Sunday, December 16, 2012

Taste This

My mom is the world's best fudge maker. Actually, she's the universe's best fudge maker. Her recipe is incredibly simple and contains just cream, butter, cocoa powder, corn syrup, white and brown sugars, and vanilla. I've tried for my entire adult life to replicate her fudge even with her standing at my side guiding me, and I Just. Can't. Make. Her. Fudge.

Our family simply can't celebrate Christmas without fudge. So I gave up on Mom's recipe and went in search of another that produced a confection tasty enough to replace Mom's, because it was unthinkable that I would actually buy some. In 1981, a co-worker shared her family fudge recipe with me. Mmmmmm. It's not as good as Mom's but has been a sure-fire success all these years. I could count on JoAnn's fudge to be perfect every time.Yes! JoAnn saves Christmas! And there was much holiday rejoicing! Perfect fudge every Christmas!

Until Friday.

I was watching the terrible news unfold about the Connecticut shooting. I kept the news channels up on my television and even though I had muted the sound, I just couldn't seem to drag my attention away from this heart-wrenching scene. As I continued to watch, my sadness and anxiety grew, and I tried to think of something that I could do that would make me feel.......better......or productive.....or anything different than what I was experiencing at the time.

My most effective coping mechanisms always begin by tying an apron around my waist and reaching for my recipe box. Which is exactly what I did since I could work in the kitchen and still keep an eye on the television in the family room. So I decided to make this year's batch of fudge. It would be an easy thing to do, I thought. And fool-proof. I gathered all the ingredients and set to work.

And -- y'all saw this coming, I just know it -- of course I goofed up. The recipe begins by combining sugar and a can of condensed milk and boiling it for ten minutes. Which I did -- but also threw a pound of butter in for good measure.

I boiled the butter. A real no-no in this particular candy recipe. The butter is supposed to be added to the cooked sugar mixture after it's boiled. So it can get all melty and creamy and......


Ok. I'm back from Candyland....

I looked at the pan full of ingredients and decided I just couldn't waste all of that stuff, so I let the mixture boil. After which I added the other stuff, and put it in the mixer, and spread it in a pan and refrigerated it. I anxiously waited for it to firm up, then popped a sample into my mouth.

Hm. It wasn't terrible. As a matter of fact, it was pretty good. The texture was different: not velvety and creamy like the original, just a bit grainy, and undeniably yummy. But not MY fudge. Dang. I had enough ingredients for another batch, so I paid careful attention and whipped out another pan-full. This one was splendidly perfect. Mmmmm. John came by and asked why I had made two big pans of fudge. I told him that the first batch was a mistake, so he devoured a piece of the flawed fudge and looked at me as if I were crazy.

"It's great. I think you're crazy."


When Terese and Greg came by later, I forcibly made them eat fudge samples from each batch (which wasn't hard to do) and asked them to decide if they could tell the difference. They could -- but they couldn't choose which batch actually was better. Several samples later, they STILL couldn't decide. I sent them home with a big plateful.

Here's Mom's recipe for fudge for those brave enough to try it:
Lucille's Chocolate Fudge

  • 2C white sugar
  • 1C brown sugar
  • 3 T butter
  • 1/4 c white corn syrup (use the mixing spoon with the little rose on the handle and fill it about 3/4 of the way)
  • 1C cream
  • 3 and 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

Combine in a heavy pan and bring to a rolling boil. When the bubbles change from frothy little ones to bigger more defined ones, remove from heat.  (I am SO NOT kidding about her directions here. I tried using a candy thermometer -- which my mom has never owned -- and I think it's somewhere around the soft ball stage.)
Set the pan in cold water to cool. Then beat vigorously by hand and when the candy becomes thick and looks satiny, add:

  • chopped nuts
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Spread in wax-paper lined 9x13 inch pan. Cool.
I double-dog dare anyone out there to successfully make this fudge.

Here's my recipe:
JoAnne's Chocolate Fudge

  • 4 and 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 - 13 ounce can evaporated whole milk
  • 1 pound salted butter
  • 18 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (a bag and a half)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped nuts

Place sugar and milk in a heavy saucepan. Bring to rolling boil and let boil for exactly ten minutes. Remove from heat and add butter and chocolate chips, stir until melted. Beat with a mixer on medium speed until cooled and thick, about ten minutes. Fold in vanilla and nuts. Pour into wax paper lined large jelly roll pan.

The morale of this rambling story? Guess there isn't one, except that I probably should look for other coping devices that don't include melting an entire pound of butter.


Amy Junod said...

I swear, SWEAR that I can smell it's creamy deliciousness lofting it's way here. Yum!

Unknown said...

We also make fudge and have the same issues! Recipe is different and firmer. Not near as much butter and u have to cook it forever and still sometimes it stil does not set up. FUN! Thanks for sharing!

Gertrude said...

That is funny! I have your fudge recipe and it says "Julia's Moms Fudge" but it is really Joanne's I have been making. Mine is a bit soft this year. Must not have boiled it long enough. You can't leave it room temp very long. Glad you have more energy. Save some for us!