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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Fudge Heaven

Most of us have moments when only something sweet will do and Fudge is a brilliant way to resolve that craving whether your preference is for smooth melting sweetness or a crumbly texture that then melts into unctuous, silky satisfaction.

Helen Beveridge (aka 'The Fudge Fairy') is the woman to turn to when those moments strike.

Starting making fudge at home, after a holiday in Cornwall, Helen rapidly moved into selling through Farmers Markets using only Welsh butter in her little blocks of pleasure. The queues at her stall are deep and demand is high.

It was through selling at Undy Farmers Market that Helen spotted a shop in the village, empty and, until a builder cut back huge Leylandii when doing up a bungalow, invisible. Discovering that it had been a Sweet Shop during the 30’s Helen just had to have it and Fudge Fairy HQ came into being.

Though Helen’s hand-made Fudge is the star of the show she also sells a range of retro sweets and cards and celebration items be it for birthdays, weddings or corporate events.

At its simplest fudge is just Milk, Sugar and Butter, but it is the treatment of the ingredients, the flavouring and stirring and beating that really make the outcome. Helen has developed a great technique that ensures perfect Fudge every time and offers a choice of smooth or crumbly though the vast majority go for smooth.

After meeting Helen’s son Adam who was operating the stall at Undy Farmers Market, and buying two or three packs we headed just up the road to the shop for more.

When you enter a lovely smell of warm sugar meets you and the shelves of multi-coloured sweets take you back to childhood.

Helen was just finishing a batch of her newest flavour Cornish Kiss. I have a feeling that Cornwall is important in Helen’s life,she started the business after a holiday there and had just been again where she discovered Cornish Lust. No not a holiday romance but a Strawberry infused liqueur. Added to a smooth, creamy fudge this gives a subtle Strawberry hint and is a great new addition to the range.

It was this new taste that we wanted to try, partially inspired by Helen using Twitter to inform us all of the development of the Fudge over the week since her return from Cornwall.

Excitement mounted as the fresh fudge was removed from the mould and cut in front of us. Tasters of both the Fudge and the Cornish Lust liqueur confirmed that this was a winner.

Our visit was slightly curtailed by the arrival of two people to discuss and select the Wedding Favours that would be on the table for the Wedding Breakfast, all neatly bagged and sealed with satin ribbons. Not wanting to interfere with Helen’s business we made our exit, saying goodbye to younger son James who was helping behind the counter.

No doubt at all the Fudge Fairy makes excellent fudge, you really have to get along and try some and her shop would delight any child, again well worth a visit.

Though the shop open Tuesday to Saturday is the main focus of Helen’s output she will still have a presence at Farmers Markets and at these shows Magor Square May Day Fayre 7th May (Bank Holiday), Penhow Village Diamond Jubilee Celebration - Date to be confirmed summer 2012, Chepstow Country Show, Usk Show, Magor Frost Fayre. Helen also attended the food event in Cardiff last year and hopefully will be back again.

Helen makes exceptional Fudge and inspired me to make a version at home. This is a quick version that uses Condensed Milk so it’s suitable for home bakers but Helen’s Fudge is undoubtedly smoother.

150g Demarara Sugar
150 ml Milk
115g Butter
395g tin of Condensed Milk
1tsp Vanilla Extract
Mix the Sugar, Butter and Milks together in a pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring all the time and scraping the bottom. (Sugar can stick and burn leaing an unpleasant taste).
Remove from the heat and beat with a spoon for about 10 minutes until it begins to thicken then add the Vanilla and continue to beat for a couple of minutes.
Pour into a greased and lined 9" baking tray and leave to cool, NB cool at room temperature so the sugar does not crystallise
Turn onto a board and cut into squares,

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