How we started and what not to do
Rita and I first started talking about setting up a fudge business last summer, 2018. The first thing we did was cook a dozen different flavours in the middle of a broiling heatwave and hold a fudge-tasting session. The fudge didn’t like the heat and refused to set - so our tasters (friends and neighbours) tucked into fudge sauce, rather than actual fudge. Back to the drawing board!
Our first attempts looked lovely, and tasted divine, but were more suited to spreading on toast than eating out of a bag.
It took the summer to perfect the setting. Fudge can be temperamental, or at least my mother’s old family recipe (our special trade secret) makes it so. Our recipe uses a special blend of different sugars and a lot of hand beating (our arms are noticeably more toned than they were nine months ago); it’s also nerve-racking having to simmer liquid fudge at heats well over 200 degrees Fahrenheit — but it’s all worth it to achieve the perfect texture.
Several early attempts set too much, making the fudge dry and crumbly; others were more like fondant.
Sometimes you just can’t hit the sweet spot. We felt like tearing up this impossible recipe and trying a new one! But we tried, tried, and tried again, and eventually perfected the knack.
Now, when the fudge is just right, it’s amazing. It sets smoothly with a patina on top, and a slightly grainier, melt-in-the-mouth layer beneath. As it melts in your mouth, it releases aromas and flavours in a burst of sensation. (Similar to the effect of chocolate melting on your tongue, rather than that when biting straight into it.)
This is especially effective when we make the spiced fudge, using aromatic ingredients such as cardamom or Bengali five-spice, or natural essences such as the essential orange oil we source from Steenberg’s.
And sometimes it comes together effortlessly.
Top tips for making fudge at home
CHECK THE WEATHER Avoid making fudge during a once-in-a-decade heatwave, or in a downpour of rain. The perfect weather for making fudge is dry and cool.
FILL THE SINK Safety tip: if your recipe calls for simmering at high heats, fill the sink with cold water. Never try to scrape fudge splashes off your skin; plunge the splashed hand into water, instead.
MAX-OUT FLAVOUR Use more essences or oils than you think you need! We doubled the amount of cocoa our chocolate fudge recipe called for, and now it’s amazing.
USE A FAN Fudge needs to cool down quickly in order to set. Use an electric fan if it’s a hot day.
STORE IN A TIN Most fudge stores best in an airtight tin in a cool dark place. Refrigeration can make fudge moist and mushy, so we always recommend a tin.
Good luck with your fudge-making. We can’t give you our recipe (my mother still owns the copyright!) but there are plenty on the internet. Or if all the hand-beating and high-heat simmering sounds too much like hard work, you can always obtain perfectly-textured, fully-flavoured fudge from us.