A fondant slab confection, fudge is made by boiling sugar with milk to the ‘soft-ball’ stage, which partially caramelises the sugar. While traditional fudge recipes call for precise measurements and cooking times, they can be difficult to get right at home. Instead, this simple fudge recipe uses condensed milk, while the final product is topped with hazelnuts and chocolate/hazelnut spread (such as Nutella) to deliver a flavouring not dissimilar to beloved Ferrero Rocher chocolates.
While many sweets have ancient origins, fudge is a relatively recent creation. The exact geneses aren’t entirely clear, but it’s generally believed that fudge was created in the United States of America during the late 1800s. Emelyn Battersby Hartridge, a student at Vassar College in New York, is said to have received the recipe from a classmate’s cousin who “fudged” an attempt at making caramel. Fudge then went on to become popular at women’s colleges, mentioned in various historical diaries and letters.
In both the US and the UK, fudge is synonymous with gift shops in tourist hotspots, and is often flavoured. Chocolate fudge is the most popular in the US, while clotted cream, raisin, and toffee are popular in the UK. Given its versatile nature, however, fudge is particularly well suited to a huge number of modern flavour concoctions: cherry and almond, peanut butter and jam, coconut and lime, pistachio and dried cranberry.
Combining condensed milk, butter, and sugar, this fudge recipe is cooked for around 10 minutes and stirred constantly until it reaches the correct temperature. You can use a digital thermometer, or drop a small piece into a glass of very cold water to test, then after a short cooling period vanilla extract is vigorously mixed into the fudge until it firms slightly. Once cooled in a lined baking tin for three hours at room temperature, or an hour in the fridge, the plain fudge is ready to eat. The ‘Ferrero Rocher’ fudge flavouring then comes from drizzling with chocolate/hazelnut spread and studding the mixture with roasted hazelnuts.
- Baking tin, roughly 20cm square
- Baking sheet
- Lint free tea towel
- Instant read thermometer (not essential)
- 80 g unsalted butter
- 397 g tin condensed milk
- 2 tbsp hazelnut/chocolate spread such as Nutella
- 100 g hazelnuts
- 150 g light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Sea salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas 4 and place the hazelnuts on a large baking tray in a single layer, roast for 10 minutes. They should be finished a few minutes before the fudge.
- While the hazelnuts are roasting, line a 20cm baking tin with baking paper and place a glass of cold water in the fridge, this will be used to test the fudge temperature later. Also lay a lint free tea towel out on a counter as this will also be used later.
- In a large, non-stick saucepan combine the condensed milk, butter, and sugar. Over medium/low heat bring this mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to avoid the mixture catching.
- Continuously stir the fudge for 10 minutes, adjusting the temperature as needed to avoid burning. Take care as the mixture will be extremely hot. During this time quickly remove the nuts from the oven and place on the tea towel, wrap the tea towel around them and leave them to steam for a few minutes.
- After 10 minutes of stirring, test the fudge by dropping a small piece into the cold glass of water. The piece should drop to the bottom of the glass and form a ball or tear shape. Alternatively, the temperate should have reached 113C (soft ball stage). Set aside the fudge to cool for a few minutes.
- At this point the nuts will be ready to husk. Rub the nuts inside the tea towel until their skins fall off (don’t worry about all of them coming off, just the majority).
- Add the vanilla extract to the fudge and vigorously stir until the mixture firms up a little. This will take around 2-3 minutes. While you do this, microwave the hazelnut/chocolate spread for 10-15 seconds, just until it melts. (If you don’t have a microwave, melt in a heat-proof bowl over a small pan of water).
- Pour the fudge into the lined baking tin and using the back of a metal spoon, push the fudge into an even layer. Drizzle over the hazelnut/chocolate spread and evenly place the hazelnuts on top, push them into the fudge a little so they don’t move. Finish with a generous pinch of sea salt.
- Leave to set for 3 hours at room temperature, or 1 hour in the fridge before slicing into squares.