Fudge Off Part Two: Black Forest Fudge

This is a more traditional sort of fudge, made by carefully boiling the ingredients to a specific temperature. Usually this takes ages. Or it seems to anyway – watched pots and all that. Unfortunately, you can’t really go away and come back again, just in case it gets too hot.

DSCN1831

So, once the sugar-cream-butter mix has dissolved and reached the required 113C (and I’m not sure whether I prefer my digital sugar thermometer which I have to hold steadily in the middle of the mix or my mother’s mercury filled one which she uses for jam and clips happily to the edge of the pan), it gets split into two. One half has dark chocolate added, the other gets white chocolate.

DSCN1835

Once the chocolate has melted, the dark mix is poured onto the (this time) foil covered tray. Some cherries are liberally strewn over the top, before being covered by the white chocolate mix. The rest of the cherries are scattered in a haphazard and carefree manner and the whole is left to set for several hours. Then it gets cut into squares and eaten. Because it’s not there to look pretty.

DSCN1838

DSCN1840

DSCN1845

Verdict: it’s fudge. Definitely fudge. I think it beats the no-fuss fudge simply because it’s more of a crumbly sort of fudge. And I prefer that sort of fudge.

And now I’m taking a break because of exams. See you on the other side!

Fudge Off Part One: No-Fuss Fudge

Since I have so many recipe books for treats and chocolates, I thought I would test similar recipes to try and find the best recipes. Or the best of the ones which I have in my books. Admittedly this first test isn’t a particularly fair one, since I’m testing a simple fudge against a “proper” fudge (as in, one that needs me to use a sugar thermometer), but that’s part of the point. Do simple fudge recipes hold their own against traditional fudges?

DSCN1819

So first of all, having made sure I have condensed, not evaporated, milk, I pour and splosh the milk, chocolate and butter into a pan to melt together over hot water. As I said, it’s a simple recipe. It calls itself “Chocolate Sort-of-no-Cook Fudge”. It comes from Miss Hope’s recipe book, as will the recipe for Part Two. It’s the sort of recipe you can use with children, since it is just about melting and mixing, and you don’t have to watch the mercury rise with an eagle eye. It is, in fact, very simple.

DSCN1821

The last time I made one of these simple fudges I stored the recipe away under “Fudge Icing”. It didn’t set, you see. Not even with considerably more chocolate than the pound the recipe had wanted. It just didn’t work. So I’m largely sceptical about simple fudge recipes. But we shall see.

Once it’s all melted together and smooth, it gets poured out onto a tin covered in cling film; I couldn’t find either baking paper or tin foil.

DSCN1825DSCN1828

I changed the suggested Smarties topping to chopped nuts, because they’re what I had in the cupboard, and I wasn’t making these with children. I think even Willy Wonka drew the line at using children in his recipes.

Verdict: This isn’t a crumbly fudge recipe, but they are very moreish. A bit like a soft toffee caramel. Definitely a recipe for when you want fudge now. Well, in about an hour, depending on where you leave them to set.

Fudge Brownies

DSCN1804

I was trying to write an essDSCN1806ay this afternoon, but I was distracted by a longing for something cake-y. So I rummaged through the cupboards to see which ingredients I have and then I hunted for a recipe to fit my ingredients. And I came up with Fudge Brownies. Which would have worked even better if I’d remembered that the Aga is quite hot and I needed to check on them after twenty minutes, rather than the recipe’s required forty.

I found the recipe in a book entitled Death by Chocolate. It’s a nice simple sort of recipe, meDSCN1808lting butter and chocolate, mixing sugar and eggs and flour and putting it all together. Then baking.

I scaled down the amount of sugar in the recipe by a quarterDSCN1811 – a side-effect of Lent is that I now struggle with overly sweet things –  and switched out pecan nuts for the rest of the dried strawberries (since I have them, but not nuts). So this became a 2, 3, 4, 6 recipe: 2oz plain chocolate with 4oz butter melted together; 2 eggs mixed with 6oz sugar and 3oz flour (preferably self-raising; I used plain plus bicarb). All happily blended together with chopped dried strawberries thrown in for good measure

DSCN1813

and then baked in the oven.

