Ever since I was little I’ve had an appreciation for fudge. Although, as I was so endearingly named “the garbage truck” by my sisters at the ripe old age of 2, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve had an appreciation for all food since I was little. But there’s a history of fudge in my family. You could almost say there’s a story. There isn’t, but I’m going to make it sound interesting!
My grandmother has absolutely no Russian heritage whatsoever, yet was obsessed with everything Russian. To be honest, I have no idea why. She grew up in the 1930s and 40s, at which time (to my knowledge), Russia was not exactly the most lovely place on earth. But I suppose love is blind, right? And there was no stopping this love affair. As children we even called her by a Russian name! Of course, I never thought twice about this, plenty of people call their grandmothers nonna or oma. Yet, one day I realised that not many people called their grandmother by a Russian name. To this day I still don’t know what the obsession was – I’m not sure if anyone knows! Perhaps it was the glittering recollections of Imperial Russia with all its splendour – but she was too young to remember any of that – the Tsars were long gone by 1930! But maybe it seemed to shine brighter (and therefore closer) than the bleak Irish history she might have grown up with, having Irish heritage. Who knows! Point is, she loved Russia. I know this because we have a recipe of hers entitled Russian Fudge, and as far as I know it’s the only form of fudge that has ever been made in our house, maybe even consumed!
I find this curious however, as I always thought fudge was American. But then I realised that there was such as thing as Scottish Tablet (a type of fudge), which made me think it was British. And now someone’s telling me that there’s Russian fudge? It’s too much, I can’t handle it. Enter the wiki.
Wiki says that American-style fudge dates back as far as 1886. Indeed, the first page of Google results seem to claim fudge as an American invention – and very proudly so! So then, what of Scottish tablet? Apparently, Tablet differs from fudge in that it has a brittle, grainy texture, where fudge is much softer. Well-made tablet is a medium-hard confection, not as soft as fudge, but not as hard as hard candy. – That’s what Wiki says.
So in that case, American fudge must be soft, gooey fudge. In my book, that’s not real fudge…but I am just a poor, lonely soul, (I’m not) who knows very little about confectionary – I think I’ll just keep my (very) strong opinions (about confectionary?) to myself.
In my mind, real fudge is tablet. It’s grainy and crumbly, not smooth and soft. But I can definitely see the appeal of smooth and soft fudge! I may be a believer yet.
So that solves the classic British/American debacle. But what about Russian fudge?! Apparently it’s not Russian at all. According to the entire internet (yes, I really did look at all 324,000 results), Russian fudge is just a type of tablet that has golden syrup in it.
So there we go. Any sort of dreamy Russian-related fudgey bubble we were building was just seismically popped. But the good news? Fudge exists. It really does. In the world. Right now. On probably every continent (in some form? Too hopeful?). So get out there and eat it!
In other news, here’s the recipe I use. It’s great. You should try it sometime. Do it.
aka. Scottish Tablet with some golden syrup.
1 can condensed milk
425g white sugar
25ml golden syrup
(if you’re feeling especially jovial, you could also add a dash of whiskey or some such liquor)
- Place sugar and water in a large saucepan. Stir over a low heat (I mean really low – I usually have the smallest jet turned all the way down) until the sugar has dissolved. Make sure the syrup doesn’t boil yet!
- Add the butter and syrup and stir until the butter has melted.
- Add the condensed milk and stir until it comes to the boil. Then boil very slowly on a low heat (again, as low as you can), stirring often, until it reaches soft ball stage (114C) or slightly hotter. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, try to do it by eye: after about 10 minutes the mixture will darken to a light caramel colour and will be bubbling away happily. Basically, cook it until you’re happy with the colour of the caramel. The more you cook it the more crumbly it will be – so if you under cook it, it’ll just be a bit more sticky, which is no drama!
- Remove from the stove and beat with a wooden spoon for 5-10 minutes until it starts to thicken and cool – beating the fudge will help with the texture of the fudge. Also add the afore-mentioned liquor here if you’re using it.
- Pour into a lined 20x20cm pan and leave to cool, then cut into squares or rectangles.