This treat will keep for two to three weeks when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. We recommend that you use nonstick baking paper to line the container and separate the layers of fudge.
Lightly butter an 18cm square cake tin or line with foil. Put the evaporated milk, sugar and butter into a heavy-based saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring all the time, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted.
Bring to the boil and boil stirring for 20 minutes. The mixture should become thicker, and a glossy brown colour. If you have a sugar thermometer, allow the mixture to reach ‘Soft Ball' stage (115°C). If you don't have a thermometer, cook until the mixture is golden brown and thickened and then drop a little into a glass of cold water. You should be able to pick the cooled drop up and roll it between thumb and forefinger. If still too liquid, cook for another five minutes and try again. Allow the mixture to continue to boil for another five to ten minutes, stirring all the time. Then take off the heat and allow the fudge to cool for five minutes.
Using an electric hand-held mixer, beat the mixture in the pan until it starts to thicken, looses its gloss and changes texture from smooth to slightly gritty. Add vanilla. Add nuts or dried fruit if you like and stir in. Pour into the prepared tin and leave to set. Once set, cut the fudge into approx 45 small squares. When cool, you can divide between cellophane bags to give as gifts.