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Fun Facts to celebrate International Fudge Day!… as well as a fabulous recipe or two

In honour of International Fudge Day, which is celebrated on Wednesday, June 16, here are some fun fudge facts as well as recipes from chef lecturers at Capsicum Culinary Studio.

In the late 17th century, the word fudge meant “to fit together or adjust [clumsily].” Around 1800, the word was used to mean a hoax or cheat and by mid-century the use of the term “Oh, fudge!” as a kid-friendly expletive had come into favour and was often used when something had been messed up. It is believed that the first batch of fudge was created when someone was trying to make caramel and “fudged” up. The name stuck.

While the Americans claim fudge as their own invention, some think it is an offshoot of a confectionary from Scotland called “tablet”, which is made with sugar, condensed milk and butter and was first noted in The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie in the early 18th century.

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The record for the largest slab of fudge in the world weighed over 2 600 kilograms and was crafted at the Northwest Fudge Factory in Ontario, Canada in 2010. It reportedly took a full week to make and, while the ingredients are not available for this record, the previous holder contained 320kg of butter, 1 270kg of chocolate and 1 155 litres of condensed milk.

Mackinac Island, a tiny 9,8km² island in Michigan in the US, considers itself the fudge capital of the world with 14 fudge shops in the town, and the oldest – Murdick’s Candy Kitchen – dating back to 1887. Every August, the island hosts a Fudge Festival, complete with events like Fudge on the Rocks where local bartenders craft fudge cocktails. Festival-goers are referred to as “fudgies.”

The island churns out over 4 535kgs of fudge daily during peak season and fudge makers ship in about 10 tons of sugar and 10 tons of butter each year to create and craft their products.

Mamie Eisenhower, the wife of the 34th US President, Ike Eisenhower (1953-61), was a huge fudge fan and even crafted her own recipe – named Mamie’s Million-Dollar Fudge – which included chopped nuts and marshmallow crème.

Says one expert: “Good fudge is all about the sugar crystals. Big sugar crystals make fudge taste grainy while very tiny sugar crystals result in a creamy, sweet fudge that tastes like …. well … great fudge!”

While there are hundreds of recipes out there, here are these from two Capsicum Culinary Studio chefs.

White Chocolate Fudge ~ Chef Caren Marimuthu, Capsicum Culinary Studio, Durban

Ingredients

125ml white sugar
125ml brown sugar
75ml glucose
140ml double cream
180g good quality white chocolate
40g butter
5ml vanilla paste

Method

Line a flat bottom 10cm x 10cm baking tray with plastic wrap (spray the tray with cooking spray before lining with plastic wrap so that it sticks to the tray without creasing).
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, cook sugar and glucose until softball stage (113°C).
Once the correct temperature is achieved, lower the heat and add the cream, chocolate and butter and mix until the chocolate is completely melted and forms a cohesive mixture.
Stir in the vanilla paste and then pour mixture into a lined tray and allow to cool.
Cut into squares and refrigerate overnight until completely set.

Quick & Easy Microwave Fudge ~ Chef Jaco Page, Capsicum Culinary Studio, Cape Town

Ingredients

1 tin condensed milk
400g sugar
120g butter
15ml vanilla essence

Method

Grease a square dish with butter or Spray and Cook. In a large microwave bowl add condensed milk, sugar and butter and microwave for 2 minutes or until butter has melted. Stir to combine all the ingredients and microwave for another 2 minutes and stir quickly. Repeat 3 times or until golden brown. Stir in vanilla essence and pour into the prepared square dish. Wait until slightly cooled then cut into squares.

Chef’s notes: When adding the vanilla essence, you can also add other options such as Peppermint Crisp, Rolo, toasted nuts or peanut butter to make a more decadent fudge.

If you’d like to have a go at Lady Grisell Baillie’s recipe

Ingredients

1kg granulated sugar
410g tin of condensed milk
100g unsalted butter
half cap full of good quality vanilla extract

Method

Melt butter and vanilla extract then add condensed milk and stir through before adding sugar and stirring well. Bring to the boil slowly stirring most of the time and once it bubbles up leave it boiling while stirring most of the time for around 30-40 minutes until it starts to thicken and turns a darker colour. Then remove from heat and beat well with wooden spoon until thick and pour into baking tray. Cool before marking into squares.

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