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RECIPE: Salted caramel liqueur fudge

PUBLISHED: 13:11 07 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:11 07 December 2017

Christmas treats by Charlotte Smith Jarvis.

Christmas treats by Charlotte Smith Jarvis.

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Make our utterly indulgent salted caramel fudge for friends and family this Christmas.

A few years ago my mum introduced me to Tesco Finest Salted Caramel Cream Liqueur. OMG it was good. So good, in fact, that I now make a pilgrimage to the supermarket giant every Christmas for a bottle (or two). It sits right up there with my other two favourite luscious tipples – Aldi’s Specially Selected Cream Liqueur, and Coole Swan (you can get this in John Lewis), which infuses single malt Irish whiskey with white Belgian chocolate and dairy cream – dreamy.

The fad for salted caramel is nothing new. In fact, I reckon the Breton of France are positively bemused by our recent-ish love for the stuff. They’ve been chucking salt in cakes, biscuits and candies for years.

You see, salt ‘seasons’ the sugar. It tempers the sweetness of whatever it touches, and brings alive the nuances of other ingredients. So it’s the perfect addition to a sticky vat of bubbling caramel, all buttery and oozy.

Anyway, onto this week’s recipe, one of my favourite for fudge, combining the sweet with salt and Irish liqueur, so you end up with something that tastes akin to the aforementioned ‘supermarket beginning with T’s’ stuff.

I make a batch of fudge every Christmas because I’m pretty well obsessed with the stuff. I’ve eaten the confection from the tip to the heel of the UK and am, admittedly pretty darn fussy. The best, in my humble opinion was, until recently, made at Justin’s - a chocolate shop in Whitby – closely followed by The Toffee Shop of Penrith’s vanillary butter tablet slabs.

But I was over-the-moon to find Courtyard Confectionary at Porkstock in Norwich a couple of months back. Owner Ricky is based at Wroxham Barns in Norfolk and, hand on heart, makes some of the most exceptional fudge I’ve ever wrapped my chops around. It’s smooth, soft, packed with natural flavour, and not too sweet. Ricky delivers, so I’d get your orders in now if you fancy some for the festive goodie box this year.

You don’t need to use your best Baileys for this. I’ve made it with the liqueur from Aldi, Lidl and the Co-op (usually between £4 and £8), and you really can’t taste the difference.

For the most accurate results use a sugar thermometer.

Salted Caramel Liqueur Fudge

(makes about 25 pieces)

Ingredients

125ml evaporated milk

220g light brown sugar

220g caster sugar

175g unsalted butter

1tsp vanilla extract

120ml Irish cream liqueur

280g icing sugar, sifted well

1tsp Maldon sea salt

Method

Grease and line a 20cm square tin. Stir the milk, sugars and butter in a heavy bottomed pan. Cook on a low to medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil until the mix reaches the soft ball stage. This is between 112C and 116C on a sugar thermometer. When you drop a dollop of the mix into a mug of very cold water it should form a pliable ball.

Take off the heat and carefully pour in the liqueur (watch out because it’ll bubble up). Sift in the icing sugar and add the salt. Now use an electric hand whisk or countertop mixer and beat the life out of the mix until it’s thick and almost cooled. The longer you beat it, the smoother the result – beating prevents large sugar crystals forming.

Spoon into your lined tin and leave overnight to set before cutting and setting into petit four cases for presentation.

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