Last Monday was July 1st, which is Canada day and also my dear older brother’s birthday. Yesterday was one of my close friend’s birthday, so I had many reasons to do some celebratory baking. The weather this weekend has been perfect: cloudless skies with temperatures in the high twenties. Combined with great friends, excellent food, and white wine sangria – a British summer doesn’t get better than this!
I decided to bake two distinctly Canadian treats, Nanaimo bars and old fashioned maple walnut fudge. I have made Nanaimo bars in the past. They are a delicious no-bake bar with a creamy vanilla filling sandwiched between a soft coconutty base and a thick layer of chocolate on top. What makes them distinct is the sweet vanilla flavour that comes from using custard powder in the middle icing layer. They originally come from the town of Nanaimo, BC and although they are quite common back home, they aren’t that well known outside of Canada.
Secondly, the maple walnut fudge. There are few flavours more famously Canadian than maple. We love to put it on everything from pancakes, to maple glazed ham, to maple sugar candies… the list is endless. Maple syrup is one of my favourite foods and I wanted to make some maple fudge that used the real McCoy and not icky maple flavouring. I turned to one of my favourite recipe sources, Canadian Living, and found what looked to be a very promising recipe.
The fudge turned out well; it was deliciously smooth with a strong maple flavour. My only comment was that it was a bit soft in the heat and was best when it was eaten straight out of the refrigerator. However, I will admit that this probably because I didn’t beat the fudge quite long enough before pouring it out. But you try beating thick fudge with a wooden spoon for 15 minutes in this heat! Maybe if I make this treat again in winter I’ll do better and appreciate the “warming” effect of mixing it by hand. lol.
My friend’s birthday party was a wonderful occasion. With all of us graduated from St Andrews now, it’s much more difficult to coordinate these gatherings. In the next couple months, many of us will be leaving on our own adventures with a few of my friends going as far as Asia in the East and to Quebec in the West! I, however, will be staying in my little corner of Cambridge at least for the next two years.
Happy Birthday, my darling!
Maple Walnut Fudge
adapted from Canadian Living
- 1 cup double cream
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp baking soda/bicarb of soda
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup walnuts (toasted, chopped)
- Grease an 8×8″ square baking tin and line with baking parchment (greasing the tin helps the baking parchment stick). If using tin foil, butter the tin foil as well.
- Grease the sides of a heavy saucepan. Add the sugar, cream, maple syrup, butter and a pinch of baking soda.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. If mixture doesn’t foam up high when boiling, add most of the remaining baking soda.
- Boil without stirring until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (238F or 114C on a candy thermometer). Immediately pour in a greased wide bowl, but do not scrape the bottom of the pan clean. Let cool to 100F/38C, 1 – 2 hours.
- With a wooden spoon, beat in the vanilla. Keep beating by hand until the mixture is very thick, and becomes opaque and looses its gloss. The original recipe said 7 minutes, but it took me at least 15 - so either I need to start doing some weight lifting or it takes longer than it originally said! Bottom line is to go by how the fudge looks rather than a time limit.
- Quickly stir in the toasted walnuts and immediately scrape into your preprepared baking dish. Let cool on rack or put in the fridge to chill. Lift out the fudge onto a cutting board and cut into small 1 to 1.5 inch squares (depending on your sweet tooth)