This is another fantastic textured fudge recipe, but in a whole different way to the Condensed Milk Fudge.
It is made with whisked egg-whites and a hot sugar syrup, beaten to grain the sugar. The result is a dazzlingly white, almost marshmallow appearance. The magic, however, happens when you take a bite. Just like it’s namesake, Sea Foam Fudge melts away like a whisper.
It is positively ethereal. Which is why it needs a jolly great handful of cranberries, apricots and a few chopped nuts for zing and colour and a bit of texture. Some Yuletide flotsam, to be carried into your mouth on a cushion of sea foam, if you will. Or not. I tend to get a bit carried away with my extended metaphors.
In the US I believe this is called Divinity and lacks the fruit, but also veers dangerously (for my not-very-sweet-tooth) towards the soft and nougat-y.
As with meringues, this will absorb moisture if left uncovered, so pack into a ziplock bag for personal indulgence, or shiny, crackly cellophane if gifting as presents.
This comes from a delightful book in my collection – Sweet-Making For All by Helen Jerome, originally published in 1924. Just as with Ms Nell Heaton, I have great confidence in Ms Jerome’s recipes, which are always clear and straightforward. If you come across any of their books, I can highly recommend them.
450g white granulated sugar
60g golden syrup or glucose
2 large egg whites
50g chopped nuts – pistachios are colourful, almonds keep things pale
50g chopped dried apricots
50g chopped cranberries – dried or candied
1tsp vanilla extract or 1tbs rum
Line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment.
Put the sugar, syrup and water into a pan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved.
Bring to a boil and continue to heat until the syrup reaches 130°C. Do not stir.
When the temperature of the syrup reaches 120°C, start whisking the egg-whites until stiff. The temperature of the sugar syrup will rise relatively quickly, so keep an eye on each. Or get a glamorous assistant to help.
Still whisking, pour the hot syrup slowly into the whisked egg-whites, as if making Italian meringue, and continue beating until the mixture begins to thicken and lose its gloss. Add the flavouring whilst whisking.
When the mixture has lost its high sheen and thickened slightly add the fruit and nuts and continue beating until the mixture has thickened further and becomes cloud-like. NB This might happen suddenly, so be prepared.
Smooth your Sea Foam into the tin. Alternatively, roll lightly into logs about 2cm in diameter Try not to squash out the air you’ve just whisked in as you do so. Wearing latex gloves or dusting your hands with cornflour, or both – will help.
Cover lightly and allow to cool completely. If you can enclose your tin in a large ziplock bag to protect from humidity, so much the better.
When cold, cut into squares and/or dip into tempered chocolate. Store in an airtight container.
 The glucose will keep the fudge startlingly white, the golden syrup will add a very pale golden hue.
It is the original fudge recipe that used to be posted on the Carnation website and for some reason was taken down a few years ago.
Luckily for me – and you – I have it ingrained on my brain as it is the best, no-fail recipe I have ever used, and I am posting it here so I can be lazy and just point everyone who asks for the recipe here, instead of writing it out again and again.
It makes the kind of fudge that has texture: when cooled, it is hard to bite into – yet it melts in the mouth. Very similar to the confection known in Scotland as Tablet.
The secret is two-fold: boiling the mixture to the correct temperature, and beating it as it cools to ‘grain’ the sugar.
You CAN make this the Old School way, testing for the Firm Ball stage by doing the drop test in water, and by beating the cooling mixture hard with a wooden spoon. However, I’m all for using gadgets wherever possible, so a thermapen or similar thermometer and an electric whisk or stand mixer are my recommendations.
Each batch makes a 1.2kg slab large enough to last over the festive season. Alternatively, you can make a batch and divide it up into small batches in clear plastic bags and use it for presents, or make two batches of contrasting flavours and make it go even further.
You can use the basic recipe to make a number of equally delicious variations, and I’ve thrown in an extra one by Nell Heaton – a favourite author of mine from the 1940s/1950s, who deserves greater recognition for her delicious, trustworthy recipes – which is a real explosion of flavour when made with home-made candied peel, fruit and nuts.
