Monday, May 11, 2009

National Nutty Fudge Day


Another holiday, another recipe or two. Today is National Nutty Fudge Day. My Aunt Ann made the best fudge in the world, but now that I know more about candy nomenclature, I think she made truffles. They were dark chocolate balls rolled in cocoa. I'll always remember her truffles as fudge.

However, I had my first taste of the 'real' fudge down the shore in Atlantic City. Fudge was sold along with Salt Water Taffy at many of the Boardwalk candy shops. Yum!

History of Fudge: Fudge was supposedly invented in the U.S.in the late 1880s. Historians believe the first batch of fudge resulted from a bungled batch of caramels, as in "Oh, Fudge" I don't think so... According to Wikipedia, the main component of Fudge was similar to the traditional recipe for Scots Tablet found in The Household Book of the Lady Grisell Baillie (1692-1733). The term 'fudge' is often used in the UK for a soft variant of the tablet recipe.

One of the first documented examples of American fudge (containing chocolate!) was found in a letter written by Emelyn Batersby Hartridge, a Vassar College student, who wrote that a friend's cousin made fudge in Baltimore in 1886 and sold it for 40 cents a pound. Hartridge asked for the fudge recipe, and in 1888 made 30 pounds of the fudge for the Vassar Senior Auction. In The Candy Book (Alice Bradley, 1929) an entire chapter is devoted to fudge.

Fudge is a crystalline candy, which means that, unlike lollipops, caramels, and taffy, crystal formation is the key to making great fudge. Tiny microcrystals of sugar in fudge give fudge its firm but smooth texture. The secret to successful fudge is getting these crystals to form at just the right time. Fudge is one of the rare exceptions to the rule that sugar crystals are not desirable in candy. Tiny microcrystals in fudge are what give it its firm texture. When the crystals are small enough, they don’t feel grainy on your tongue, but smooth.

While you ultimately want crystals to form, it's important that they don't form too early. Now it gets tricky! The key to successful, nongrainy fudge is in the cooling, not the cooking. If you disturb the cooling fudge during this cooling phase you increase the potential for larger crystals (seed crystals) of sugar to form too early and thus a grainy fudge results.

O.K. this is too much for me to take in, not being a candy maker. So how to make fudge relatively easy? Here are three recipes.

Recipe 1: Easy Million Dollar Fudge from Stephanie in All Recipes
4- 1/2 cups white sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
2 cups chopped nuts
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
12 (1 ounce) squares German sweet chocolate
2 cups marshmallow creme

1. Butter two 9x9 inch baking pans and set aside.
2. Place chocolate chips, German chocolate, marshmallow creme, and nuts into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
3. In a 4 quart saucepan, combine sugar, salt, butter, and evaporated milk. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, and cook for 6 minutes.
4. Pour boiling syrup over ingredients in bowl, beat until all chocolate is melted. Pour into prepared pans. Let stand a few hours before cutting.

Recipe 2: Foolproof Dark Chocolate Fudge Recipe
3 C semisweet chocolate chips, 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk dash, salt, 1 C chopped walnuts, 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt. Remove from heat; stir in walnuts and vanilla. Spread evenly into aluminum foil lined 8 or 9 inch square pan. Chill 2 hours or until firm. Turn fudge onto cutting board; peel off foil and cut into squares. Store loosely covered at room temperature.
Recipe 3: Alton Brown had a great show on the Food Network on making fudge, so I thought I should include one of his recipes for nutty chocolate fudge.
Ingredients
2- 3/4 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped, roasted nuts, optional

Directions
Grease an 8 by 8-inch pan with butter. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, chocolate, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter, half-and-half, and corn syrup. Over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved and chocolate is melted. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the cover and attach a candy thermometer to the pot. Cook until the thermometer reads 234 degrees F. Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter. Do not stir. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes or until it drops to 130 degrees F. Add vanilla and nuts, if desired, and mix until well-blended and the shiny texture becomes matte. Pour into the prepared pan. Let sit in cool dry area until firm. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
And, there are two websites that are just devoted to fudge. Fudge-Recipes.net and Fudge-Recipes.com and Fudge Recipe Collection. In addition there are many, many nutty chocolate fudge recipes on various food blogs.
Have a wonderful Nutty Fudge Day!

2 comments:

Maria said...

I've got a recipe for something that sounds like your truffles--which I vastly prefer over fudge! I don't mind fudge, but...it's not my favorite chocolate concoction...!

~~louise~~ said...

I sure am nutty about fudge!!! Funny though, as much as I LOVE all things chocolate. My favorite fudge is peanut butter. I suppose it's because it's ever so popular in PA. Never saw the Alton Brown Fudge recipe before. Will have to store that one!!!