Rob Whitehead is on a mission to update the image of traditional British fudge. His Harrogate-based company has helped us come up with some exciting new flavours for our Extra Special range. Here he tells us more …
When you say “fudge” to people they tend to think of seaside holidays or grannies in pinafores. I think that image is doing fudge a disservice. What we try to do at The Serious Sweet Company is change the image fudge has and come up with exciting new flavours.
Our crumbly fudge is handmade in the spa town of Harrogate. We already make Salted Caramel Fudge and Clotted Cream Fudge for Asda and they asked us to come up with some new ideas for Easter. Together we decided on a Hot Cross Bun fudge which we think Asda customers will love. We’ve taken traditional hot cross bun flavours like lemon zest and cinnamon and turned them into fudge which is absolutely delicious.
We use time-honoured methods, boiling the ingredients in copper pans to a high set temperature to get the perfect caramelisation. We then hand pour into trays and leave the fudge to cool naturally – this allows for the sugars to crystallise, slowly forming it’s mouth-watering, short crumbly texture.
I have always loved fudge because my mum made it when I was a boy. Fudge is an impulse buy – it’s a real treat. I started selling on market stalls and I still do the Harrogate Christmas show because I love talking to customers. I know it's not just older people who love fudge – it's all ages. People will tell me they keep a packet in the car so they can have a piece on the way home after a long day. Or they’ll have a piece after the school run with a coffee if they’re meeting up with a friend.
Fudge should melt in your mouth. If you pop a piece in your mouth you get a slight texture and then, when the butter melts, all of a sudden you get the full flavours. It should sit around the back of your mouth and have body to it, like a good wine. A lot of commercial fudge is high in sugar and low in butter because it’s cheaper to make; ours is high in butter and lower in sugar so it has a richness and depth of flavour to it. People will say to me, "This is the real fudge".
We also make toffee, honeycomb, butterscotch, nut brittles and coconut ice and most recently we’ve started to make gourmet marshmallows: we make the Pink Gin Marshmallows and Mint Chocolate Marshmallows for Asda’s Extra Special range.
Asda are doing some really exciting things with their Extra Special range and I think they've really got it right with their packaging - it's a brand to be proud of. We’re already working with them on some exciting new flavours and products for the Christmas range.