November is world vegan month. To celebrate, I’m going to write all about fudge. Vegan fudge. Smooth, silky, delicious, wonderful fudge. You see, I was invited by The Fudge Kitchen Edinburgh to come and taste and make fudge with them, an opportunity I seized with both hands. This is the tale of one fudge maker, their method and the wonderful vegan flavours they produce.
I grew up with toffee – hard and soft – and only had fudge if I somehow messed up toffee making: after all, it’s very much the same ingredients, but different temperatures and timings. Toffee, tablet and fudge have a lot in common. You take sugars and fat and turn it into something endlessly toothsome. The difference lies in which sugars and fats and the method.
The Fudge Kitchen started making vegan fudge about five years ago when they notice an increasing number of people coming in and asking about it. Taking what they knew about sugar and dairy, they experimented with a variety of plant-based fats and came up with several flavours.
Dark chocolate and sea salt is an absolute triumph. I can maybe tell that there was a difference between the vegan and the dairy version when I try them side by side (oh, but I’m not sure, let me have another taste…) but I couldn’t tell you which one was which. Both are the best fudge ever. Or does that title go to the vegan salted caramel? It’s a difficult choice. I oscillate. They are both perfect. They are both made with soya cream. There’s also a vegan coconut, which I didn’t expect to like but indeed really did, and a belgian chocolate and vanilla. These are made with coconut cream and are just as lovely as you’d expect. I just happen to favour the salted flavours.
Work it, you can do it!
The Fudge Kitchen offers a fudge experience in which a friend and I helped make dark chocolate and sea salt fudge. This fudge, you see, is lovingly hand-made, hand-worked and hand-cut.
First, sugars, fats and flavourings – always natural – are boiled to a certain temperature. Then, then the liquid is poured out on a marble slab and aloud to cool a little. This starts the transformation from lava to fudge. Like when you temper chocolate, sugars and fats can create crystals of various sizes. We’re looking at a particular tiny one for smoothness. To aid the process along, the fudge is worked.
This part of the process is what makes The Fudge Kitchen’s fudge so special. After a few minutes of cooling, the fudge mass is worked first with large metal paddles and then with smaller ones to control the cooling and crystallization process and to create the distinctive loaf shape that’s distincly Fudge Kitchen. Ten kilos of mass is battered into submission, turned and twisted, and then cut into uniform pieces by hand. This is truly hand-made confectionery. And it’s hard work – I know, because I’ve done it. There’s a lot of technique to learn to make this right.
The outcome is soothing and lovely. It’s worth the extra effort and the visitors who come into the shop to watch the fudge being handled clearly agree. We were looked after by Alex, who has worked for The Fudge Kitchen for six years. He took us through the process of boiling, pouring, paddling, shaping and cutting the fudge. For most of the process, people were watching us with great interest. Fudge making can be a performance art. I really enjoyed the experience of being there with Alex, manager Will and Becka. The team is friendly and kind, knows all there is to know about fudge and obviously love their product.
And what’s not to love? Silky smooth, rich and delicious. I’ve developed a new appreciation for fudge and am rather glad to start world vegan month with something so tasty. A new flavour, maybe? I just saw on the that they do a vegan mint chocolate swirl now. That sounds gorgeous. I might have to visit the shop again…
Things you didn’t know about fudge
Fudge freezes. That’s a revelation. And a boon: by four flavours, put two in the freezer for later consumption. If you’re like me, having it out – and fudge keeps well for a couple of weeks on the side in the kitchen – means you’ll eat it. I need to squirrel some away or I’ll eat it all in one sitting.
Fudge ships. If you’re in Edinburgh or one of the other cities that has a fudge kitchen, you can visit one to taste fudge and buy some. If you don’t have one nearby, they have an online shop. Honestly, I can think of few things as nice as a surprise package of fudge arriving at your door. It’ll make great Christmas presents. (I live far away from my family: things get sent.) The vegan selection is four slices at £16. If you want to make fudge and learn how to tell your creamer from your loafer, a fudge experience for two is £95 and you each get a fudge selection to take away (and, from personal experience, all the fudge you can taste).
Fudge is delicious. OK. you probably did know that. Vegan or dairy – it’s lovely, happy-making stuff.
Fudge – at least as made by The Fudge Kitchen – is an artisan product. Visit the shop, watch it being made, take some slices home and enjoy.
30 High Street
Edinburgh, EH1 1TB