Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a new cook book and this year was no exception (thanks Sis!). The new addition is the small, but rather beautifully formed, Life is Sweet by Hope and Greenwood.
As you can see from the cover it offers an enticing array of recipes for sweet things such as fudge, caramels and truffles. It's an attractively laid out book with lots of great pictures and is written in an engaging matronly way so you know where you stand right from the start.
The first recipe that took my fancy was the peanut butter fudge. I have to say that this didn't turn out to be quite as straightforward as I'd hoped. It was one of those times when you could really use the writer of the recipe standing next to you ready to answer questions like "Should it look like that?" and "Why is my thermometer not working??".
As it turns out I think I used the wrong pan. I used my big preserving pan which was just too big as the mixture was not deep enough for the thermometer to work properly. This base was also a bit too thin so the bottom of the mix began to burn before the rest had fully cooked. The burnt bits appearing off the bottom resulted in me calling a halt to the cooking process earlier than I should have done and so my fudge didn't set hard enough. It was, nevertheless, very yummy in that that excessive, guilt-inducing way that comes from eating something containing a LOT of sugar and butter - this stuff is made for sharing!
Peanut Butter Fudge
(adapted from Life is Sweet by Hope and Greenwood)
500g/1lb 2oz caster sugar
340ml/12 fl oz evaporated milk
2 tbsp double cream
2 large rounded tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
1) Line a 20cm/8in square baking tin, 4cm deep, with baking parchment
2) Place the sugar, butter, evaporated milk, double cream and butter into a deep, heavy-bottomed pan over a gentle heat. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved - this takes about 5 minutes.
3) Turn the heat up to medium, place a sugar thermometer in the pan and bring the mixture to the boil - it will double in size.
4) Bring the mixture up to 100c/215f, stirring occasionally, then lower the heat to a gentle boil. Boil for a further 10 minutes, but take care when the thermometer reaches 115c/240f, as at this point the mixture boils easily. Remove from the heat.
5) Using an electric hand whisk, food processor or wooden spoon (anyone who manages to do this by hand deserves a medal!!) beat the mixture for 10 minutes and then add the peanut butter. Beat for a further 15 minutes, or until the mixture loses its shine, thickens up and starts to appear grainy. Pour into the prepared tin.
6) Set aside to cool. After about 1 hour, score the surface into rough squares with a knife. Once cold and firm, break into squares.