Thursday, 19 July 2012

Review: A visit to Fudge Kitchen, Cambridge

Fudge Kitchen, Cambridge

I was a regular visitor to Fudge Kitchen on King's Parade in Cambridge during my student days - mainly for a quick sugar fix between lectures or to share the unique and delicious fudge experience with guests to the city - but had neglected it somewhat over the last couple of years. A few weekends ago I popped into the shop with some friends from London and wowed them with the many flavours of fudge and knowledgeable and friendly staff. The brief visit definitely consolidated my love of the confectioner, so when Fudge Kitchen HQ asked me to sample some fudge and write a review of my experience I jumped at the chance...

A perfect view of the beautiful King's College and a perfect sunny Sunday morning greeted me as I skipped along King's Parade and into the Fudge Kitchen shop in the centre of the historic city. The smell of hot, sweet fudge hit me before I'd even made it through the doorway so I knew that the team of "Fudge Chefs" (as I like to call them) were hard at work, as always, cooking up new batches and neatly slicing out cooling slabs of freshly prepared fudge. I couldn't wait to get stuck in so I grabbed a quick sample of Classic Fudge, just to get my taste buds in the mood, and settled down to watch the magic happen!  

When I arrived one of the team was pouring out a huge, gloopy, shining dollop of hot toffee fudge onto the marble cooling table. It was rich, glossy and thick and totally mesmerising as it was pushed, folded and kneaded around the table by a large, paddle-like tool called a loafer. It looked like hard work (cooling fudge is pretty heavy!) and I couldn't help thinking that if I had a go there would soon be little brown fudge puddles dotted around the floor. So, leaving it to the experts, I instead watched in awe as the fudge was transformed into a long, thin log-shaped "loaf" of fudge. In minutes, the semi-cooled fudge went from gorgeously gooey to deliciously delicate, as it was folded and sculpted into shape. It takes some skill to create the uniformity of the loaf, making sure it is good for slicing, whilst working quickly to avoid the fudge crumbling and flaking as it solidifies. Finally, mere seconds later, the loaf was quickly sliced and, most importantly, ready to taste. It was still warm, very smooth, and devilishly sweet!

Meanwhile, Fudge Chef No. 2 was preparing a second batch to keep the fudge stocks fresh and plentiful. I hung out to find out more about the process and listened in whilst he effortlessly mixed the cream, sugar, water with a touch of salt and syrup, and fielded customers' questions (even in French, where necessary!). The impressive copper-lined cauldron, set over 32 gas jets, quickly heated up and sent heavenly aromas of sugar and cream swirling around the shop from the vanilla and Belgian chocolate batch. Considering the very special end product, I always suspected there would be some extremely careful cooking involved or even a top secret, quirky ingredient. The food geek in me was absolutely delighted to discover, therefore, that the perfect fudge is created by achieving the exact combination of factors, which, naturally, vary according to the type of fudge being produced, including humidity, temperature, humidity, and even altitude of the shop (love this!). I particularly enjoyed joining in the very serious business of watching the giant, heavy duty thermometer until the fudge reached the desired temperature (a rather random 324 degrees Fahrenheit, I think) and then gasping dramatically along with a shop full of tourists as the hot fudge was poured into a metal cooling frame on the marble table with a loud, sizzling splash.

By the time I got down to the business of tasting, my mouth was practically watering with anticipation and the rows of richly coloured, smoothly sliced slabs of fresh fudge flavours all seemed too beautiful to pass up. On tasting the unique and interesting selection of flavours, it became obvious why the fudge is award-winning. From the rich chocolate and orange flavour (soft, deep chocolate with zingy flecks of real orange) to the peanut butter fudge (pure buttery genius reminiscent of eating sweet peanut butter straight from the jar), the composition and depth of flavour in each piece of fudge was spot on. The fudges varied in texture and finish but all produced an amazing balance of sweet decadence and depth of flavour. 

Nuttery Buttery and Chocolate Orange

I highly recommend the Nuttery Buttery for lovers of good old American peanut butter cups and naughty dips in the peanut butter jar. A lifelong chocoholic, my favourite by far was the Chocolate and Orange: the ultimate, melt in the mouth, chocolate fudge treat. If you're not a fan of crazy E numbers, rest assured that Fudge Kitchen uses natural flavourings and fresh ingredients - good to know as I tucked into piece after piece of the sweet, creamy Strawberries and Cream flavour, which tastes like childhood sweets and my mum's home-made ice cream desserts. There is a fudge flavour for every taste and every occasion. And if you can't decide, the classic toffee fudge is a real winner and tastes so authentic, it makes me think of Bonfire Night every time I pop a piece into my mouth. I'm reaching for another piece as I type...   

Classic Fudge and Strawberries and Cream

You can find out more about Fudge Kitchen by visiting the website, here.

You can also find the Cambridge shop on Facebook and follow Fudge Kitchen on Twitter.

Enjoy! :-)

A review produced for Fudge Kitchen

Cambridge Fudge Kitchen Shop
11 King's Parade
01223 350191