I think I’ve discovered heaven.
I got the idea when buying my dried fruit in Maastricht just before Christmas in order to make my Christmas cake and fruit mince pies. There was this stall on the edge of the main square selling the most amazing array of dried fruits imaginable. And among the selection were these incredibly sumptuous and flavorsome semi-dried strawberries. The lady let me sample one, and from that moment on I knew I was in love.
I have been a huge fan of Jo Seagar’s fudge recipe for a long time (found in her cookbook “The Cook School Recipes” and unfortunately only available in New Zealand as far as I can tell). The magic ingredient that makes her fudge so divinely smooth is liquid glucose. In New Zealand, liquid glucose is available at any good pharmacy. In the Netherlands, you can find it at various specialty stores. Here in Lelystad, the local chocolatier sells it in a big plastic tub.
Jo Seagar suggests various flavor combinations to use with the fudge base, including “ginger & walnut” or “apricots, macadamia & Grand Mariner. For me personally, none of these combinations inspired me very much (I’m not a fan of crystallized ginger, and dried apricots just seemed too ‘meh’). But when I saw the semi-dried strawberries in Maastricht, I knew I had found a combination that would be to die for.
Any fudge recipe will tell you that it’s important that you keep stirring the mixture and scraping the bottom of the bowl so that it doesn’t catch and burn. Now I’m a very impatient cook, and I’m not prepared to spend forever waiting for the fudge to boil. And yes, every time that I cook this fudge, I get little bits of brown stuff forming meaning that it’s catching slightly on the bottom of the pot. However, I’ve found that if you keep stirring, the bits seem to disappear and the finished product contains no brown bits at all. So my word of advice – don’t panic if you start seeing little brown flecks in your mixture while you stir and wait for it to boil! In saying that, you do need to be a little bit careful – obviously if the heat is too high, then it really will catch and burn on the bottom.
This fudge makes such a wonderful home-made gift, and not only for Valentine’s Day. Just wrap the pieces up in some clear cellophane, tie a ribbon around it and voila! - a handmade gift that’s cheap and delicious.