To round out the holiday recipes, I have two posts for recipes that are very near and dear to my heart. Each of the recipes comes from one of my Grandmothers. This fudge recipe is from my maternal grandma, and brings back a lot of memories. It comes with a heavy heart, as she is physically not doing very well right now, but I hope this brings other people happiness.
Before I get into the recipe, I want to warn you that it can be extremely tricky. Every year we never know how it will turn out, since the difference between rock hard fudge, perfect fudge, and goopy fudge is just a matter of minutes. No pressure, right?
Side note: I promise to get back on the savory train soon! I just figured these needed to be posted before the holidays.
I’ve spent many a Christmas Eve making this with my Grandma because it’s a necessity on the Christmas Eve table. Recently a friend described it as “if someone melted really good hot chocolate and then solidified it.” You can really taste the chocolate in it, and it melts in your mouth. My grandma officially ruined me for all other types of fudge.
First you want to prep all of your ingredients. The recipe moves quickly. Make sure you have laid out the two types of chocolate (7-9 oz milk chocolate, plus 12 oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chips), 2 tablespoons butter, 1 cup chopped nuts, dash of salt and 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract. You can combine all the above in one big bowl if you want, but make sure to keep the nuts separate.
The Hershey bar has always been a debate in the family because my grandma’s recipe card just says “large Hershey bar.” I think the size she used is a 7 ounce bar, but I usually can’t find it. I just try to grab the biggest bar I can find that is between 7 and 9 ounces, or the equivalent in smaller bars. This time I used a large bar from Trader Joe’s and estimated 9 ounces.
For the bag of chocolate chips, you can use semi-sweet or darker if you prefer. I like the Ghirardelli 70% cacao baking chips. For the nuts, you can use pecans or walnuts. I prefer walnuts just because they’re cheaper.
The next step of prep is the pan that you’ll spread out the fudge in. This recipe fits a 9 x 13 pan. Make sure to use a significant amount of butter and spread all over the bottom and sides of the pan.
Finally you combine one can of evaporated milk with (gulp) 4.5 cups of granulated sugar in a large pot on the stove. Make sure it’s fairly large since the mixture will come up the sides pretty high. If you have a candy thermometer, grab it and clip on to the pan.
Bring the mixture to rolling boil and cook on medium heat. Stir constantly at the beginning, and then a little less constantly towards the end. This is the really difficult part. You want it to be right between the soft and hard ball stage, although closer to the soft ball stage. This should take anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes, so you have to use your instincts and practice. This is why the thermometer is helpful, but not absolutely necessary.
The above picture is what it should start to look like about 1-2 minutes before it’s ready. It’s not quite dark enough in the above picture. Here are the ways that you can tell your mixture needs to be taken off the heat:
1. It’s slightly above soft ball stage, and
2. You start to see brown specks appear (this is a good thing) when you stir, and
3. You do the water test. Set a small bowl of room temp water to the side. When you think it might be ready, drizzle some of the mixture into the bowl. How does the mixture feel in the bowl? If it goes all over the place or feels too “squishy” then it’s definitely not ready, so keep going. If it feels kind of like play dough, then it should be ready. If it feels really hard, take it immediately off the heat and pray to the fudge god that you didn’t ruin Christmas Eve or create an extra errand for yourself since fudge HAS to be at the table.
Now is where you have to move at lightening speed. It helps to have someone with you, with oven mitts on. Immediately take the pot off the stove and mix in the chocolate, etc., but not the nuts. Stir very quickly with a wooden spoon, have a mild panic attack when it seems like you burnt the chocolate, realize you don’t have time to panic and keep going.
Finally mix in the nuts and immediately spread out into your 9 x 13, pressing down so it’s mostly flat. You can also leave out the nuts, or put aside a small (buttered) bowl for people (cough sister cough) who don’t like nuts in their fudge. I honestly have no idea if you leave out the nuts until last for an actual reason or because we always had to set aside a non-nut fudge bowl for my sister. Either way, let’s stick with tradition, shall we?
Slice up the fudge into small pieces because this is very rich. It also makes it easier to have multiple pieces and not feel as guilty. Keep fudge in an airtight container, for up to a week.
When I get really good at this I’m going to insert some music that says “What time is it? Cat Fact time!”. Don’t worry, I’m nowhere near figuring out how to do that yet.
Anyway, when asked if her husband had any hobbies, Mary Todd Lincoln is said to have replied “cats.” You and me both, Linc! I actually almost answered that in an job interview once, and then awkwardly said “movies” and couldn’t name one movie that I liked. CAT (and random) FACT!
Christmas Fudge by Grandma S.
4 1⁄2 cups sugar
1 can Evaporated Milk
Dash of salt
2 Tbl. butter
1 bag chocolate chips (about 12 oz)
1 large Hershey candy bar, about 8 oz, or multiple bars to equal 7-9 oz
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1 1⁄2 t. vanilla extract
1. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 inch pan.
2. Place chocolates, vanilla, salt and butter in a bowl. Set aside. Measure out nuts and set aside in separate bowl.
3. Combine sugar and evaporated milk in a large pot and place on medium heat. Heat until a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Mixture should be ready in 5-10 minutes. I highly recommend reading the above before making.
4. Immediately remove from heat, add chocolate and stir quickly with a wooden spoon. Quickly mix in nuts, transfer and flatten into the buttered pan. Let cool and cut into 1 inch squares.