Andrea Maunder, locovore, wine expert and pastry chef, is the owner and creative force behind Bacalao, a St. John's restaurant specializing in "nouvelle Newfoundland" cuisine.

My Nan's Fudge

In the spirit of honouring commitments in the New Year, I am making good on the promise I made in my December column to include my grandmother Audrey’s recipe for pink and white fudge this month. Though I have many of Nan’s recipes from the handwritten notebook she started in 1929, this one was absent. So, calling upon my mind’s tastebuds, I created a recipe of which I am sure my nan would approve. It’s the sweet, oldfashioned kind of firm fudge that’s just filled with nostalgia for me.

Making fudge is not particularly difficult, but there are a few tricks to getting the texture right. It should have a pleasantly soft bite, be flaky rather than crumbly, and it should be smooth on your tongue, not grainy. If you’ve ever tasted the grains of sugar in fudge, it means the boil was rushed and the stirring wasn’t right, causing the sugar to crystallize, rather than melt and caramelize. You will need a candy thermometer (or deep fry thermometer) for this recipe. It’s really the best way. There are ways to check by letting a few drops of boiling fudge drop into ice water and checking the texture of the ball that forms, but it’s rather subjective. I would much rather you have success on your very first batch.

Nan’s Pink and White Fudge

  • 3 cups white sugar 
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk (such as Carnation) or coffee cream (never sweetened condensed milk) 
  • 2 tbsp white corn syrup 
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar Pinch of salt 
  • 2 tbsp butter 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup long shred unsweetened coconut 

Few drops of red food colouring Spray an 8"x8" baking tin (like a brownie pan) with nonstick spray or lightly brush with butter. Fit a piece of parchment paper flat in the bottom and up the back and front edges, letting a couple of inches hang over the back and front edges of the pan. Crease it with your fingernail so it fits snugly in the pan with no crumpling. Lightly spray the parchment and bare sides again. 

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the sugar, milk, corn syrup, cream of tartar and salt. Bring it to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Once it comes to the boil, stop stirring and clip on the candy thermometer.

Wash down the sides with a water-dipped pastry brush a few times during the cooking. (If you don’t have a pastry brush, don’t worry. I sometimes skip this step.) When the mixture reaches 234°F, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Add the coconut and beat with a spoon (wooden spoon is best) for a couple of minutes. Pour half the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth out. Tint the remaining fudge by stirring in a few drops of red food colouring and gently pour over the first layer, trying not to disturb it. Smooth the top and set aside to cool and set. At room temperature, it will take about 30 minutes. Check every so often. (I am impatient, so I put mine in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to set it.)

To cut the fudge, you’ll want it to be cooled and set, but not completely cold. If you feel a little warmth on the underside of the pan, that’s perfect. When the fudge is completely set and cold, it crumbles rather than cutting into clean edges. Run an offset spatula or thin knife around the edge of the pan to be sure your fudge doesn’t stick and lift out the whole batch using the overhanging parchment paper as handles. Set it on a cutting board to cut.  Use a long, sharp knife, wiping in between slices. Cut 6 columns across and 6 down to get 36 modest pieces, or 5x5 for a more decadent size.

Allow to cool completely, then package in an airtight tin or container.

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