I didn’t mean to abandon you and your holiday treat needs. Treat number four was delayed by an unfortunate turn of events that left me with two treats that didn’t quite turn out, and NO BUTTER.
I tried to find a treat that didn’t require butter, but then I came to my senses and went to the grocery store.
Treat number four is the holiday classic: fudge. This isn’t your easy peasy marshmallow cream fantasy fudge–this is the real deal. Break out your courage and your candy thermometer and prepare to be wildly successful, or fail miserably. Candy is temperamental, but that’s part of the fun. And frankly, while your failures may not be gift-worthy, they will still be delicious.
My dad, who is famous for his cookies, is also known for making fudge. During the holiday season, he churns out batch after batch of chocolate and penuche fudge. He also made chocolate fudge as the favor for my wedding.
Now that I finally made it myself, I can truly appreciate how hard it is. Mentally, because it doesn’t always turn out, and physically, because you have to stir the heck out of it. This whole treat is based on the careful rising and lowering of the sugar’s temperature to achieve the perfect consistency.
You can probably tell from my photograph, mine turned out a little soft. Still very yummy, but tricky to cut. You can use the recipe below to make penuche fudge (also known as brown sugar fudge), or see the note below to make chocolate (which according to my father, is the more reliable of the two.)
Quick tip: If you doubt the accuracy of your candy thermometer, bring a pot of water to boil and slip the thermometer in. It should read 212 degrees.
Penuche Fudge (from the original, three-ring binder, old-school Betty Crocker cookbook)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup whole milk
2 T corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
2 T butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1) In a 2 quart saucepan (don’t try to use a bigger one, or failure is inevitable), bring sugars, milk, corn syrup, and salt to a boil while stirring constantly. When the sugar is dissolved, clip in your candy thermometer and let cook over medium-heat until it reaches 234 degrees, stirring occasionally.
2) Remove pot from heat, and stir in butter. Let mixture cool to 120 degrees without stirring. (You can pour it into another pot or set the pot in cool water to speed this up.)
3) Now for the fun! Add vanilla, and beat the fudge vigorously for 5-7 minutes until it changes from shiny and glossy to a smooth matte finish. The cookbook says to do this with a wooden spoon, I did it with a whisk. I was tempted to just dump it in my stand-mixer, but that seemed like an easy way out that would probably doom me to rock-hard fudge. So I stirred, and stirred, and stirred…
When the fudge loses its shine, dump it into a buttered standard loaf pan, or some other vessel of choice. I used an 8×8 baking pan, but that was a little too big, leaving me with thin fudge squares. You could also line your pan with buttered parchment, and then lift it out after cooling for easier cutting.
Chocolate variation: Replace 1 cup brown sugar with 1 cup white sugar, and add 1/3 cup cocoa in the first step with the sugars and milk.