Fudge. And that’s all I need to say about this post.
Kidding. Sort of. I love fudge. Really love fudge. But only good fudge. The kind you can get at a really good chocolate store. Rich and creamy and melts in your mouth (not to be confused with that *candy* that melts in your mouth, supposedly). And when it comes to fudge, I am a purist. Just chocolate for me please. Sure, I’ll try the others, with nuts, egg nog, pumpkin, cookies. They are all fine. Even made peanut butter for this post since hubby loves peanut butter. But I just want to savor my chocolate fudge. That’s all I need.
And this was the first time I had made fudge the way it is supposed to be made. No marshmallow fluff. No condensed milk. I’ve made those versions before. They are quick and easy. But not the real thing. And not nearly as tasty. I did the old fashioned way of cooking the chocolate mixture to 235F and then waiting. And waiting. And waiting for the full 24 hours for the chocolate to completely set so you can then start nibbling. One piece here, just one more there. Oh fudge.
My hubby also loves fudge as much as I do, but his love is split between chocolate and peanut butter. The peanut butter fudge turned out good, but not amazing. It was a bit dry (but got better as the days went on) and I think that was because I used fresh ground hippy, dippy, and trippy peanut butter instead of those awful brands Skippy, Jif, and whatever other company dares to call their “product” peanut butter. I’ll spare you the ingredient list this time, but those products have who knows what else added to the peanut butter. The product I used just had peanut butter. It had great peanut butter taste, just was a bit dry.
The perk about this peanut butter fudge is that it is really easy to make. I actually made the peanut butter fudge while waiting for the chocolate fudge to cook. Yup, that easy. Just melt the butter and peanut butter together, make a mess while adding powdered sugar, and voila! Peanut butter fudge!
Meanwhile, you’ll still be waiting for the chocolate fudge to rise to the proper temperature. It will be worth your wait. Might as well clean your kitchen, since if you are like me, you will have powered sugar everywhere.
And who doesn’t like to receive fudge as a gift, all wrapped up and pretty? It’s a sweet gift and from the heart.
Both recipes came from Brown Eyed Baker, who subsequently got the recipes from Joy of Cooking, which, sadly, I do not own. It’s a classic and I should have it. Maybe for Christmas. Thanks, Brown Eyed Baker for the fudge inspiration!
Yield: About 64 1 inch pieces
Difficulty: Easy to Medium
Prep Time: 1 hour | Chill Time: 24 hours
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup half-and-half
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil that extends over the sides. Butter the foil and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, half-and-half, heavy cream, light corn syrup and salt. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, for 1 minute. Brush down the sites of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in warm water to remove any sugar crystals that may have formed, and remove from the heat. (Do not do this repeatedly – you will be adding extra water if you do this over and over again. Just once is fine.)
3. Stir in the chocolate until melted and completely smooth. Set the pan over medium heat and place a candy thermometer in the pan. Cook the mixture, without stirring, until it reaches 238 degrees F, the soft-ball stage. Remove from the heat.
4. Add the butter and vanilla but just let float on top – do not stir in (stirring at this point can cause graininess).
5. Cool the candy to 110 degrees F by placing the bottom of the pan in cold water to stop the cooking. This will take awhile, especially since you can’t stir.
6. When it is cool, stir the fudge in the pan with a wooden spoon just until it “snaps” and begins to lose its sheen.You will notice that it will be really shiny, and then almost dull. That’s when you are done. (Alternately, transfer the cooled fudge to the bowl of a heavy duty mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the fudge on low speed until it begins to thicken and lose its sheen, 5 to 10 minutes. Watch the mixture carefully or it may thicken too much and become unworkable.) I used my handheld KitchenAid mixer and it worked great…but…it has a very low speed 1. If your handheld does not have a low speed 1 (and many of the “bargain” ones don’t) I would not recommend this.
7. Stir in the walnuts if you are using them. Turn the fudge out into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with an offset spatula, moving quickly and keeping the spatula on the chocolate until you are done spreading. This will minimize the mess. Let stand for at least 1 hour.
8. Use a large knife to score the fudge into 1-inch squares (optional – it will still cut nicely when set) Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours.
9. Remove the fudge from the pan and peel off the foil. Use the knife to finish cutting the fudge into squares. The fudge can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. It can also be stored at room temperature if it won’t last long. And it won’t. Serve at room temperature.
Peanut Butter Fudge
Yield: 64 1 in pieces (1½ pounds)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
1¼ cups (10 ounces) unsalted butter
1¼ cups smooth peanut butter
Pinch of salt
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
4½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
1. Butter an 8-inch non-stick baking dish (or line with buttered parchment paper) and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter and peanut butter until the mixtures comes to a boil. Remove from the heat. (It will all fit in a medium saucepan, but using a large one will help minimize the powdered sugar mess.)
3. Add the salt and vanilla extract, then stir in the powdered sugar until smooth and no lumps remain.
4. Pour the fudge mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the fudge and refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour. Cut into squares and serve. Fudge can be stored at cool room temperature in an airtight container.