Vintage Vanilla Christmas

Okay. Okay, I know it’s been far too long, I have so crazy busy with work and getting ready for the holidays. But! I’ve finally given myself a kick up the bum and i’m getting a new post out!

So, wow, it really is almost Christmas! I usually gauge the season as to when my best friend finishes her Christmas shopping, but as she’d already finished by mid-November, I chose to ignore it and go with the ol’ reliable Coco-Cola ad first screening trick. My second trigger was because me and my friend shared a Christmas stall a few days ago. She was on the cupcake front and I mostly just tornado’ed around my kitchen and tried to think of every traditional holidays-based food that exists. I ended up making a behemoth portion of gingerbread stars (yay!), vanilla fudge and some ginger-treacle cake. All of which will be provided for you Christmas stash, don’t you worry!

Now, don’t judge me, the reason I went for relatively plain was because the stall I sold on was a children’s event, so I didn’t want anything too eccentric. Also, it was the first time I’d made fudge, it was a bit of an odd experience really. The general idea is that you melt sugar and butter, mixed with some ratio of milk/cream/evaporated milk and then your flavour. It is meant to melt into a thick, but non-grainy liquid, and slowly get thicker as it reaches the soft ball stage (which is about 112C-115C), you take it off the heat, wait a few minutes, stir in your ingredients, stir for ten minutes to control the setting of the crystals and then pour it into the tin to set. 

That said, I had a bit of a melt down half way through when the sugar-mixture almost bubbled over the top of my pan, then I couldn’t get the mixture up to temperature, even on my highest heated hob. I ended up giving up, pouring it into the pan anyhoo and keeping every crossed that by some baking miracle, it would set by the morning. I got out of bed eagerly to see the following morning, had it set? Not even a little bit. It came out like a very thick fudge sauce, a very tasty, and smooth vanilla fudge sauce, but a sauce nonetheless. I sat at my kitchen table mulling over what I could do, the stall wasn’t until the following day, so I had time. I was running through everything from just selling it as fudge sauce, to making it an icing and serving it with cake. I ended up doing neither of these options, I heated it back up to temperature in a slightly different pan. And it worked, huzzah. It set beautifully and tasted pretty damn, if you don’t mind me saying so! It’s wonderfully smooth and just the right amount of sugar! 

Lesson learned for the day: The pan you make your fudge in is really important! Make sure you choose a pan that is big enough to hold at least double the liquid in your pan. But you need to choose a pan that isn’t too wide, or the heat will escape too fast, and it won’t reach the temperature you need! (that was my problem!) 

There are so many recipes I could put down here for Christmas, but honestly, this is one of the best new things I’ve tried for ages! Paired with the fact that it works really well if you’re making hampers for Christmas, want to share it with your family or you just love fudge. 

You don’t necessarily need a sugar thermometer to make this, but it does help to be exact! I’ll put in directions for both though so don’t you worry!

Vintage Vanilla Fudge
100ml Double cream
700g caster sugar
200g butter
1/2 large can condensed milk
300ml milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

– Grease and line a cake tin, it can be any shape you like, but be logical. If you want big thick pieces of fudge (oh geez…these descriptions are going to get awkward very quickly!), use a smaller tin, if you want to make it go a little further, or want slightly thinner pieces, use a bigger tin.
– Pour the condensed milk into a jug, and make it up to 500ml (you may need a little more or a little less milk)
– Put the cream, sugar, milk mixture and butter into a saucepan and heat it up slowly. Keep stirring it constantly and don’t stop, I know some recipes say not to touch it at all, but stirring it really helps!
– If you’re using a sugar thermometer, let the mixture get up to the soft ball stage (115C or  239F), then take it off the heat. If you don’t have a thermometer, bring the mixture slowly up to a boil and keep it at a boil it for about five minutes, constantly stirring it to make sure it doesn’t catch. 
– After it’s been taken off the heat, keep stirring it, helping it to cool. After a few minutes, add in the vanilla and keep stirring it for a further ten minutes. You don’t have to really to beat it so you’re out of breath, but keep stirring it! 
– After about 10 minutes, pour it into a tin, flatten it with the back of a spatula and leave it to set. Do not put it in the fridge. Never ever ever! Keep it just somewhere cool and away from the sunshine.
– Leave it to cool and slice it up!

And there you go! It really is very simple to make. If you keep it wrapped up, it will last well for a few weeks as well, so you could make it next week, ready for Christmas. Everybody appreciates a little home-made touch to presents.  Even if you don’t do entirely home-made hampers, it’s a cute little addition!

Hope you’re not getting too chilly!