OH FUDGE! – MAKING CHRISTMAS CANDY (MY BLOG)
What smells and tastes more like the approach of Christmas than making batches of homemade candies? And these make wonderful gifts from your kitchen to give to friends, neighbors, coworkers, your doctor’s office or anyone else you want to give a little gift of appreciation during the holidays. If you go to Michael’s or Joann’s you can find a nice assortment of festive cellophane bags or other small containers to put your treats into. (Also remember to visit these stores after the holidays when they are marking 50 or even 75 percent off. This is when I stock up on many of my supplies for gift giving home made treats. Sometimes you can find small tins that are great for giving a small amount of candy. Think ahead!
Everybody thinks of fudge when the holidays are on the horizon. There are a few things you should know about candy making, to assure yourself of success. One is a candy thermometer. There are some recipes, especially some of the fudge recipes, that don’t require a candy thermometer. But if you don’t have one, go buy one; they only cost a few dollars. If you have to cook a concoction to a very definite temperature, you are going to need a candy thermometer. Another tip is – some candies don’t like humidity; you need a good dry day to make some candies, such as divinity.
My next tip has to do with equipment – if you are going to make candy, fudge or whatever else, you need
• Measuring cups, dry and liquid
• Measuring spoons
• A good wooden spoon.
• A good solid saucepan (2 quart will do but 3 or 4 quart will be better)
• Suitable pans such as a jellyroll pan to pour the candy into (my favorite pan for the five pound fudge recipe is a Wilton half-sheet cake pan). Go to Michael’s or Joanns and look at the different size cake pans that are available. Or buy some of those 8” square disposable aluminum foil cake pans to pour your fudge into and leave it in there to give away–just wrap cellophane or plastic wrap around it when it’s cold.
• Heavyduty aluminum foil. If you line your pans with it, when the candy is cold you can lift the whole thing out with the edges of the foil, lay it out on a cutting board or the kitchen counter, and then cut it into pieces. It’s much easier than trying to cut it while it’s still in the pans (and you won’t make knife marks in your pan).
Ok, if you don’t have a Michael’s or a Joann’s anywhere near you, then may I suggest going online to kitchen supply companies, such as Kitchen Kraft (one of my favorites) or King Arthur Flour – but if you just Google “kitchen baking equipment” you will find dozens of sources. (I have the feeling we talked about this before in Sandychatter). But places like Target and Kmart also have pretty decent kitchen supply departments.
Presumably you have collected all the necessary equipment, have stocked up on sugar, butter, unsweetened chocolate bars or a decent unsweetened cocoa, chopped walnuts or pecans (if you like nuts in your fudge) and whatever else your recipe calls for and you are ready to make candy. Ok, let’s do it! The recipes I am about to share with you are from my own personal collection and are recipes I have been making for years, so I know they are good.
FIVE POUNDS OF FUDGE
To make Five Pounds of Fudge, you will need:
2 packages (12 ounce each) chocolate chips (I prefer Nestle’s Toll House semi sweet morsels but any kind will do
1 jar (7 ½ ounce) marshmallow crème
1 can (12 ounce) evaporated milk
4 ½ cups of granulated sugar
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
Put first three ingredients in a large bowl (not a plastic bowl – use glass or ceramic). Lightly butter a 15x10x1” pan or several small aluminum pans (or line the 15x10x1” pan with foil, then butter it). In a large deep pan, mix the evaporated milk and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook rapidly, stirring constantly, for exactly 9 minutes. Pour over other ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Beat with mixer just until well mixed or if you have strong arm, mix it with your wooden spoon. Then stir in vanilla and nuts. Spread evenly in prepared pans. Chill 12 to 24 hours. Cut into squares. Store airtight or with foil if giving in small aluminum pans.
I have been making this for decades. I also use it to make my chocolate truffles. It’s a versatile recipe.
To make Magic Fudge you will need
3 large bags (12 ounce each) semi sweet chocolate morsels
2 cans Borden’s Sweetened Condensed milk (NOT evaporated!)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
Chopped nuts if you want to add them
Melt the chocolate chips over hot water in top of a double boiler (always be careful melting chocolate; don’t let any of the water come in contact with your chocolate – it will spoil it faster than you can say “oh fudge!” – Also be careful not to let the water boil or get too hot – that can ruin your chocolate too. Get the water hot, turn the heat down to the lowest setting – or take it off the heat source & then place the top container with the chocolate in it over the hot water. If you don’t have a double boiler, don’t despair – You can use a glass bowl for the top part. Improvise! Don’t try to rush melting chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat, stir in the Borden’s sweetened condensed milk and then the vanilla. You can add nuts at this point, if you like. To make Rocky Road, you can mix in miniature marshmallows, walnuts or pecans.
When I make distinctions between evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk and you don’t know what I am talking about – go to the supermarket and in the baking section, find the canned milk products and take a close look. Borden’s makes Sweetened Condensed milk. Carnation and Pet make evaporated milk. There is a big difference.
