Friday, 12 December 2014

Foodie Friday - An Introduction To Calico Cottage Fudge

Just say the word fudge and instantaneously I'm transported back to my childhood. In the run up to Christmas my mum used to make all sorts of sweets from peppermint creams, to coconut ice, rum truffles and one of my favourite ever things - fudge! I love fudge, and whilst I'm pretty partial to a box of Thorntons Chocolate Smothered Fudge and the odd finger of Fudge, nothing beats the taste of homemade fudge.

If I'm being honest though it is a bit of a faff, for most recipes you need a sugar thermometer, and even if your a seasoned fudge maker like my mum, it can sometimes go wrong and you end of with tablet or even something almost toffee like. There are some simpler recipes out there but a couple of years ago now I discovered a way of making yummy fudge, quickly, and easily and with very little risk.

If you've been reading my blog for a while now then you'll already know that I'm a bit of a QVC addict. Once upon a time people would scoff at shopping from the TV, but shopping from your armchair is now pretty much the accepted norm. I love the ease and the convenience of it all and I love the choice and array of products on show. From beauty products, to candles, jewellery and bedding we've bought it all but did you know that QVC actually sell food, with the same 30 day money back guarantee as the rest of their products?

Of course you did, you've read my Easi Yo post :) but yes, you can buy a box of chocolates from Thorntons, some popcorn from Joe and Sephs, or some pies from The Real Pie Company, all via QVC and if you don't like them you can send them back. I know this is probably sounding a bit like a paid or sponsored post but I can assure you it's not, I'm just a huge, huge QVC fan. As well as ready made food items, QVC  often sell a variety of make it yourself products, including Easi Yo, make your own cheese kits, and a range of products from a company called Calico Cottage. 

Calico Cottage are one of the biggest suppliers of fudge and fudge making ingredients in the UK. Their fudges are sold in theme parks, and tourist attractions throughout the country, not under the Calico name, but they're the company that more often than not will have made the fudge that you take home to remember your day out.

A few years ago now QVC started selling Calico Cottage fudge making kits, and being the curious beasts that we are, me and Mummy Lou ordered one. The first purchase triggered a bit of an obsession and over the years we've purchased several of their kits.

From the original Vanilla, Chocolate and Caramel varieties, you can now buy kits to make Red Velvet, Sticky Toffee Pudding, and Salted Caramel fudges, and even fudges with added extras such as jelly beans and honeycomb.

Each kit comes with an instruction and recipe book, as well as a ickle plastic spoon, a reusable cardboard tray, and several liners.

You can make the fudge in a pan but it's much easier and quicker to use a microwave. The method is identical no matter what flavour your using. All you do is put 30g of butter into a large bowl, then depending on what flavour of fudge your making, you add differing amounts of water. The instruction book tells you exactly how much you need. Here I'm making Salted Caramel, so it need 7 spoonfuls of cold water, which you measure out using the spoon provided.

Then you pop it into the microwave for about a minute. You don't want to boil it you just want the butter to melt into the water.

Then you add the entire bag of fudge mix

and give it a stir.

Your mix will look way too dry but don't panic pop into the microwave for another 30 seconds

Give it another stir, it will probably still look dry and powdery, so give it another 30 seconds

Keep stirring and, putting it in for 30 seconds at a time and eventually the texture and colour will change to something dark, and glossy and more like runny fudge.

You want it to be pretty smooth but you don't want to boil.

When it's done pour it into your tray, smooth it out and leave it. You don't need to refrigerate it, just leave it to cool at room temperature.

After an hour or so, your fudge will be set

Turn it out and then chop it into squares or slices, and keep it in a cool, dry place but there is no need to refrigerate. This fudge doesn't seem to go off, all it does is dry out a bit. If it does just pop it in the microwave to soften it up, and it's as good as new.

I'm not sure how well you can see the texture here but this is a gorgeous, moist crumbly fudge. With the Salted Caramel, the richness of the flavour really comes out but it's counteracted with just a hint of saltiness.

All of the fudges I've tried taste amazing as they are but you can have a play, and add different colourings and flavourings, and even things such as chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit or other sweets.
Some of the fudges such as Red Velvet and the Vanilla can also be made with cream cheese instead of butter and layered to give a different texture and more of a dessert feel. When your making the fudge you can also alter how much water you add to make a fudge sauce, and you can also make a softer fudge which you can mold or use almost like a roll out icing.

I have to say I was sceptical at first but this really does what it promises. The fudge is tasty and very moreish, and it is so, so simple to make - it is pretty much foolproof. I think that this would be a great activity to do with little ones in the school holidays or even as a birthday party activity. The kits start at around £15 on QVC which does sound a little bit expensive but each kit makes around 8 generous trays. Calico Cottage also do various other sweet making kits, as well as cookie making kits and kits which contain something called Chocolate Fudge Pie, which is a gorgeous gluten free, squidgy brownie like dessert. 

If your scared of sweet making and baking I think that these kits are a great introduction, and whilst I've got my mum a copy of Sweets Made Simple for Christmas, I can see us continuing to purchase more Calico Cottage kits in the future. You can see their current range of kits on the QVC website here, and you can find out more about Calico Cottage on their own website. Are you a fudge fan? Leave me a comment and let me know x 

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