The X(mas) Files- Peanut Butter Fudge

Spoiler alert!!!! Friends and family are warned that what you read in this section may well end up under your tree so if you don’t like to know what’s coming, come back here in January. 

Now I’m not one for early Christmas celebrations, I don’t believe in tinsel on the shelves before Halloween decorations or Cliff Richard playing in the shops before the end of November. If ever. But If you like to gift foodie bits as much as you like to nosh them, then one needs to be prepared. Some things it’s only time to start thinking about or practising, other things need to be well on the way now in order to be ready for Yuletide. So let’s go.

Ladies and Gentlemen, here marks the beginning of my Christmas grub projects. You don’t of course have to limit them to December 25th, but they do make wonderful additions to the festive season. Expect in coming weeks some sweets, some booze, my thoughts on the great Christmas dinner and whatever else occurs to me in the times between.

I’ve not made fudge before. I have witnessed others go through very intense sessions of boiling and drop tests and the like only to wail some time later when they were awarded with an intensely thick syrup which wasn’t going to set for anything. I don’t have a sugar thermometer, so I didn’t go there. That made this recipe all the more curious to me as it seemed so simple and so quick. Sceptical, I researched the interweb for reviews or alternative versions and was comforted to find many people touting the same simple method and promising a melt in the mouth luxury treat. They weren’t wrong.

Peanut Butter Fudge
Makes about 45 large pieces

125g unsalted butter
500g dark brown sugar
120ml full fat milk
250g crunchy peanut butter
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
275g icing sugar

Start off with a large, heavy based pan- you will need plenty of room for the mixture to bubble up. Melt the butter over a gentle heat (careful not to boil) then add the milk and brown sugar. As always, I recommend using organic milk and butter if you can. Stir to combine only then turn up the heat until boiling. When you have a rolling boil, stop stirring and let it bubble away for three minutes. No more, no less. It will look like a lake of bubbling evil and smell like bad treacle at this point, don’t panic.Take it off the heat now and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla. I would suggest using a quite creamy peanut butter where you can and avoid the whole food types as they wont give such a smooth finish. Sunpat crunchy will be ideal. Do this step quickly as the fudge will start to solidify as soon as it is off the heat. Once combined, pour this in over the icing sugar which you should have in a separate bowl. Beat this quickly to combine- you’ll need a strong arm as it’s very stiff! The mixture may begin to look a bit dry and frankly unappealing at this point. Keep the faith. It will work. Pour out into a suitable tin lined with greaseproof paper- I use a high sided 8″ cake tin but if you can’t have curves in your fudge go with a loaf tin or even a higher sided baking tray.
Pat it into the tray and smooth the top, set aside to cool for a good twenty minutes before transferring to the fridge to set properly for two to three hours- if you have a silicon type mixing spoon I’d recommend using this for the whole process.
Now if you’re tempted to have a little nibble at this point, and who wouldn’t be, it might not be that impressive and seem a little dry. I was less impressed than I had hoped to be but that was the price I paid for being hasty.
Turn out your set fudge, if it’s not a huge brick of solid sugariness it’s not finished- straight from this fridge it would make a handy weapon. Using a very sharp knife, cut it up and transfer to an air tight container. Once back to room temperature, this stuff is fantastic. And I mean fantastic. I mean sugar headache at ten o clock in the morning because you couldn’t resist two chunks of it before breakfast fantastic.

If you’re making this to gift, it should keep for a couple of weeks but I would make this one later rather than sooner maybe a day or so before giving.  But by all means have a practice round beforehand, just to be sure it’s as good as I have told you. Have it with your coffee or crumbled over some vanilla icecream. Or even before breakfast. Merry Christmas!

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