Make sure you have the right kind. You might want to stock up on cans of both items if you are going to do some serious candy making for the holidays.
This next recipe is kind of fun to make and give away as gifts, asking the recipients if they can guess what the mystery ingredient is. Most can’t guess! A penpal from Northern California was visiting me way back when and brought some for me try. I couldn’t guess the mystery ingredient.
To make MYSTERY INGREDIENT FUDGE you will need:
1 pound Velveeta cheese (the mystery ingredient)
1 pound butter
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 pounds sifted powdered sugar
1 TBSP vanilla extract
Chopped nuts (optional)
Melt together 1 pound Velveeta cheese and 1 pound butter – scorches easily so watch carefully and stir as needed. Remove from heat and add 1 cup cocoa, the four pounds of powdered sugar and then 1 TBSP vanilla. Can add nuts if you like. This makes 2 9×13” pans or 100 pieces of fudge. (This is very rich candy!)
PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
To make Peanut Butter Fudge, you will need:
1 pound powdered sugar
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 TBSP milk
Combine ingredients and mix well. Spread in a 9” baking pan and refrigerate until candy hardens. Cut into squares. (This is one of those recipes that will work better if you line the 9” baking pan with foil; when the candy has hardened and you are ready to cut it into neat little squares, just lift the foil out of the pan and–voila! – it will be easy to cut into nice squares.
AUNT ANNIE’S CREAM CANDY
To make Aunt Annie’s Cream Candy, you will need:
2 pounds of powdered sugar (sifted)
3 sticks butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dark chocolate, melted
Let the butter come to room temperature, then mix all ingredients together. Shape into bite size balls and set on cookie sheet and let stand overnight. (This should form a crust). Dip the balls into melted chocolate. Aunt Annie wrote that she covered just half the candy balls when dipping into dark chocolate. These are very rich, similar to Opera Creams. Does anyone know what Opera Creams are, anymore?
You may have noticed that none of the above recipes required the use of a candy thermometer–don’t worry; you’ll get plenty of use out of it. Here is a recipe for old fashioned fudge–you’ll need your candy thermometer for this one.
To make Old Fashioned Fudge, you will need:
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 squares (1 oz each) unsweetened chocolate OR 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 TBSP light corn syrup
¼ tsp salt
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup chopped nuts
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together, sugar, buttermilk, chocolate, corn syrup and salt until chocolate melts and sugar dissolves.
Cook mixture, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 234 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Cool mixture to lukewarm without stirring. Add vanilla, then beat until thick and no longer glossy. Quickly stir in ½ cup nuts. Turn mixture into a buttered 8 or 9” square pan. When set, cut into squares. Makes about 36 (1 ½” squares).
MAMIE EISENHOWER’S MILLION DOLLAR FUDGE
This recipe has been making the rounds since the 1950s; it originally appeared, I am told, in “Who Says We Can’t Cook?” a spiral bound collection of recipes published in 1955 by the Women’s National Press Club of Washington, D.C. (Actually, I think I might have this cookbook but many of my books are still packed in boxes and stored in the garage and a storage shed). At any rate, to make
MAMIE EISENHOWER’S MILLION DOLLAR FUDGE, you will need:
4 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 TBSP butter
1 tall can evaporated milk
12 oz semisweet chocolate pieces
12 ounces German sweet chocolate
1 pint marshmallow cream
2 cups chopped nuts
In a large saucepan, combine sugar, salt, butter and evaporated milk. Boil 6 minutes. Place chocolates, marshmallow cream and nuts in a large bowl (not plastic). Pour boiling syrup over ingredients in bowl; beat until chocolate is melted and pour into a pan. Let stand a few hours before cutting. Store in a food tin box or a tight fitting plastic container (I really like Rubbermaid Takealongs for storing cookies and candy).
Of all my praline recipes, this is my favorite. It was sent to me by my penpal Gene, who lives in Louisiana and kept me supplied with pecans for many years before she had to move into an assisted living facility. I love pralines. Years ago when I worked in Hollywood, we would make a mad dash for Farmer’s Market at lunch time to buy their giant pecan pralines and sherried walnuts. Yum!
To make Gene’s Cream Pralines, you will need:
1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
½ tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups pecan halves
(Butter a large cookie sheet. Gene butters two)
Cook sugars and evaporated milk over medium heat stirring constantly until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees F. Remove from heat, add pecans and vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon until creamy. Drop by tablespoons on cookie sheets; if candy becomes too stiff, add a small amount of cold water. Once you get the hang of handling the cream praline mixture you can spoon it directly into muffin pans lined with cupcake liners. You can leave the pralines in the cupcake liners or remove them later; they will all have a uniform shape.
I wanted to share a lot more favorite Christmas candy recipes with you but will have to send them in batches; I’ll post some of my favorite easy-to-make confection recipes next time, such as Holiday Sugared Walnuts – one of my favorites!
Thanks to Seth, my niece Julie’s fiancé, for requesting fudge recipes.