1 x 397ml tin of sweetened, condensed milk
450g Demerera sugar
Line a baking pan with parchment. The size of the pan doesn’t really matter, but I recommend a rectangular pan, for ease of cutting the fudge into cubes once cooled. The original recipe suggested a pan 18cm square, which will make for a small, very thick slab. Personally, I use a pan 30cm by 24cm
Put all of the ingredients into a pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to the boil and stir continuously until it registers between 116°C and 120°C on a thermometer dipped into the centre of the pan. Make sure the tip of the thermometer doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan, as this will be much hotter and the thermometer will thus give a false reading.
When your fudge reaches temperature, remove from the heat and allow the bubbles to settle. Pour into your stand mixer and use the beating paddle (not the whisk) to beat slowly until the mixture thickens. Alternatively, use your electric hand mixer directly into the pan, also whisking until the mixture has thickened.
When it is thick and still just pourable, tip it into your parchment-lined tin and smooth over.
Leave to cool completely.
When cold, cut into cubes with a sharp knife and store in an airtight box.
Rum and Raisin Fudge: Warm 115g raisins in 3-4tbs dark rum and leave to plump. Add just before beating.
Chocolate Fudge: Melt 170g dark, 60% chocolate and add just before beating.
Fruit and nut fudge: Stir in 85g mixed dried fruit and chopped nuts.
Nell Heaton’s Tutti Frutti Fudge (my favourite) Add 350g – yes, a whopping 12 ounces in old money – of mixed chopped nuts, dried fruit and candied peel sliced or diced small. I suggest about 90g candied peel, 130g flaked or slivered almonds and chopped walnuts, and 130g mixed raisins, sultanas, cranberries and chopped apricots.
Here’s another recipe that can, be part of a home-made Christmas, either for nibbling at home or prettily wrapped in cellophane as a gift, or indeed any suitable gift-giving time.
It can also be customised in a number of ways, as I shall detail below, be it in the ingredients you choose or the finishing touches you employ.
Cinder toffee is a traditional UK sweetie recipe which has been around for centuries, and early recipes can be found in household manuscript books from the reign of Charles II. Recently, it has seen a return to popularity under the name Honeycomb Toffee. Whilst a more appetising name, perhaps, unless you actually make it with honey, it is, to my mind, a bit misleading, whereas you have only to glance at the Wikipedia page for cinder to see that the appropriateness is evident in both looks and definition.
The toffee is made by bringing a mixture of sugars to the Hard Crack stage and then quickly stirring in a small amount of bicarbonate of soda to produce effervescence. The mixture is then poured into a suitably prepared tin and as it cools, the air bubbles are trapped in the sugar, thus giving it its distinctive structure.
Having read numerous recipes online, it is fairly safe to say that the most popular combination of sugars is caster sugar and golden syrup. This gives a bright, golden toffee reminiscent of the insides of a modern Crunchie bar. Whilst delicious, the flavour is, however, very one-note, and extremely sweet, and I got to pondering how it might be improved.
I found a recipe in F.Marian McNeil’s The Scots Kitchen (1929) for Black Man, a version of cinder toffee made with treacle, and kin to the Yellow Man of Northern Ireland. Made solely with treacle and bicarbonate of soda, it would definitely have the dark, bubbled appearance of genuine cinders, however in experimentation, the treacle proved exceedingly bitter as well as being much too easily burnt.
I liked the idea of using more complex flavourings to make the toffee and so I have come up with a base recipe for cinder toffee, with suggestions of how to adjust it for variety and interest. By varying the sugars and syrups, the range of flavours can be quite extensive and with more time at my disposal, I believe similar subtleties could also be achieved using honey as the liquid sugar. Feel free to experiment yourself!
Base Recipe Components
Choose your main flavouring from either the solid sugars or the liquid sugars. For example, malt extract and caster sugar, Demerera sugar and golden syrup. Both together, e.g. treacle and dark muscovado, is too dark and will burn to bitterness.
