It's difficult for me to write a blog about cakes/baking/all things light and fluffy at this moment in time because, to be honest with you, such matters seem so trivial in the grand scheme of world events.
I'm finding it hard to find comfort in the simple pleasures of life when I wake every day to find that another ill-informed political decision has been made which tramples all over the rights of helpless, terrified innocents; when I read every day that there's been yet another Trumpertantrum on Twitter that is serving only to increase hatred and division between people; when I am faced every waking moment with the knowledge that a megalomaniacal, crazed, inarticulate ("bad dudes"? Really?!) buffoon is now "leader of the nominally free world and thus democracy has essentially jumped the shark". Worse still, that other world leaders are supporting him.
It's proving difficult not to feel bereft of hope; and yet, twisted as this may sound, I know I must take comfort in the fact that I am not alone in feeling so. Because for all the crazy people there are out there who support the right-wing, egocentric twits leading the world into what feels like Armageddon, there are millions who are outraged; who decry this silly, little, fake orange neo-fascist with his terrible toupee, and all his appeasers; who like me are protesting in whatever ways they can and helping those who are suffering however much they can. Their actions give me hope that at least the whole world hasn't lost the plot; there are still some who care.
I also know that seeking comfort or momentary escape in the small things that offer us reprieve - albeit temporary reprieve - is sometimes necessary for our sanity. So whilst I haven't actually baked this month, at some point soon I promise to pick up my spatula again and bake something that might bring a smile to not just my face, but the faces of those around me too, most of whom feel just as despairing.
In the meantime I would like to share a recipe with you for something I made towards the end of last year, in the hope that it will bring you a little bit of joy. Indeed, it makes a great gift, so why not make it for someone else: a small show that humanity is still capable of sharing the love.
Adapted very slightly from Nigella
- 350g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa), chopped
- 397g can condensed milk
- 30g butter
- 150g nuts (I used a mix of pistachios and predominantly hazelnuts)
- Pinch of Maldon salt
Start by tipping the hazelnuts into a clean, dry frying pan and toasting them over a medium heat, tossing regularly to ensure they toast evenly. This should take 5-6 minutes (or until they start to emit a nutty aroma). Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Once cool, put the toasted nuts into a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin until they are broken up into a rubble of large and small pieces then set aside.
Place the chopped chocolate, condensed milk and butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and slowly melt over a low heat, stirring every now and then with a spatula.
Once the mix has melted, add the bashed nuts and stir well to combine.
Pour the mix into a 9" square baking tin, smoothing the top with a spatula.
Cool slightly, then scatter the salt lightly and evenly over the top and refrigerate to set.
Once set, cut the fudge into pieces as big or small as you like. I cut mine into roughly 2cm squares, which yielded about 65 pieces. This may seem a lot, but you can freeze it too (and eat straight from frozen if you like). I refrigerated all the pieces and actually found they tasted much nicer after 4-5 days in the fridge - this seemed to give the fudge time to develop in depth and creaminess, as well as allowing the salt to dissolve on the surface and meld in with the fudge better.