Verdict: sadly a little dry, because of the over-baking, but otherwise tasty. So a recipe to be re-tested whileDSCN1817 keeping a much closer eye on them.

Miss Hope’s Devon Strawberry Truffles

This recipe comes from Miss Hope’s Chocolate Box recipe book.

DSCN1778

It takes as its inspiration that standard summer afternoon tea fare: the great and glorious Westcountry Cream Tea. A little history on the Cream Tea. First mentions of such a meal come from Tavistock Abbey (Devon), where the monks fed labourers with bread lavishly (at least I hope they were lavishly) spread with clotted cream and jam. The clotted cream is important. A true Cream Tea uses clotted cream, and the only sensible way to eat it is by spreading a vast quantity of cream on before a tiny splidge of preferably strawberry jam. Whatever Cornish people may tell you about the jam going on first. That’s just silly: you wouldn’t put the butter on second now, would you? (You can tell my priorities too – at least twice as much cream as jam is necessary!)

I made Cream Tea truffles last summer, carefully turning scones into crumbs in which to roll my white chocolate strawberry truffles. I had several attempts at drying strawberries in the Aga. I’m still not convinced by the crisps of strawberries that came out. I don’t like freeze-dried fruits and it seems almost impossible to find non-freeze-dried strawberries. Or at least it was last year. This year, my local Tesco appears to have come up little trumps.

My recipe was merely: Basic Truffle Mix of cream, butter and chocolate; strawberry chips; scone crumbs.DSCN1785

This recipe is slightly different. Scones are nowhere to be seen, for one thing, and I finally have a need for the strawberry lime vodka that I found at Christmas, for another. I somehow manage to follow the recipe to the letter, for once. It’s a good recipe, written in my kind of cooking style. I “whap” the chocolate and cream in a bowl over simmering water to melt. I pour in spoonfuls of the vodka; I like recipes which calls for tablespoons of cream or liquor. None of this precision measurement that so many use.DSCN1786DSCN1788

I melt and stir and splosh. Once it’s all smooth I set it aside and stick the kettle on. I might as well. I now must wait for it to set.

Then I take a melon baller. I scoop out balls of truffle mix. This one has actually set sufficiently for me to be able to make decent truffles. Because the kitchen’s cold I leave the balls on the side to set further overnight.DSCN1790

By morning, they are solid enough to be able to cope with being dipped in molten white chocolate. Usually I use cocktail sticks for this job, but for some reason, I have none, so I find two forks instead. While the chocolate’s melting, I chop up several of the dried strawberries, to decorate the coated truffles. Somehow I even managed to have just enough white chocolate. I’m never quite sure how much I need to coat truffles, so I guess. Apparently I had a lucky guess today. And, ta-dah! Devon Strawberry Truffles.

DSCN1799

Verdict: The vodka’s quite strong. These aren’t quite Cream Tea truffles, but they are tasty. Make a nice breakfast…

Easter!

Sorry, I’ve been in a sugar-induced daze for the last few days. It’s not that my break from sugar was difficult, but it was limiting. Now I can eat things again without worrying about the ingredients. Well, no more than I used to.

Having ended my fast on Friday with hot cross buns with honey, I made an Easter egg, from 85% cocoa chocolate on Saturday: DSCN1774

Eggs are nice and easy to make. You melt chocolate in a bowl over simmering water (don’t let any steam or water into the chocolate: it’s DSCN1771like a cat – doesn’t like getting wet!) and then paint it onto a mould and let it set. Obviously for a whole egg you need to make two halves, and then glue them together with a little of the left-over chocolate in the pan. Because there’s always some over. Which means you get to lick the bowl out when you’re done 🙂

DSCN1772

Now since I miss the eggs of my childhood which had the extra goodies hidden inside, I was going to make truffles, from a new-to-me recipe, to hide away. Unfortunately, the truffle recipe didn’t set enough to actually turn into truffles, so I just dolloped it in, like a truffle creme egg. And much tastier – I always find creme eggs a tad bit too sickly-sweet.