing fudge is probably by purchasing it online.  Amazon has a very wide range of fudge to buy online, offering gift boxes of fudge in many different sizes and flavours.  You can also find fudge kits for a very easy way to make your own fudge and fudge recipe books.

Fudge makes the perfect gift for that friend or loved one with a sweet tooth, or why not choose some fudge as a special treat for yourself?  So whether you want to buy some fudge or learn to make your own homemade fudge, you will find everything that you need to online.

Fudge image Brampton Cyclist Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic