There are sweet makers, and there are sweet eaters, and I am firmly in the latter camp. Though I don't mind a cathartic cooking sesh, my main goal - during the holidays especially - is to churn out the treats. This is why this fudge, which takes less than five minutes of your active time, gets made every single Christmas.
Photos by Claire Lower.
If there was ever an ever-present Christmas confection during my youth, it was the haystack. Neither lolly nor cookie, this unassuming, almost too easy treat simply has no business being as addictive as it is.
The recipe is so simple, it almost feels like cheating. Besides salt and vanilla, which I bet you already have, you'll need an 340g bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a 400g can of sweetened condensed milk.
These guys are the real heroes.
Pour these two in a microwave safe bowl, along with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and give everything a stir. You can also add a cup and a half of nuts, dried fruit (why though?), or mini marshmallows, if you like. Pop it in the microwave for a minute, stir again, and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until the chips are completely melted. Stir in a teaspoon of vanilla, transfer to a 23cm(ish) square pan lined with baking or wax paper, and smooth out the top. Then you wait.
Once the fudge is matte on top and completely firm - this will take a couple of hours in a cool, dry place - lift it from the pan by its paper and transfer it to a cutting board. Cut it into squares, eat five pieces in a manner most unbecoming of your station, and store the rest in an airtight container at room temperature.
Enjoy your very easy, but still creamy, rich and slightly crystalline confection. I don't know if the lack of laborious stirring, boiling sugar and temperature monitoring makes it taste better, but it doesn't hurt.