Many of my friends are fantastic cooks, often intimidatingly so. I’ve lost count of the number of amazing meals, treats and quickly thrown-together (mouthwateringly delicious) suppers that I’ve been lucky enough to entertain my chops with over the years. Friends have rescued my own meals with a well-placed orange, and one is so talented that she has even gone pro, but my friend Helen takes the biscuit, and possibly all biscuits for her enormous enthusiasm and skill for baking.
She and our friends Olly, Corrie and I make up a highly competitive karaoke quartet, and as it was our Christmas outing at Lucky Voice last week she was challenged to make mince pie fudge. It was a completely throwaway comment in an email, but Helen duly arrived in Soho armed with some of the most delectable fudge I’ve ever had.
IT WAS AMAZING.
I asked her for the recipe, and immediately plotted to try it with my mother’s fudge recipe for Domestic Sluttery (you can only post original or highly tinkered-with recipes). I’m in the middle of that now, but in the meantime, here is Helen’s quite delicious version in her own inimitable writing. It is based on a recipe from a Christmas book by a cook called Darina Allen, who I assumed to be American (her fudge recipe is called Doreen!) but turns out to be an Irish chef with the most monumentally brilliant assortment of spectacles.
I will report back with news of the other, which is currently cooling down from Vesuvian temperatures in my kitchen, and large quantities of which have already burned my face and mouth. Class.
Helen O’Hara’s Mince Pie Fudge
As detailed by the good lady herself:
“So I made a Darina Allen recipe called Doreen’s fudge. If memory serves you:
- Melt together 225g butter, 450g sugar, I tbsp. golden syrup. Once melted, simmer for 5 mins
- Add in one tin (about 400g) condensed milk. Bring back to the boil and boil for up to 20 mins until it’s golden brown. I only did 15 mins last night because I am a maverick who lives by her own rules. You need to stir it this whole time or it can stick, but you can do it one-handed while reading a book. If you do it too long it’ll still be fine but might be more toffeeish.
- After the 20(ish) minutes, stir in 1tsp vanilla essence and 1tsp vinegar. Yes really – I think that’s what makes it so pleasantly textured.
- At this point I crumbled in four cheapish mince pies. In retrospect, might have been better to add all six. In future, might experiment by adding in a bunch of mince, preferably quite strongly flavoured, and some crumbled shortbread biscuits instead just to give it more of a kick.
- Pour it all into a lightly greased (with flavourless oil) pan to cool and set and cut up.
- Sit back and accept adulation.”
UPDATE: this is my recipe for Domestic Sluttery using mum’s classic recipe. It went down a storm in the office.