Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge

There’s been a lot recently about Young Adult fiction and how adults should be “embarrassed” about being seen reading it. I’ve read stuff agreeing and disagreeing.

Now, ultimately, I don’t really care what people read, and I’ve never really understood the concept of “guilty pleasures” (if you like it, don’t feel guilty about it; it’s just what you like), but what I really don’t understand is, why books have age limits?

Granted that some books are unsuitable for the young and some you can probably only get away with reading if you’re reading it to a child, but for all the other books? If you enjoy it, read it.

I mean, I know publishers like to categorise things and pick an age group to market books at, but they can’t control who actually buys the book.

So, don’t feel guilty about your reading choices. And don’t care what other people think. We aren’t all the same and we have different tastes. Read what you enjoy.

And speaking of books, I found a new recipe book this week. Home Baked Gifts with Love. Not because I want to make gifts at the moment, but because I like tray-bake kind of recipes. Fudges, cookies, muffins, etc.

DSCN0149

I thought I’d start with fudge. It’s a simple sort of recipe (my favourite kind!), that doesn’t involve a sugar thermometer, which is just as well because I have no idea where I put mine. And I made a change or two. Like sprinkling marshmallows across the top.

So. You’ll need:

100g dark chocolate

55g butter

2tbsp cream

1tsp vanilla extract

1tbsp honey

225g icing sugar

Melt together the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water. Remove from the heat, adding the cream, vanilla and honey. Stir, and then add the sugar bit by bit. When it’s all mixed (you might need to use your hands) roll it out on a lined baking tray and pop it in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours. Cut into squares and, um, try not to eat it all at once?

DSCN0148

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Because this is definitely what you need when it’s a wet, grey Sunday afternoon.

DSCN2019

I haven’t been baking, or indeed concocting confectionery, very much recently. I’m not sure why. I like being in a kitchen, and eating such treats. But in the move from home to Bournemouth, where my partner’s studying for a Master’s, I seem to have left the vast majority of my recipe books behind. Admittedly this is mostly due to the fact that we haven’t nearly enough space for my (rather large) book collection.

I have only my Hummingbird Bakery recipe books with me. However, having slid quite happily into a fairly lazy existence, I decided most of the recipes are too complicated and involved too many ingredients.

So I’ve been lazy. I’ve used a cake mix. Mainly because they were going cheap in Lidl’s, and I’ve been curious for years to see how the cakes actually turn out. And it saved time, of which I clearly haven’t much…

DSCN2000DSCN2014

But anyway. Chocolate Fudge Cake. The only extra ingredients required being 200ml water and 60ml/4tbsps oil. Mix it all together and splodge into a cake-tin to be thoroughly baked for about an hour.

The mix tastes yummy, and it smells wonderfully chocolatey, which is always a good sign.

DSCN2001

 

And, deciding that it wasn’t nearly chocolatey enough, I made chocolate truffle icing to go on top. Well, it wasn’t a proper truffle icing, because the ratios of cream and butter to chocolate were incorrect, but meh. That doesn’t matter.

DSCN2021

Aside from the cake being a little dry, which was probably my fault anyway, it’s not a half-bad cake, for so little effort. Pretty damn good with raspberry meringue ice cream too (thank you, Asda!)

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.