Confectionery, like preserves such as jam or marmalade, seems to be one of those categories of food that most people enjoy, but that have an intimidating reputation so few feel it is something they would make themselves. That used to be me, and I think it’s certainly no coincidence that both involve cooking sugar over high heat to a specific temperature! The risks, from ruining the product through over or under cooking, through to burning yourself seem obvious, and the benefits perhaps less clear…I still remember my sister being burned with hot sugar syrup when we were very young.
I would certainly agree they are foods you need to be careful with, but also well worth the effort – especially given the effort is usually significantly less than the equivalent cake/biscuits/pie etc – in about an hour of hands on time you could make a batch of say 10 jars of jam, or a couple of kgs of toffee, plenty to give gifts to a group of friends, and quicker than the equivalent in baking. Plus, because of that intimidation, everyone will be really impressed! Fudge is particularly simple as the problems people often talk about with cooking sugar, such as crystallisation, are rare due to the addition of butter or cream.
So if you’re going to give it a go, and this is a great one to start with, my tips for avoiding some of that stress are only a few:
- use a sugar thermometer – some people can estimate by look, I’d rather measure and be confident
- prepare all your ingredients before you start – chop, great, weigh and have them ready in bowls
- use at least a 3L saucepan – you don’t want to be worrying about boil overs
- It’s a cliche, but stay close at all times, and no pets or small children – to avoid distraction as burn risk
Lots of people are probably familiar with chocolate fudge, but eggnog is particularly nice, and obviously a great seasonal option. If you’re making it when eggnog isn’t available, I’d use full cream milk, up the rum, and add a splash of vanilla. I’m not generally a huge fan of white chocolate, but here it just provides a creamy background to the rum and nutmeg. I’m not sure now if I’ve encouraged you or put you off, but let me know if you give it a try!
White chocolate eggnog fudge
Adapted from a Not So Humble Pie recipe
- 400g white sugar
- 115g unsalted butter
- 185ml (3/4 cup) eggnog
- 300g white chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 200g white marshmallows or marshmallow creme
- 1 teaspoon rum or extract
- nutmeg for sprinkling
Line a 23×23 cm pan with baking paper.
Prepare your ingredients – combine sugar, butter and eggnog into a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, chop or break up the chocolate and put in a bowl, weigh out the marshmallows (halved if large) and put in a separate bowl, and have your nutmeg and rum nearby. It’s important to work quickly with most confectionery so you don’t want to be hunting around for key ingredients.
Bring the saucepan to a boil over medium high heat, stirring so everything is melted and combined. Once boiling, attach a sugar thermometer to the side if you have one that clips on, or check frequently if you don’t. Reduce the heat to medium so the mixture boils but doesn’t foam up or spit, and cook for about 10 minutes until the temperature reaches 112°C, stirring constantly.
Once your mixture hits temperature, remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring vigorously until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add the marshmallow, nutmeg and rum extract, and beat vigorously until well blended.
Pour the mixture into the pan and sprinkle with more freshly grated nutmeg. Allow to cool on a rack until room temperature before cutting in squares, and storing in an airtight container at room temperature, or fridge if weather is hot. It also stores well in the freezer.
Makes 64 squares