Eight judges, seven competing shops, 14 new fudge flavours, one winner …
Windsor wins Fudge Kitchen’s “retro sweet” themed ‘New Year New Flavour’ competition with an uncanny Sherbet Fountain fudge, available online and in stores from the end of February …
The Fudge Kitchen ‘Judge My Fudge’ strapline, confidently emblazoned across their t-shirts and shops, was never more serious than on Wednesday 22nd January, when entries for the New Year New Flavour competition were judged at the Fudge Kitchen production facility in Aylesham, Kent.
A sweet-toothed panel included FK MD, Sian Holt, members of the management team, The Kent Foodie’s Matt Bevan and Gill Eaglestone, a social media competition winner from Boughton-under-Blean in Kent. All sampled their way through two entries from each of the seven Fudge Kitchen shops in Canterbury, Cambridge, Oxford, York, Edinburgh, Windsor and Bath; marking each on their appearance, texture and flavour, with the highest score earning the winning recipe a permanent place in the hallowed pages of the Fudge Kitchen recipe book.
“Fudge Kitchen is all about innovation,” explains MD, Sian Holt, “over 36 years, we have grown a menu of well over 60 unique, original flavours across our slab fudge range, which is made daily in our seven shops. New Year New Flavour is an annual competition to keep encouraging creativity and product development, often with an on-trend theme. Last year’s was ‘vegan fudge’, with an exceptional dairy free Hazelnut Chocolate fudge winning the crown for our Bath shop. This year picked up on the vintage vibe, with a ‘retro sweets’ theme following the launch last year of our “Tuck Shop Sharer” selection; and produced a genuine trip down memory lane … pocket money clutched tightly in hand!
Across a tantalising kaleidoscope of swirled, striped and speckled slices of fresh whipping cream fudge, the panel worked their way through a veritable Olde Sweete Shoppe of vintage flavours, reincarnated as handmade fudge with ingenious accuracy, including Parma Violet, Chocolate & Lime, Drumstick, Rhubarb & Custard, Bubble Gum, Liquorice Toffee and Candy Cane.
Said guest judge, Gill Eaglestone, by day a Researcher in Sports at Canterbury Christ Church University, “When I walked into the tasting room I was really wowed; there was such a variety of exciting flavours, all with a retro sweet flavour theme. Some of the names sounded quite ambitious like ‘Sherbet Fountain’ and I wondered how it would be possible to translate this flavour to a fudge. The ‘Drumstick’ entry even consisted of two different coloured halves joined together like the original: the judges were very impressed by the skill needed to create it. Some of the flavours were spot on, exactly capturing the retro sweet flavour I remember! I have definitely found my new favourite flavour though – Rhubarb and Custard fudge, which tasted just like the old-fashioned boiled sweets.”
And the winner is …
The fudge was tasted (a few times – just to be sure) and a confectionery conflab ensued over the merits of each entry’s textures (too bitty … too soft … too dry); whether the colour and appearance spoke of the flavour (needs to be redder … greener … brighter) and whether it would appeal to customers. The scores told all, however, and the podium was set out as follows …
- 1st – Sherbet Fountain (Windsor FK)
- Joint 2nd – Rhubarb & Custard (Bath FK) and Liquorice Toffee (Canterbury FK)
- Joint 3rd – Chocolate Lime and Candy Cane (both Cambridge FK)
In true FK tradition, there were some strokes of confectionery genius on show. The technically brilliant milk and raspberry ‘cut and shut’ Drumstick from Canterbury, for example (left), the ‘all-natural’ FK adherence of using spinach to green the Apple Sour of Oxford; the how-do-they-do-it exactitude of Cambridge’s Lime & Chocolate, and the sheer beauty of the rippled Rhubarb & Custard from Bath, for starters.
But ultimately, there can be but one winner and it had to be Windsor’s superlative rendering of the iconic Sherbet Fountain, first launched onto the sweet market in 1975 and soon available in its fudge incarnation online at www.fudgekitchen.co.uk and in Fudge Kitchen shops from the end of February 2020. Said Windsor’s manager, Matt Young, and creator of the immaculate confection, “I’ve made something like 500,000 slices of fudge in the time I’ve worked at fudge kitchen (I’ve done the maths). I honestly thought I was running dry on ideas and then, like the dynamite shaped candy itself, BOOM! Sherbet Fountain Fudge exploded into existence. It was a first try success, sherbet fudge with a liquorice swirl. As I’m leaving the company soon it’s nice to leave one more recipe in the book.”
And what a legacy. Matt has created a truly uncanny replica of the sweet sharpness of sherbet, mixed with rich brown swirls of bitter, salty liquorice, packed into sweet, creamy, fresh fudge … and proved itself to be a (Dib) Dab hand at fudge-making yet again. We salute them!