I'll often insist that I don't like change and that what I do like is, in fact, a good status quo to settle into, but I think what I really mean by that is that it's a bit sad when nice people go far away. I'm honestly always trying to change things, most of the time incredibly rapidly without considering any consequences. Or at least, I will have thoroughly overthought the consequences, and then I'll just be like "uhhhh what if I leap head-first into this and whatever happens after, that's ten-minutes-from-now-Laura's problem." This could be anything from spontaneously bleaching my hair to the entire state of my life at any given time. It's certainly not the most advisable way to live out your days, but it does kinda get stuff happening.
Anyway I got to thinking about this (with some self-awareness but no real emotional growth or change) following two events: I recently bleached my hair in almost panicky haste, and also some super nice people who I work with went far away to travel the world for a bit. I have no idea what to do with a status quo except frantically push in the opposite direction of it, but when people are about to leave, I know exactly what to do: make delicious sweet things for them. That's how I ended up making this gorgeously dense fudge, bejewelled with brandy-soaked sultanas. I had, in a nice piece of symbiosis, nicked the sultanas themselves from work prior to this, where they had been lending their flavour to brandy for a cocktail we were doing over Easter. One of the people who was leaving - Brooke, a gem of a lady - suggested that I turn them into fudge at some point, and so it seemed like a nice way to sweeten up the last shift we all worked together.
I don't expect you to have sultanas sitting around in brandy for the opportunistic thieving, but they can be very easily recreated by quickly making your own (leaving you, joyfully, with leftover infused alcohol.) You don't even have to use brandy, rum is an obvious contender here, or you could use some other dried-grape-friendly liqueur, or - honestly - leave the fruit aspect out altogether and simply make yourself a slab of creamy, gloriously plain fudge.
This fudge has the silkiest bite to it, like your teeth are sliding through cool water. It dissolves on the tongue with rolling caramel flavours punctured by bursts of eyewateringly boozy sultanas. The sweetness of all the sugar and the heat of the alcohol plus the generally deliciousness of the butter come together to make something astonishingly balanced considering it's, y'know, a rectangle of sugar. And while it's not as comfortingly crumbly as super-traditional fudge but the incredible satin texture more than makes up for this.
brandy butter sultana fudge
adapted from this recipe. It's really easy to make, I just do a lot of explaining in the method below, in case you're freaking out at how long it looks.
one cup of sultanas
brandy - something not horrifically cheap but don't use anything expensive either
one can of sweetened condensed milk (the kind that's roughly 395g in size)
two firmly packed cups of brown sugar
Put the sultanas in a bowl and pour in juuuust enough brandy that they all get a go at being in it. You don't have to swamp them, but it's all up to you - after all, you can use the soaking brandy however you please later, so if you want more of it then cover them in more. If you're like "noooo my precious brandy" then use a smaller amount. Leave it to sit, covered, at least overnight, but to be honest you could probably get away with like, an hour, if you're incredibly impatient. There's probably some way you could speed up the process by gently microwaving it all, but I don't have one and have completely forgotten what to do with one so couldn't really advise there.
Put the butter, condensed milk, and brown sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring pretty much constantly, and let it all bubble away like there's no tomorrow until it reaches the soft-ball stage. What is this? Get a bowl of cold water. If you drop a small spoonful of the fudge into the cold water and it forms a soft ball of like, fudgey stuff, then it's ready. If it simply dissolves into the water or collapses into nothing, it needs to keep boiling.
Once it's ready, remove from the heat - I like to stick it in a sink that I've partially filled with cold water - and stir aggressively for honestly ages until it thickens and you can see it starting to crystalise and set around the edges. Halfway through, stir in the drained sultanas. Reserve the brandy for your own good times. Usually fudge will lose its gloss and become rather crumbly as you stir but this one was a little different - it just thickened up considerably. When you feel chill about it, spatula the lot into a baking paper-lined brownie tin (or similar regularly sized baking dish) and refrigerate till super firm. Cut into slices of whatever size you like, and eat.
The fudge went down very well with the crew when I brought it in and achieved lavish praise (oh my god, do I only do this for attention and lavish praise, not just to be nice? Does it even matter if we all still get fudge as a result?) Literally all I've been doing otherwise is trying to stay awake long enough to write this post, and listening to Judy Garland (I was going to say "through tear-filled ears" but not only is that anatomically inaccurate it's also troubling to consider, but what I'm trying to say is that she makes me majorly emotional.) However! One exciting thing has occurred lately: I had another crush cake published on The Toast. This one is for glorious Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda, currently crushing it in the gasp-makingly successful musical Hamilton. Go me! (Really, go me. Back to bed. Go back to bed, me.)
small cake, big crush
title from: Roll Deep, The Avenue - only one of the best songs to come out of the year 2005 ever.
My Shot, from the musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Leslie Odom Jr and Anthony Ramos performing live at the White House - I honestly get aggressive shivers the minute this starts and can't stop watching this.
Judy Garland, The Man That Got Away. Is there a duststorm happening inches from my face in this room? Oh wait no I'm sobbing uncontrollably at this.
Soulja Boy Tell'em, Crank That (Soulja Boy) I dunno, I just really felt like listening to this.
next time: I reallllllly feel like making bread, so maybe that will have happened by the time I next am here?