When mum had a real hankering for something sweet late one Friday afternoon, and the snack drawer was bare, a quick alternative just had to be found. It was agreed that that firm favourite – plain fudge – would hit the spot, but neither of us felt like standing in front of the stove stirring for the long time the traditional version requires.
Between old magazines, recipe books and the web, we decided that this microwave version from justeasyrecipes.co.za sounded simple, quick and close to the traditional fudge we usually make. It took less than 15 minutes to make, and made 25 squares in the 20cm square tin.
1 can full cream condensed milk (the 385g can)
500ml (2 cups) castor sugar
5ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla essence
The use of margarine was interesting to me, as everyone knows fudge is butter-based, that’s what makes it fudge. However, a bit of browsing indicated that margarine is actually better for microwave fudge. Some articles and comments were quite emphatic about not using butter for this. The margarine certainly worked well, and is lots cheaper too.
20 cm square baking tin, 2- 4cm deep, greased (I use non-stick spray)
3l microwave bowl
- Place the condensed milk, margarine and sugar in a large, deep microwave (heat-resistant) bowl. Make sure your bowl holds at least 3 litres – in the first minutes of the main cooking, the mixture will bubble up quite high.
- Microwave on High for 2.5 minutes, or until the margarine is melted. Our microwave is 1000W, and the melting process only took about 2 minutes.
- Stir well to combine the melted ingredients.
- Once stirred, microwave on High for 7 – 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Here is where I learnt a few things. When the mixture starts out after melting, it is pretty thin and light in consistency. At this stage, it bubbles up a lot. Don’t leave it unattended, and keep a close eye on the bowl. When you can see the slightest golden cloud over the edge of the bowl, stop the microwave, let the mixture subside, and then take it out and stir. For me, this happened around 1.5 minutes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough, so had a few drops of liquid fudge on the microwave turntable. As it thickens, it still bubbles up, but not as high or quickly – still keep an eye on it all the time. Oh yes – never forget: fudge (and most candies) is almost all sugar – the mixture gets seriously hot. Do not touch the mixture during cooking. And, whatever you do, do not lick the spoon!
- When the mixture is a light caramel colour, add the vanilla essence. This is what the recipe says, but I have to admit that I read the wrong line at the beginning and added it to the melted ingredients after step 2. It didn’t seem to make any difference to the outcome, but possibly made the mixture a little darker caramel. With 1000W, the mixture was ready at 7.5 minutes – you want it caramel in colour, but not quite caramel in texture, just slightly thinner (The mixture must be pourable, not a ball of fudge – it will set too quickly and result in hard fudge). And not too dark in colour, then it may be starting to burn. Rather cook for 1-2 minute intervals and keep checking; you want big bubbles, not craters, then you know it’s ready. There may be little lumpy bits when you take it out, stirring will remove these, hence the regular stirring.
- Pour into the greased baking tin to set. You can smooth it if you want to, but I like the rougher swirled look – I think it adds character.
- When it is slightly cooled (about 5-10 minutes) cut into squares in the tin. You should get 25 reasonable size squares. You need to cut it when it has set just enough so that the cuts do not close up again. If the mixture moves to close again as the knife moves through, wait a few minutes more before cutting again. If you wait too long to cut the setting mixture, you will not be able to cut the fudge neatly and will end up with chunks. Yummy chunks, but chunks nonetheless.
- Leave to cool completely – at least an hour and a half if you really can’t wait – but preferably 2 hours or more. Tip out by placing a board over the tin and turning it upside down. Break any pieces along the cuts made if necessary.
- Store in an airtight container, or place directly in your mouth, and enjoy!