Just to completely finish myself off last night with more standing around in the kitchen boiling up sugar, I had another go at the fudge. Success! Not fudged, but fudge!
What I was looking for was something like this, possibly the best fudge in the world. What I made in my second attempt wasn't the best fudge in the world, but was quite good: it had the crumbly texture we like, not sticky or gooey, and best of all it didn't split or burn or end up in the bin....
150ml milk (I used 50ml double cream and 100ml milk, to use up the cream)
50g butter (I used unsalted - again, to use it up - but added a teaspoon of salt flakes)
1tsp vanilla extract
400g sugar (I used a mix of golden caster, and ordinary white granulated)
Put everything together in a pan (use a large, heavy based pan as the mix bubbles up and takes up more than twice its original volume when boiling).
Heat on the lowest heat possible, stirring all the time, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Tip the pan from time to time to check for granules. This will take ages, but don’t be tempted to turn up the heat.
When you are ready, stick in a sugar thermometer – clip it to the side of the pan if possible. Crank up the heat and get the sugar bubbling.
Watch the thermometer like a hawk and turn off the heat as soon as it gets to “soft ball” or 116°C. Stir the boiling sugar mixture occasionally so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom, but be very careful not to get splashes on your skin – use a long-handled wooden spoon! The mixture will have changed colour a little, becoming more golden.
Leave it to cool for 5 minutes (set a timer) then beat the living daylights out of it with your wooden spoon. As soon as it starts to look less glossy, a little grainy around the edges, pour it into a lightly greased 20cm square baking tin. If you wait too long to do this, it will set hard in the pan….spread the mixture to the edges and smooth out as best as you can with a firm spatula or metal spoon. Leave it for about 10 minutes then cut it into squares, then leave again until it is completely cool.
It won’t keep long…
The secret this time round seemed to be boiling it up more carefully, stirring the bottom of the pan. The previous batch seemed to have caught on the bottom, which made it much darker in colour. It had probably overheated which is why the butter separated out...I think the salt might help too...I did spend quite a lot of time on Google trying to work this out...It also has half the butter, so it's better for you. Ha!