There were two good reasons to make this fudge. Firstly, I really loved reading my copy of Alice B. Toklas’ cookbook from which this well known recipe comes. The book is filled with interesting recipes (a fish cooked for Picasso, for example) interspersed with stories of her time spent in France during the Second World War (Gertrude Stein and Toklas driving in a Model T called “Aunt Pauline”, while volunteering for the American Fund for French Wounded). She writes so evocatively, and with great humour.
I love the way in which she likens killing a carp to a Dashiell Hammett novel :
I let go of my grasp and looked to see what had happened. Horror of horrors. The carp was dead, killed, assassinated, murdered in the first, second and third degree. Limp, I fell into a chair, with my hands still unwashed reached for a cifarette, lighted it, and waited for the police to come and take me into custody. After a second cigarette my courage returned and I went to prepare poor Mr Carp for the table.
Having enjoyed the book, I had every intention of attempting the fudge recipe but for awhile after, both the book and the recipe slipped completely from my mind. Then recently, I came across an article on Allegra McEvedy who features the recipe in her latest release. I don’t know much about her but apparently in the past she ran the kitchen at Robert De Niroâ€™s New York restaurant Tribeca Grill, has been involved in cooking for President Clinton, and is now a founding partner of Leon in London, which won the 2005 Observer food award for Best New Restaurant. When she got married to her partner Susi Smithers, they had a tier of cheeses worth $2500 as a wedding cake. And if that wasn’t enough of a foodie’s dream come true, Heston Blumenthal was also on canape duty that day!
Having been reminded of Alice B. Toklas, I resolved to make this fudge, but sans the hash, which I don’t have any of. Hashless or not, McEvedy recommends the fudge as a figgy, sticky, spicy treat. In her version of the recipe, she substitutes the seeds of a vanilla pod for the 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon because she doesn’t like cinnamon). On tasting, B said that this sweet reminded him of all the components of boiled cake, but in fudge form : most definitely a good thing. My drug of choice while making this was Idlewild’s 100 Broken Windows, which quite coincidentally has that track Roseability in it.
Hashish Fudge :
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
a scratch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
a handful of stoned dates (ha ha, she says)
a handful of dried figs
a handful of flaked almonds
a bunch of Cannabis sativa leaves (or you can just crumble in some hash or weed)
140g light brown sugar
Toast the peppercorns and the coriander seeds in a small frying pan on a high heat until they start to smell wonderful. Put them with some nutmeg scrapings and the cinnamon (if you wish) into a pestle and mortar/coffee grinder and pulverise.
Chop the fruit and nuts and mix them in a bowl. Sprinkle on the spices and add the cannabis in whatever form you have – if it’s leaves they will have to be pounded first (i.e. in the pestle and mortar with the seeds and cinnamon), but hash or weed can be crumbled in with the other spices.
Dissolve the sugar and the butter in a heavy-based sauce pan over a low heat. When the sugar has melted, the mixture will be separated : melted butter floating on top of a slightly bubbling brown sugary goo. SLowly bring to the boil – don’t let it catch on the bottom of the pan -stirring briskly with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to boil and come together. Keep stirring until it is a thicker, foamier texture. Mix in the fruity bits, take off the heat and beat thoroughly. The fruit will break down and make it even smoother. (If you are left with a little melted butter in the pan, drain it off, and use some kitchen paper to de-grease the fudge mix.)
Line a tray with a piece of buttered greaseproof paper and push the fudge into it, or Alice suggests rolling it into individual walnut-sized pieces. Cool to room temperature in the larder overnight, in the fridge if you’re in a hurry, or in the freezer if you’re desperate.
Shelf life : weeks and weeks.
Best kept: in an airtight box in the larder or fridge.
(On a more savoury note, we just got back from a quick meal at a little hole-in-the-wall called Ryo’s Noodles in Crows Nest. B went here once with Calamari, and it’s only now that he’s taken me to try their ramen – I can’t believe he’s been keeping mum about this place for so long. Ryo’s Noodles is great – it’s tiny, the entire menu is plastered on the wall in Japanese, the piping hot bowls of noodles come to your table quickly and it’s all immensely satisfying. I don’t know how it compares to the more well-known Ichi-ban Boshi, but I reckon it’s definitely up there. If you go, order the Ramen with Spicy Pork Soup – moist slices of pork and bouncy noodles in a deliciously slurpable hot sauce – you’ll love every bite of it.)