Solid sugar: This can range from fine, white, caster sugar, granulated sugar, soft light brown, soft dark brown, Demerera, light muscovado, dark muscovado all the way through to molasses sugar. The varying degrees of colour have a bearing on the eventual flavour which becomes richer and more caramelised the darker you go.
Liquid sugar: Any sweet syrup liquid at room temperature can be used including golden syrup, molasses, maple syrup, treacle, agave nectar, malt extract, honey.
Butter – for richness
water – to help dissolve the sugar
cream of tartar/liquid glucose – to help prevent crystallisation
bicarbonate of soda – for the bubbles! This recipe only uses a teaspoon, which, if properly stirred through, is more than enough to produce sufficient bubbles. Using more will produce more vigorous frothing, however, it will also become more noticeable in the flavour of the toffee, as well as being trickier to stir through without clumping.
Plain: Cinder toffee is delicious in it’s simple, unadorned state, but will absorb moisture from the air if left exposed. Once cooled, it should be stored in an airtight box or ziplock bag to keep from becoming sticky.
Dipped in chocolate: To keep the toffee crisp without the need for airtight storage, you can dip pieces in melted chocolate and set aside to cool. Although this will serve admirably, it will have a tendency to melt in the hand. The solution is to temper the chocolate, instructions for which abound on the internet. Whilst milk chocolate is the most popular pairing, you can experiment with a whole range of flavours from white through to the extremely dark. The sweetness of the cinder toffee made with caster sugar and golden syrup can be offset to a certain extent by dipping in dark (at least 60% cocoa) chocolate, not to mention the very pleasing contrast of the golden toffee against the dark chocolate. Similarly, the bitterness of treacle cinder toffee can be lightened by the use of white chocolate flavoured with lemon zest.
Made into cinder coal: This is the most fun. By tossing the chocolate-coated cinder toffee pieces into some black caster sugar, they immediately become, to all intents and purposes, little pieces of sweet coal, and thus the embodiment of their name.
How to make black sugar
The intense colour provided by modern gel food colouring is ideal for creating vibrant coloured sugar. Although we’ll only be using black the principal is the same for making any shade of coloured sugar.
1tsp black food gel colouring
200g caster sugar.
Pour the sugar into a small zip-lock bag and add the food colouring gel.
Seal the bag and gently massage the sugar against the gel. It will gradually take on an intense colour whilst still remaining separate grains.
Continue massaging the sugar until it is evenly coloured throughout. If the shade is too light, add a little more gel and repeat the massaging motion.
The coloured sugar will keep in the ziplock bag for weeks.
110g caster sugar
30g unsalted butter
2tbs cold water
1 pinch cream of tartar or 1/2tsp glucose
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
Line a roasting tin with parchment paper.
Put all of the ingredients except the bicarbonate of soda into a non-stick saucepan and warm gently until the sugar has dissolved.
Increase the heat until the sugars boil. Continue heating without stirring until the syrup registers 150°C on a thermometer.
Tip in the bicarbonate of soda and mix briskly for 5 seconds, ensuring the powder is well incorporated.
Pour the frothing mixture onto the baking parchment in the tin and leave to cool. You can speed this up (and thereby trap more bubbles in the toffee) by putting it into the freezer for 15 minutes.
When completely cold, tap gently to break into bite-sized pieces.
To cover with chocolate
Melt or temper 200g of your chocolate of choice.
Drop pieces of cinder toffee into the melted chocolate and use a fork to lift them out.
Tap the fork briskly on the side of the chocolate bowl in order to shake off excess chocolate.
Lay the coated pieces on parchment paper to set.
Store in an airtight container.
To make cinder toffee coal
Whilst still wet, drop the chocolate coated pieces into the black sugar and toss to coat.
Lift out the coated pieces and lay onto a wire rack until set.
When completely cold, toss the pieces of coal gently in a wire sieve to remove excess sugar.
Store in a ziplock bag or wrap in cellophane bags for presents.