Making Vegan Christmas Speculoos Fudge at The Fudge Kitchen, Canterbury
So, we’ve arrived in last minute territory. There are organised people like my mother who have Christmas gifts sorted months in advance, then there are normal people like me, and probably you too. However, some gifts are best left to the last minute. Back in the beginning of December I was invited to spend an hour with the guys in Canterbury’s Fudge Kitchen store learning about their delicious handmade fudge (really, it is all handmade by the in-store teams, either if you’re buying directly from their shops in Canterbury, Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Windsor and York, or in their team kitchen just outside Canterbury) It’s best given fresh as a gift (so head into store now for a gift box – you get to choose which flavours to include) and they also offer brilliant, in-store fudge making experiences which I got to try (read on!) which are great to give as gifts.
Aside from the fact it is both bloody difficult and excellent fun to make fudge the traditional way, the biggest thing I was surprised to learn during my visit was both how much vegan fudge they actually sell, and that on the most part, I actually preferred the vegan flavours! Almost half their store is full of vegan fudge made in the traditional way with a mix of coconut and soy milks (depending on flavour) and when I brought a mixed box home I did not tell anyone that some of the flavours were vegan – and they all went down a storm. In case you were wondering, my favourite flavours were the vegan belgian chocolate swirl, the Irish cream and the vegan coconut fudge, predominantly not any of the sweeter, supposedly richer classic varieties which I found a bit much.
So, how exactly do you make fudge? Well, you start by heating a whole load of different sugars, something creamy, and something tasty together in a traditional copper pan to 240 degrees. As it’s Christmas, we decided to make one of their festive bestsellers, a batch of their vegan speculoos fudge, which along with some soy milk and festive spices is made with granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, invert sugar, glucose and dextrose. Then, once it is up to temperature two people much stronger than me pour it out onto a cool marble slab, stopped from flowing over the side by metal bars to cool for around 10 minutes until it is cool enough to handle.
Next came the tricky bit, actually turning a slab of creamy, spicy molten sugar (the whole store was smelling bloody incredible at this point) into a mammoth piece of fudge ready to slice into individual slabs. You see, the more you work the fudge, the smoother it gets. To work the fudge, you need strength. I still think I did pretty well, but my effort, while delicious, I think was on the crumblier side compared to the other fudge I sampled!
First, you want to cool the fudge to encourage it to crystallise, and at the same time start to draw it into the middle of the marble slab. Using the big scraper thing with a long handle (okay okay, I should have been taking better notes, but making fudge is actually really intense, as well as super fun!) to bring the fudge in the middle. Putting most of your weight behind it, you need to push the fudge from each corner into the middle, moving around the slab to make sure your getting things even. Then, when the sugar is starting the get white, fudgy streaks in it, you switch to a smaller scraper. Working all the way along one edge, then the other of what is now a messy, long spoldge of sugar, you need to fold the fudge into the middle at a slight angle. And first, you won’t see how what you’re doing is going to result in fudge, but the sugar is solidifying the whole time, and by the time you’ve finished your first turn around the marble slab, a long snake of fudge will have started to emerge!
Then, once the fudge has hardened up so much you can’t fold it into the middle anymore, it’s time to slice which is both really satisfying, and for me, what really frustrating because I’d been rather good at this whole fudge making thing so far, and I was not quite getting the right angle at the end so that my nice, smooth slices were getting broken at the bottom! However, the guys were patient with me and my dogged perseverance, and I got it eventually, saving the very best slabs of my (slightly crumbly) fudge to take home with me.
Gift the gift of fudge this Christmas: you can find your nearest Fudge Kitchen to go pick a box (and get to try a load of fudge while you’re making your selections!) here, book a Fudge Experience to do what I did, and try your hand at making your own fudge in store here (and get 15% off your booking using the code EAR2EAR!), or simply get a Fudge Kitchen e-voucher to send to a friend a bit further afield here!
Massive thanks again to Fudge Kitchen Canterbury for inviting me along for a fudge-filled afternoon!