Thursday, 19 March 2015

Fudge Kitchen

There is a place in Canterbury near the Cathedral, at the top end of the Kings Mile, that smells devilishly divine.  As you walk past you are hit with wafts of warm caramel, indulgent notes of toffee, vanilla drifts of superheated sugar and sinfully rich hints of melted chocolate.  What makes this a real test of will is the sign outside that tempts you in with the promise of free samples.

I'm talking about the Fudge Kitchen
The hunter green shop front gives way to a business that has been perfecting its fudge recipes for over 30 years, using traditional techniques and methods that are nearly two hundred years old.  All the fudge is made in-house in the great bronze fudge cauldron and on the marble slab where, if you get lucky with your timings, you can watch the fudge artisans doing their stuff.
If watching isn't enough for you, then you can always get down and sticky with the fudge yourself in one of their fudge making experiences!  For the cool price of £60 for two people, you can learn the basics of fudge making, put yourself into a sugar coma on free tasting samples and walk out with 4 slabs of fudge to take home.  Not bad value to be honest!  They also do the Fudge At Home kits where you can get scientific in your own kitchen with your very own sugar thermometer and fudge tools and a lot of cream.

We will get onto the fudge itself in a moment, I promise.

For now, let me tell you a little bit more about fudge in general.  Fudge was originally 'born' at a female college in Virginia in the States, not in Cornwall or Devon surprisingly.  Apparently a college lecturer was taking a class in toffee making when the temperature of the concoction was not taken high enough. The end product was called ‘fudge' and in one fell swoop two things were invited; a creamy, delicious treat and the term to 'fudge' something.  
The Fudge Kitchen specialises in American style fudge, using a recipe that relies on the creamiest of cream instead of butter to give their fudge its distinctive, addictive texture and help the vanilla flavour maintain its creamy colour.  They must be doing something right as they now have Fudge Kitchens in Canterbury, Bath, York, Cambridge, Windsor, Edinburgh and Oxford (all of which, coincidentally considering the origin story of Fudge, are towns and cities with major Universities present).  They are a proper Kentish company; their head offices are in Lyminge, not far from Canterbury.   Can't get to a store and currently clawing and the screen to get your paws on some?  Don't worry - they deliver.   You may even get really lucky and find them at a stockist near you.
They don't just do big slabs of fudge. For those of you who prefer your fudge in liquid form, they also do sachets of drinking fudge in a multitude of different flavours, from Tangy Orange to Gorgeous Ginger (I married one of them) and the original Sea Salt Caramel.  You can have these hot in the winter or as a seriously different milkshake in the summer.
Then there are the fudge sauces.  Pancake Day is admittedly behind us, but I'm a firm advocate for pancakes throughout the year and these would make an amazing topping.  They would also be awesome in a sticky toffee pudding, poured over ice cream, in a bread and butter pudding (the chocolate and ginger would be especially brilliant for this), baked into cakes and cupcakes or as an indulgent icing or as a fudge fondue with marshmallow and fruit skewers. 
So that's all the little added extras that the fudge kitchen specialises in.  Now onto the main event - the fudge itself.
The first thing to note is the variety of fudge you can get - from your traditional toffee and chocolate flavours to seasonal classics (at the moment Hot Cross Bun and Lemon and Ginger are on the menu for the spring time). 
You can try a sliver of any of the fudges before you buy one of the enormous, 175g slabs that they have for sale in the the window.  We had come in to build a box to take to the pub for my birthday for everyone to share - a little goes a long way.
We got a 6 slab box for £22 to take home and filled it with Traditional Toffee (very sweet and warm), Vintage Vanilla (pure white with a warm vanilla taste that comes from pods and not essence), Caramel Swirl (made from the Vintage Vanilla fudge which has homemade caramel swirled through it), Chocolate Classic (my favourite, dark and velvety and most definitely not for children - it has an almost bitter edge that cuts through the sweetness of the fudge), Double Trouble (dark chocolate fudge with great chunks of white Belgian chocolate running through it) and Belgian Chocolate Swirl (dark Belgian chocolate and the classic Vanilla fudge swirled together). 
The flavours are like no fudge you have tasted before.  All of them are decadent, rich and creamy; a small morsel goes a very long way and will satisfy even the strongest of sweet tooth cravings. Our box lasted for ages. Half of the box fed 8 people as a dessert, the other half we took to rehearsal with 15 people there who gradually munched their way through it.     
Why not consider something a little bit different from your traditional Easter eggs this year, and go for a box of fudge for the family, or a home kit so you can make your own fudge at home with the kids over the Easter holidays (supervised closely of course!)  They would absolutely love it!
You can find the Fudge Kitchen on facebook and twitter and they have a blog so why not say hello?

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