Patience and science make for great candy!
One of my fondest childhood memories is that of making fudge with my maternal grandmother, whose much-used fudge pan I was recently gifted by my mother, who’s also a fantastic cook. Grammy taught me that the two secrets to great fudge are patience and a good candy thermometer (unless, like her, you’re an alchemist who can divine the stages of candy making with just a bowl of cold water). Though it was decades ago, I vividly recall the sound of her heavily-laden charm bracelet jangling wildly as she vigorously beat the fudge mixture for 10 minutes by hand with a wooden spoon, willing it to undergo the magical transformation that makes fudge unique from other candies. Here’s a great article that explains the sugar science behind fudge, in case you’re interested. I like my fudge unadorned, but you could easily add toasted, chopped walnuts to this mixture if you like, or press walnut halves into the fudge once you’ve put it in the pan for hardening. My husband thinks chopped, cooked bacon would also be a great addition! I recommend cutting this fudge into very small squares as it’s quite rich and decadent.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (22.5 mL) salted butter
- 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (60 mL) maple syrup
- 3/4 cup (185 mL) whipping cream
- pinch baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) maple extract
- Lightly butter the bottom and corners of a 7×7 or 8×8 inch baking pan. Line the pan with two criss-crossed overlapping pieces of parchment paper cut just wide enough to fill the bottom of the pan and long enough to hang out over the sides. Set aside.
- Lightly butter a metal or heatproof bowl (the bowl of a stand mixer is ideal for this, if you have one) and set aside.
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Swirl the melted butter so it coats the sides of the pan, about 3 inches (7.5 cm) up from the bottom.
- Add brown sugar, whipping cream, maple syrup and a generous pinch of baking soda. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil and let cook without stirring, until mixture reaches 238F (the middle temperature of the soft boil stage) on a digital instant-read or candy thermometer.
- Immediately pour the very very very hot candy syrup into the buttered bowl. Place in the fridge (or outdoors, in winter time) and let cool, swirling bowl occasionally, until the mixture reaches 125F.
- Add the vanilla and maple extracts and beat the mixture (using your stand mixer, a sturdy electric mixer or your own strong hands and wooden spoon), until it loses most of its glossiness and starts to take on a more granular form, about 10 minutes.
- With a sturdy spatula, transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan, smoothing down the top to even it out.
- Let stand at room temperature until hardened (about one hour).
- Lift out of the pan using the parchment paper ‘handles’ that extend over the sides and transfer to a cutting board.
- Cut into small squares. Store fudge in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days or in the fridge for up to a month.
Makes several dozen pieces of fudge, depending upon how large you cut them.