Here in Ireland and the UK, peanut butter is something you put in the sandwiches of school children, or eat by the spoonful if you're trying to body-build, however in the United States of America, it seems like a national institution. People here would never really think of it as something to put in or around sweets, due to its use as a savoury sandwich filling, and the only homegrown sweetie on would find peanut butter in is a Peanut Butter KitKat, and I think that was only invented in repsonse to the influx of American sweeties, particularly Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
I'd never seen a Reese's cup until I was i my late teens, and I remember a few of my American college mates waxing lyrical about the fact that Ireland had started importing 'real candy' (and I resisted the urge to tell them that all this time they could've been making them at home with great ease using chocolate bars, peanut butter, normal butter, icing sugar and paper cake cases)
Now however, I have leapt onto the peanut butter sweetie bandwagon and uploaded my own version of the Usonian classic: Peanut Butter Fudge. Unlike most recipes on the internet, this version doesn't need (the abomnible invention that is-) Marshmallow Creme or white chocolate chips, it just needs five ingredients that are commonly found in an Irish or British kitchen.
- 12 ounces (340 grammes) light brown sugar
- 3½ fluid ounces (100 millilitres) cream
- 3½ fluid ounces (100 millilitres) milk
- 3½ ounces (100 grammes) butter
- 3 ounces (85 grammes) smooth peanut butter
- Optional: 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) of vanilla essence
- Prepare an 8 inch (20 centimeter) square tin by either greasing it lightly or lining it with non-stick baking paper. You could also use a silicone baking tin, which needs no greasing or lining.
- In a heavy-based large saucepan, heat the cream, milk and butter until the butter has melted.
- Pour the sugar into the middle of the pan so that it forms a little mountain in the middle, then gently bring in the milk mixture from the edges. Your aim here is to get as little sugar as possible on the edges of the pan, as this can cause your fudge to go grainy.
- Stir the mixture over medium-low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Using a pastry brush dipped in hot water, wash the sugar crystals from the side of the pan. Alternatively, you can just pop the lid on the pan for a minute to allow the steam to wash it all away instead.
- Once the sugar has dissolved and there is no evidence of sugar crystals left, bring the mixture to the boil and once boiling clip a sugar thermometre to the side of the pan. Cook over medium-high heat until the whole thing reaches 118°C (245°F). Please don't stir!
- While the fudge is cooking, fill your sink or wash basin with about 2 inches (5 centimetres) of cold water.
- Once the fudge has reached temperature, take the pan from the heat and dip the bottom in the cold water to stop cooking immediately.
- Add the peanut butter to the mixture, then leave the mixture to cool for 12 minutes (a minute per ounce (28 grammes) of sugar).
- Add the vanilla essence and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until thick, creamy and opaque. The mixture will slightly lose its shine and become more matte, and the consistency will be like freshly made Mr Whippy soft serve ice-cream.
- Pour into your prepared tin and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Do not even think of setting it in the fridge: you can store it in the fridge once set, but setting the fudge in the fridge will cause crystallisation. Store in an air tight container to avoid it catching any unwanted odours or flavours.