Heavenly Fudge

Dear Boys,

Heavenly fudge.  That is what Southern Living calls it.  Since it’s their recipe, we shan’t change the name.

The mother of one of my dearest childhood friends is a fudge master – among many wonderful things.

She was also our sixth-grade teacher.  She had this neat blend of a no-nonsense-we-are-here-to-work persona that was intermingled with a true joy and desire to live fully.  I can still hear her laugh even now.

One of the fun things she did in class was buy our hiccups.  Yes, I said buy.  When one of us would get going and be unable to rid ourselves of the annoyance, she would walk back to the hiccuping child’s desk, plop a dollar bill on it, and say, “If you can hiccup again, you can have this dollar.”

I don’t think I ever saw one of us be able to come up with another hiccup in order to pad our pockets.

The power to purchase hiccups.  Amazing!

Another of her talents is her ability with a needle and thread.  She once took apart a much-enjoyed, worn article of clothing and used those remnants as the pattern pieces to construct a brand new one.  Also amazing!

Her fudge was one of my favorites, though.  Ahh.  Her fudge literally melts in your mouth.  I tried for years to duplicate it and had just about given up.  Then your sister found this recipe from Southern Living, and I tried again.  It wasn’t perfect the first time, but it was closer to Mrs. Sullivan’s, and so I kept trying.

Even now, hers would win the blue ribbon against mine any day, but ours is edible at this point.  We usually make it every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The thing that I think has made the biggest difference in  fudge making is being prepared.  Once the fudge gets going, you really need to be ready for the next step.

There are two methods of addressing this need:

DSC_0088One is to find a sweet helper like yourself.

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The other is to pre-measure the ingredients and have them ready to go when you need them.

The first option is my favorite, of course.

Here is the recipe if you want to give it a go.

DSC_0023You’ll need some evaporated milk.  Make sure you avoid my dreadful mistake of substituting sweetened condensed milk that I described here!

DSC_0026This recipe calls for 2/3 cup evaporated milk.  One can has enough to make two batches of fudge.  So, of course, I usually make two.

DSC_0028Add to the milk 1 2/3 cup sugar.

DSC_0040Next you’ll need 2 Tablespoons butter.

All of these things go into a large saucepan.  If you have that great help I mentioned earlier, you can proceed at this point with the next step.

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If not, stop here and measure into a bowl (I used an ice cream bucket) 2 cups miniature marshmallows and  1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Just set these aside until you are ready for them.

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The other prep work you can do if you don’t have an assistant is to line a small baking dish (approximately 8×8) with wax paper.DSC_0042

Then you can set the large saucepan containing the milk, sugar and butter onto the stove and turn it on medium heat.

DSC_0044You’ll need to grab your candy thermometer.

Note about candy thermometers: they are not meant to be submerged and left to soak in a sink of warm, soapy water.  The condensation that will occur makes for very difficult reading as you can see.

Thankfully, my sweet mama got me a new candy thermometer for Christmas, and I shall handle this one much more carefully.

DSC_0050Clip the thermometer on to the side of the pan, making sure the tip does not touch the bottom of the pan.  It should be submerged in the liquid but not touching the metal so that it gets an accurate reading of the candy mixture.

You need to cook these fudge beginnings until they get to 234 degrees.  This is called the soft ball stage in candy making lingo.  The name comes from the fact that if you were to put a drop of this mixture when it is 234 degrees in a cup of cold water, it would form a soft ball in the water, one that would mash between your fingers upon removal from the water.

So, technically, if you find yourself without a thermometer, you could use this hands-on method of determining the proper temperature.

Expect to stand and stir while the mixture is heating.  It will take about 5-7 minutes to reach the soft ball stage.

Once that occurs, you need to be ready to go.

The first step is to remove the pan from the heat.

DSC_0048Then you add 2 teaspoons vanilla to the sugar mixture.

DSC_0052If you have a helper, he or she can measure the marshmallows and chocolate chips while you stir.  If you don’t, grab the pre-measured 2 cups miniature marshmallows and  1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips and add to the pan.

DSC_0059Start stirring immediately and keep stirring until the chocolate chips are melted.

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Pour the hot fudge into the wax paper-lined dish.  (Note:  This batch looks lumpy not because the chips aren’t melted, but because this photograph is from the second batch which contains chopped pecans.  Hot fudge without nuts will be smooth when you pour it into the dish.)

DSC_0066Smooth the fudge with a spoon and

DSC_0068put in the fridge to cool.

DSC_0071When it is fully cooled, the wax paper will help you pick it up from the dish.

DSC_0073Place on a cutting board and remove the wax paper.

DSC_0089Keep cutting until the entire block is finished.

DSC_0093Store the fudge – or prepare for gifting – by lining a tin with a new sheet of wax paper.

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Note:  If you like nuts in your fudge, add 1 cup of them when you add the marshmallows and chocolate chips. This batch has pecans.  Will, I like your idea of adding peanuts.  (Chopping nuts would be another thing to do before heating the milk, sugar and butter or to have someone else do while you are stirring.)

DSC_0099Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

I love you,

Mom

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