Since she was a child working alongside her mother, Mella McAuley has been making fudge. These days she’s selling her superb sweets to lucky fudge lovers across the UK – and it’s just as delicious as the days she and her mum would make it on their kitchen stove.
Few store-bought fudges can compete with homemade. Be it the texture or the taste, something often doesn’t quite add up. But for true fudge lovers, the Mella’s Fudge in your July Gin of the Month box is a revelation.
Crumbly in texture and delightfully buttery in taste, the fudge concealed in this lovely pink wrapper tastes like it’s just been poured out at home – which makes sense, considering that Mella and her fudge-loving mum discovered their special method after many years of experimenting over the kitchen stove.
“I remember that we tried every fudge recipe we came across,” Mella says of the adventures in fudge she undertook with her mum. “We ate liquid fudge – whatever we made, however wrong it went, we would eat it. It was just experimentation.”
But they knew the kind of fudge they wanted to be making: perfectly crumbly, with an irresistible balance of salty butter and sweet sugar. And when they found it, Mella immediately began making it for sale – though she was just a kid at the time.
Mella says, “Eventually we decided on one we really liked, and when I was in third year at school I would make some and sell it to the local sweet shop. I remember thinking, ‘100% profit, that’s fantastic!’.”
While Mella’s Fudge may be a more professional outfit now, its namesake is still there in the kitchen, working away at perfecting her fudge.
“There are just two and a half of us,” she says, “working in a little kitchen behind the Co-op just outside beautiful Clonakilty, in West Cork.”
So what’s Mella’s secret?
“First and foremost,” she says, “to be completely honest, is butter. It’s so important. A lot of fudge that you get is like icing sugar, and you can’t taste any butter. But you need something salty to balance the sweet.”
Along with using the best-quality Irish butter, Mella also uses a technique honed way back when, in her mum’s kitchen.
She explains: “When you make my fudge you take it off the heat and beat it until it loses its shine. That’s what gives it that crumbly texture, like Scottish tablet.”
These two secrets make the difference you can really taste in your vanilla fudge. Mella says, “I suppose that when most people think of fudge they think of vanilla fudge. It just shows off the butter and the texture, in its simplest form. It’s the most traditional.”
And your Mella’s bar happens to be the perfect portion for an after-dinner treat.
“This bar is perfect for one person to have after dinner, with a cup of tea, without feeling guilt,” Mella says. “It’s the same amount of calories as you average chocolate bar – sometimes even less. People think that fudge is going to be double the calories because they can taste butter, but it isn’t the case.”
So settle back, make up a brew and enjoy the summer sunset with your Mella’s Fudge.