Harry would have pointed out that trouble didn't come much worse than having slugs pouring out of your mouth, but he couldn't; Hagrid's treacle toffee had cemented his jaws together. (Chamber UK 88-89, US 115) [Harry and Ron] hastily fed [Fang] treacle fudge from a tin on the mantelpiece, which glued his teeth together (Chamber UK 201, US 271). [Harry] was being made a cup of strong tea back in Hagrid's hut, with Ron and Hermione (Philosopher's UK 141 US 191).
As dumb Americans, our first question was this: what on God's green Earth is treacle? According to our research (on Wikipedia), it's a by-product of refining sugar and can be varying degrees of darkness. Golden syrup is light in color and will be used in treacle tart later this month, and black treacle is basically the same thing as molasses.
In the U.K. version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Hagrid makes both treacle toffee and treacle fudge. (In the U.S. version, it's changed to treacle fudge in all instances. Why bother editing that? I mean, Americans know what toffee is.) Treacle fudge doesn't seem to be a real thing in Britain -- Google searching only pulls up Harry Potter cooking websites, and our Expert British Person, Cam, had never heard of it. But treacle toffee is an actual British food! Otherwise known as bonfire toffee, it's commonly eaten on Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night.
[Jenne's note: Also, there's no way that fudge, even ruined by Hagrid's cooking skills, could cement anyone's jaws together, so maybe this is just a editing mistake? No matter, treacle fudge sounds tasty! And molasses fudge does seem to be a thing in the US, though I've never encountered it myself. Maybe it's a Southern thing?]
1. Butter a 9"x13" glass baking pan with butter. Line with parchment paper and butter again.
2. Put the sugar and hot water in a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Don't stir -- just tilt the pan to move it around.
3. Once the sugar is dissolved, add all the ingredients and put the candy thermometer in the liquid.
4. Boil until it reaches soft crack on the candy thermometer (270F/140C). Don't leave the pan unattended!
5. Tip the mixture into the baking sheet and let it cool.
6. Once it's hardened, break it up with a toffee hammer, or if you, like most people, don't own a specific hammer for toffee, you can use a rolling pin. Or you can just pick it up and drop it, like we did:
Did it measure up?
This candy is pleasant. It's not something I'd go out of my way to make or buy, but it's nice. It tastes a whole heck of a lot like Japanese kuro ame (black sugar candy), but it's softer, chewier, and stickier. It does an admirable job of cementing jaws together, just like it does in the book! I imagine it's absolutely terrible for your teeth.
2. Put the sugar, cream, butter and treacle into a saucepan. Heat to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter, stirring now and again.
3. Once the sugar is dissolved, put a sugar thermometer in the pan, making sure the end is completely covered by the syrup. Increase the heat and bring the syrup to a steady boil. Keep bubbling, stirring occasionally to stop the sugar from catching, until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (116C).
4. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to sit for 5 minutes, until the temperature drops to 110C. Stir in vanilla and a good pinch of salt.
5. Keep the sugar thermometer in the pan and beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until the temperature cools to about 60C. The fudge should be really thick and will have lost its gloss. Take out the thermometer and continue beating for a few more minutes.
6. Before it sets completely, pour the fudge into the prepared baking pan and smooth over the surface with a spatula. Leave to cool at room temperature overnight.
Did it measure up?
This was our first time ever making fudge for both of us, so we didn't know what a delicate chemical process it was. In other words, our fudge did not set. After cooling overnight, it was still definitely a liquid. Even after freezing, it was still spoonable.
After some reading, we believe we needed to let the sugar, cream, and treacle boil separately from the butter until it hit soft ball stage. Will try again.
The fudge failure is still pretty delicious though -- kind of like good raw chocolate chip cookie dough without the chocolate chips or the danger of salmonella poisoning. You could hardly taste the treacle; as Mary Berry would say, "it did not come through." We would leave the vanilla out next time to make a more treacly fudge.
TREACLE FUDGE ATTEMPT 2: FAIL
Since our first batch of treacle fudge didn’t go so great, we of course had to try again! First, though, we had to do our research, figure out what had gone wrong, and develop a better recipe that would set and taste more treacly. We consulted with the following sources and recipes:
Martha Stewart’s penuche fudge recipe
Taste of Home’s penuche fudge recipe
Most notably, these incredibly detailed pages devoted to fudge-making, based on recipes by a T.P. Skaarup who used to have a website. Super-helpful read -- a lot of the tips that were incorporated into our recipe were borrowed from their lessons.
Ingredients & Special Supplies:
1 cup (200g) golden caster sugar
1 cup (200g) brown sugar
⅔ cup (165g) heavy cream
½ cup (Oh crap, I forgot to write down the g measurement for this) treacle
5 oz (142g) butter
¼ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt or to taste
1. Important: check to make sure your candy thermometer is accurate by boiling water and making sure the thermometer reads 212F or 100C. Mine, for example, was a whole 9 degrees Celsius off, which is pretty significant -- that’s probably why our last batch was a runny fudge fail.
2. Line a baking pan (it’s better to use glass rather than metal, to keep it from cooling too quickly) with plastic wrap, leaving some overhang on all sides.
3. The boiling process is the most important part of making fudge. Bring heavy cream, sugar, and treacle to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. (Some recipes call for the butter to be boiled too, but we read on the T.P. Skaarup tribute site that this can result in poorly dissolved sugar and can mess up the soft ball test.) Reduce heat to medium and sustain a rolling boil (a rolling boil is a boil that can’t be stirred down), stirring frequently until it registers 114C or 237 degrees on the candy thermometer. Don’t scrape the sides to avoid adding crystals into the fudge.
4. Crucial: test the mixture by dropping a small amount into cold water and rolling it between your fingers. If it rolls into a ball that can be flattened, it's ready. If it dissolves, it’s not boiled enough. If the ball resists flattening, it’s overdone -- you should add a little milk, mix it in, and start again.
5. Remove from heat. Add butter and let it melt across the top. Once it's cooled a bit, add salt.
6. Mix by hand with a wooden spoon until it’s smooth and creamy, and has lost its shine. This took FOREVER. It’s nice to have a partner so you can take turns -- once it starts thickening, it’s tiring to mix for a long time.
7. Pour the mixture into the pan when it’s still just pourable. Don’t scrape the sides of the pot too much.
8. Let it cool overnight at room temperature. Fudge ripens, meaning it’ll become creamier, over the first 24 hours. Fudge should be stored in an air-tight container, with each layer separated by a sheet of wax paper. Fudge stored at room temperature in an air-tight container will last 7-14 days.
Did it measure up? Well, nuts. After all that research, the fudge still didn't set. I guess it's Hagrid-appropriate that our cooking isn't turning out terribly well. I can't believe we've conquered a 36-egg pound cake but FUDGE is beyond us. Never fear, we will continue this quest.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. London: Bloomsbury, 1997.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1997.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. London: Bloomsbury, 1997.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1999.