Russian and Chocolate Fudge

Thanks to Alison Holst for starting me off on this fudge journey with her "warming food for cooler days" cook book.

Method Overview

  1. Mix ingredients at low temperature until everything (in particular sugar) is dissolved
  2. Heat quickly to 117°C
  3. Cool quickly to room temperature

Ingredients (Russian Fudge)

Ingredients (Coconut Fudge)

Ingredients (Black Russian Fudge)

As for russian fudge, but replace golden syrup with 10ml molasses

Ingredients (Chocolate Fudge)

Notes

Preparation

Method

note: stir constantly for steps 1-5
  1. Mix all the ingredients (except for vanilla and nuts) together in a saucepan (A).
  2. Heat very slowly until the sugar is completely dissolved (B). I check this by listening for scratchy noises and sampling the syrup with a clean teaspoon. If you are able to hold it at a temperature, you should be able to heat quickly to 80°C and hold it there until dissolved.
  3. Heat fast to 117 degrees celsius (or until the very beginning of the firm-ball stage)
    • If using a probe thermometer, heat until the probe first reads this temperature, remembering to stir to keep the heat fairly uniform.
    • The syrup is almost ready when it forms a convex shape at its edge when dropped onto a plate, i.e. it spreads slightly in the middle, but not at the surface or near the plate (C).
    • After cooling down to room temperature, a good syrup should recover slightly (but not completely) when pressed (e.g. a dent, but no fingerprints), a bit like well-kneaded dough.
    • The syrup should hold shape in cold water, but mostly collapse when leaving water (tastes slightly firm).
  4. Add flavouring & nuts if desired, then heat again to 117°C.
  5. Remove from heat and place saucepan into the sink to cool down fast (D), stirring until the stirring becomes difficult, the fudge becomes a bit lighter, and starts feeling rough or grainy (E).
  6. If the caramel is not grainy after cooling to room temperature, reheat briefly until it just begins to crystallise, then cool again. The fudge will become lighter and less transparent when this happens.
  7. Pour out onto baking paper (F), spread out to about 2cm thick. For a good fudge, the ridges formed in the process of pouring should remain after pouring (G). Wait about 1-2 hours, then cut into pieces (H, I).
    • If the fudge is overcooked, it will be brittle, and break easily when trying to cut into pieces with a knife after cooling. This can be rescued to some degree by cutting (or at least scoring) during the cooling stage.
    • If the fudge is slightly undercooked (i.e. it retains its external shape, but heals up when cut with a knife), it may need refrigerating before cutting. Remember that the fudge will be slightly sticky (and self-healing) when raised back to room temperature, so try to keep the pieces separate.
    • If the fudge is substantially undercooked (i.e. it forms a smooth surface when poured out and has not crystallised), heat it quickly back to boiling until it just starts to crystallise. Or just use it as fudge sauce for topping ice cream, putting in melting moments, etc.

Additional note on cooling

I am aware that there is a suggestion that you should let the hot syrup cool before stirring into a fudge. However, the fast-cool method outlined here works for me and I don't see any reason to do otherwise. As long as you stir constantly during the cooling process, I don't expect that there will be a problem with large crystal formation. Heating is a bigger problem for this, which is why I recommend letting the sugar dissolve first before trying to get the syrup to the correct temperature. If there are sugar crystals left in the mixture before cooling, it will create an unpleasant grainy taste in the fudge, which would probably end up worse with a long cooling time (because the crystals have more time to form).

I hope you enjoy your fudge!