Wander down Lower Petergate and you will undoubtedly notice the number of pedestrians that come to an abrupt halt outside The Fudge Kitchen. With the rich scent of fudge wafting into the street and the permanent promise of a “Free Sample!” even the most determined of shoppers will find it hard to resist. Once inside, customers will usually be found gathered around the counter, peering at the array of flavours with hands outstretched for a taste of the delectable treat. All the fudge is gluten free, and, from the bittersweet ‘Lemon Meringue Pie’ to the luxurious ‘Belgian Chocolate Swirl’, the Fudge Kitchen caters for all appetites and can easily satisfy most. Although I would normally be amongst the crowd of eager sample-seekers, I recently bypassed the fudge for the kitchen in order to interview Assistant Manager, Ian McCluskey. As the fudge is made in-store, Ian was able to inform me of the fudge-making process, whilst preparing a fresh batch.
Here’s how he makes that magical ‘Mocha’ flavour…
Ian began by melting down coffee and chocolate fudge in a rustic, gleaming cauldron. No fudge goes to waste at The Fudge Kitchen and he explained how, through ensuring a certain temperature is not exceeded, it can be reheated indefinitely without impacting the flavour.
As the two flavours melted into liquid, he told me about the origins of The Fudge Kitchen. Founded by Jim Garrahy in 1983, their fudge is made using the traditional American method, rather than the British alternative. Ian explained the benefits of this: “Butter is traditionally used in British fudge. In this country, they used to add butter, condensed milk and clotted cream because dairy was a lot cheaper than sugar. This affects the outcome of the fudge. The British style is thicker and has the flavour of butter and condensed milk.” Unlike British fudge, the American alternative uses only a little whipping cream and eliminates the other dairy products, thus resulting in a much smoother, lighter fudge.
As Ian checked the thermometer, he informed me of the requirements, aside from accuracy, for those working in the kitchen. He emphasised the “performance element”, and with the kitchen serving as the epicentre of the shop, this is immediately apparent. As customers lingered to get a glimpse of the process, it was clear that the fudge-making is just as alluring as the finished product. Ian joked that the liquid fudge can be used, not only on sundaes, but also “slathered on your partner” or “alone, with a spoon, listening to Adele”, revealing the comedy in the cooking. This playful attitude appears to have filtered into the fudge too, bringing with it a gentle hint of nostalgia. With quintessential childhood flavours, such as ‘Bakewell Tart’ sometimes making appearances and the invitation for customers to suggest their own flavours (I’m rooting for carrot cake), everyone can get creative. And as customers can also purchase the opportunity to join in and make the fudge themselves, there is a rare sense of public involvement being encouraged and actually cherished here.
As the fudge reached optimum temperature, Ian asked fellow fudge-maker, Lily, to help pour it out. The surface of the table was soon transformed into a gleaming rectangle of molten fudge. As the steam filled the kitchen, the smell of hot sugar was almost tangible; I could actually taste the coffee. Ian began to manipulate the fudge and as I found myself accepting yet another sample of the ‘Mulled Wine’ flavour; I couldn’t help but wonder how they don’t all need increasingly large aprons. Ian explained: “It’s very physical making the fudge. The most I’ve made in a day was 26 batches, which equates to a quarter of a ton of fudge.” So those working in the kitchen have an excuse, but what about the customers? Well, it’s very low fat in comparison to its dairy-laden alternatives. The only fat in this fudge is the small dose of whipping cream. Of course, it’s full of sugar, but weight is only considered here when hoping that the scales will reveal your slab of fudge to be a generous one. Just as it should be.
Having been swirled, smoothed and practically thrown into the air, Ian’s fudge was ready to take form. He moulded it into a baguette shape and then repeated the entire process with a vanilla fudge, which provided the topping. With a generous dusting of cocoa, the ‘Mocha Fudge’ was finished with a flourish and ready to sell.
The Fudge Kitchen can be found at 58 Low Petergate, YO1 7HZ.