Don’t judge a book by its cover. The dishevelled looking crazy person on the bus; the one hunched over in his seat, looking at the ground and rummaging through his bags is not, in fact, insane. He is actually an intelligent being who looks exhausted because he sprinted up the road after this bus, which he just caught by a minute, and spent the whole day up until then baking. That crazy person is me.
Before I get into what is rapidly becoming a big theme on this blog, cooking, I wanted to mention some gaming stuff and get back to the core of why the blog is here. Halo! Halo 4 will be released on Tuesday, and things are getting very exciting. Ashamedly I had forgotten all about it up until someone reminded me that it was being released in the extremely near future. Video game retailers around the country, and world, are preparing for the big launch with midnight openings, but I’m just not feeling the excitement. The last time I was truly excited about a big video game release was Halo 2, and I suppose I was quite intrigued by Skyrim too. I did watch some of the multiplayer gameplay though, and from what I saw it looks really good, and a bit faster paced too. Would I be in line for the launch? Probably not, but I’m seriously considering buying it post-release. There’s probably no point of buying it during the week as I don’t have an Xbox in Belfast with me. Another exciting one which I forgot about is Black Mesa, the recreation of the original Half-Life, but using the full potential of the Source engine. I was a massive Half-Life fan at the time of the original game, and really enjoyed the single player story, so I am looking forward to playing it tonight. The graphics are a major improvement over the original, and everything is so much smoother and better. I don’t know about you, but when I remember back to games I have a tendency to romanticise them and think of them as looking as good as games today, but that is rarely the case. Half-Life did look amazing at release and for a few years after, but it feels seriously dated now (which is understandable, as it is about 14 years old!), and I’m happy to see it being brought back to life in 2012.
Yes, it was another weekend of baking and fudge making, and there was a movie night thrown into the mix as well. We watched the Evil Dead, which just happened to be one of the weirdest, reasonably disturbing, horrific film I’ve seen, and yet it is absolutely hilarious. It was definitely good for a few laughs, and it felt like a good group film as everyone banded together to point out the insane flaws in the plot and shout at the characters for being as thick as champ. All we were missing was popcorn to throw at the screen, then it could have been our very own Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Back to the fudge. I got the recipe online after searching for the “best fudge recipe”, because clearly anything labelled “the best” is irrefutably the best. And I happened to find one that looked plausible. It is suprisingly hard to find a decent fudge recipe, but this one had exactly what I was looking for and seemed pretty plausible, and utilised a mixer for the hard work. Well, I say hard work but more accurately it is easy work that is crucial to the proper setting of the fudge. The real hard part is the boiling.
The recipe required an unholy amount of sugar, as fudge often does, but rarely do you get a chance to look diabetes square in the face. So much sugar. Why are things that are terrible for us so incredibly good? That’s probably a question for an evolutionary biologist, but it’s the weekend, so I digress. Not only was there sugar, but also butter, condensed milk, and double cream. I’m writing this on the bus on my way back up to Belfast, and observing the locals at the same time. It’s wonderful when an abusive pleb is telling a loved one to shut up and leave him alone over the phone.
I had bought the sugar thermometer the day before, mainly because I was fed up with fudge never turning out the way I wanted it to. The first ever batch I made was pretty good, even though it was quite a different texture to what you might expect. It was brittle and tasted like milky bar, so pretty damn good all in all. The second and third batches were write offs, and the fourth was okay. The chocolate fudges in between were decent but didn’t require nearly as much work. So the thermometer was to be my saving grace. If you have ever made fudge before, you will know that the goal of cooking the fudge is to reach the soft ball stage (when the mixture is dripped into a bowl of cold water it forms soft balls), or 118 degrees Celcius. You only appreciate how hot that truly is when some of it splashes out onto your skin. When the mixture is brought to the boil it has to be stirred constantly for 12 – 15 minutes, or how ever long it takes to reach the soft ball stage, or it will burn to the bottom of the pan. Though my stirring was unrelenting, and my dedication unwavering, I still could not prevent the inevitable. So I stirred faster, and faster, constantly checking with the thermometer and hoping to reach the target sooner rather than later. Then it hit me. A blob of molten hot fudge landed on my right index finger. That was the hottest thing ever, and though it was only there for a second, it effortlessly removed the top layer of my skin in that spot.
Dilemma. Do you:
a) Tend to the burned digit which is in a great deal of pain right now,
b) Keep stirring the fudge before it burns, making the whole venture a complete waste of time
I chose the third option. Basic first aid tells you to run a burn under cold water for ten minutes to try and cool down the deeper tissue layers and reduce the amount of damage, so that’s what I tried to do. I was stirring frantically with my left hand while running the right through the water as long as I could. As could can appreciate, it was a difficult few minutes. By some miracle or other, I managed to pull it back and save the fudge, which was only minimally burned, and poured it into the mixing bowl. I turned on the mixer and left it to do its job, while I tended to my finger. This was a bit of a foolish endeavour, and I shouldn’t have put myself at risk like that. It could have been much worse, but luckily the burn was fairly limited. If you learn nothing after reading this, then take away this one thing: wear gloves when you’re stirring fudge or anything like that, and treat it like molten iron. Trust me, you really do not want to get any on you.
It is really good fudge though.