Easy Vanilla Fudge requires no special kitchen equipment – just a pan, a timer and a whisk. Creamy and soft, it’s perfect for homemade Christmas gifts
Up until a few years ago, I used to do the majority of my Christmas Shopping on the 24th December – Christmas Eve. I would get up early and drive to York, parking on the outskirts before getting the Park and Ride into town. Most people usually have a particularly violent reaction when I tell them this – recoiling in horror before certifying me as clinically insane.
It is precisely that response which makes it such a good idea to go shopping in York on Christmas Eve. With many fearing the rush of last-minute shopping, most people actively avoid town; bedding themselves in at home to commence the seasonal feasting. Consequently, I have always found York to be a pleasurable and calm place to spend the final day before Christmas.
Brass bands and choirs gather in the square outside Betty’s tearoom. The weather might be perpetually coloured Britannic-Grey, but the abundance of twinkling lights and street food vendors selling everything from mulled wine to roast chestnuts never fails to imbue me with Yuletide spirit. Of course, York is beautiful all year round, but it is effervescent with Dickensian charm at this time of year.
Small shops and independents crowd York. There’s the Nutcracker Christmas Shop (where it is Christmas 365 days a year), The Shop that Must Not be Named (everything for the Harry Potter fan), The Cat Gallery (a purr-fect stop for any cat lover) and The Hebden Tea Company (literally a world of teas and related paraphanalia).
While York has all the usual high street culprits, the world-famous Shambles with its over-hanging timber buildings is where the Olde Worlde charm of York is at its most potent. If you’ve not been fortunate enough to visit before, imagine a real-life version of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. This comparison is no accident as the set designers visited The Shambles several times when they were creating the on-screen Diagon Alley for the films.
In the middle of this magical street sits the shop I must always visit whenever I am in York. The Fudge Kitchen is an artisan fudge maker who make THE creamiest, silkiest fudges I have ever tasted. The shop is tiny at the front, but stretches back to an open kitchen where cooks in Victorian aprons and hats demonstrate their techniques to an adoring public. Copper cauldrons are used to heat and meld the ingredients together before the lava liquid is poured onto a cool marble table to be stretched and moulded into shape.
I love fudge and I’ve tried several fudge recipes – many of which require the studious watching of a thermometer to achieve the right set. Nevertheless, I have always been disappointed with the texture – being too powdery and dry.
All that changed when I developed this recipe. The fudge is creamy and soft – reminiscent of the York fudges I adore so – and requires no specialist kitchen equipment other than a pan, a timer and a hand whisk. It’s a great make in the run up to Christmas, when I wrap cubes in greaseproof paper and pop into small glass jars to give as gifts. I used to flavour it with vanilla extract but now always use Nielsen-Massey’s vanilla bean paste which gently flecks the fudge with tiny beads of vanilla. Even my partner – who doesn’t usually like sweet things – is converted with this recipe.Print
- 410ml can of evaporated milk
- 500g golden granulated sugar
- 180g soft brown sugar
- 170g cubed, unsalted butter
- 75g golden syrup
- 1.5tsp vanilla bean extract
- Line a medium roasting tin (approx. 35 x 25cm) with oiled greaseproof paper – keeping a lip up the sides of the pan.
- Put all of the ingredients except the vanilla bean paste into a heavy saucepan. Stir together and place over a medium heat, stirring regularly until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a rolling boil before setting a timer for 15 minutes. Stir the mix frequently with a wooden spoon, being careful to avoid any splashes – this is hot sugar and will burn.
- When the 15 minutes is up, ask someone to help you tip the fudge syrup into a clean mixing boil, using a spatula to scrape everything into the bowl. Be careful as the liquid is extremely hot.
- Stir in the vanilla bean extract before using an electric handheld whisk to beat the fudge for around 3-5 minutes until the fudge thickens and the beaters create small, tight ripples instead of choppy lines (you will see what I mean when you do this).
- Spread the thickened fudge into the prepare roasting tin, smoothing the top out with the back of a dessert spoon.
- Leave to cool for 1-2 hours before slicing into squares. Keep at room temperature in an airtight tin, or wrap individually in papers before portioning up for gifts.
- Category: Fudge
- Cuisine: British
Keywords: homemade, fudge, vanilla fudge, Nielsen-Massey Vanilla, Vanilla, Christmas gifts, Christmas, Homemade Christmas, Homemade gifts, homemade sweets, sweets, confectionery