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~ Six Recipes for Fabulously-Flavored Holiday Fudge ~

IMG_6733Fudge is especially popular on the the boardwalks of the East coast in the Summertime.  That said, it is also perfect for gift-giving during the holidays.  Because it can be made several weeks in advance and stored (covered) in the the refrigerator, I like to make several flavors, then, assemble gift-boxes containing assorted flavors to share with family and friends.  It's a fun, relaxing way to ease into the holiday spirit, and it's a great addition to a tray of assorted cookies too.

This all-American confection dates back to the late 1880s.

IMG_6722Fudge originated in America in the latter 19th Century.  Recipes began appearing in periodicals and advertisements in the late 1880's, and, it gained in popularity because it could be made at home on the stovetop with a few ingredients and without the need for special equipment.  Sugar, butter and milk got heated to the soft-ball stage (240ºF), then, it got beaten while it cooled so that it acquired a smooth, creamy consistency.  It appealed to people who were looking for an alternative to candy that fell in between expensive, fancy candies and the cheapest of sweets.

Like many good things, fudge was created by accident.

IMG_6722Like many things, it happened by accident. Fudge was first documented in 1886 by students who were making and selling it at the Malmesbury School in Baltimore, Maryland.  As the story goes, they were trying to make caramels and "fudged" the recipe. This probably explains why fudge, along with another historical accident, salt water taffy, are sold as staples on the boardwalks of the Eastern Shore.  True American-style fudge is very smooth and creamy, not grainy, crumbly or cloyingly, tooth-achingly sweet.  When served at room temperature, it is almost spreadable, and, on the boardwalks they traditionally serve it accompanied by a little plastic "tasting" knife. Fudge is often gussied up with additions of nuts and/or dried fruit, or, by swirling two flavors together.

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4cb2f81200dI've tasted a lot of fudge in my lifetime (mostly while walking the boardwalks of the NJ and Maryland shores), but quite honestly, a recipe I was given by my mom's neighbor Agnes is so delicious, user-friendly and foolproof, I've never been inclined to experiment with other versions (which all to often complicate the process to the the point of "why bother").  I am here to tell you:  you don't need a degree in food science, a marble slab, or even a candy thermometer to make great fudge.  I am a purist about a lot of things, but let's get real:  fudge was born out of error -- how complicated do we need to make it?  BTW:  Fralinger's in Ocean City, NJ, is one of my all-time favorite "haunts" for purchasing all flavors of salt water taffy and fabulous fudge.  I adore the Jersey shore.

The ideal pan & the ideal way to prepare a pan for fudge:

IMG_5996A bit about the ideal "fudge pan": After fudge is cooked (on the stovetop), it gets transferred to a baking pan to cool.  Most recipes require an 8" x 8" x 2" or 13" x 9" x 2" pan, and most folks have one or both.  That said, for a perfect presentation, professional baking pans with square-edged corners (instead of rounded ones) are ideal. Better than that, are square pans with square-corners and removable bottoms, which make removing the fudge remarkably easy.  A few years ago, I made a small investment of about $20.00 per pan in several sizes (4" x 4", 6" x 6", 8" x 8", 9" x 9", 10" x 10" and 12" x 12").  I love them.

IMG_5994 IMG_5994Having a pan like this is not a requirement for any fudge recipe, but it does make for fudge with pretty, uniform corners when cut.  Prior to preparing fudge, line an 8" x 8" x 2" baking pan with plastic wrap that drapes over the sides by 2"-3". Cut an 8" x 8" square of parchment and place it in the bottom atop the plastic wrap.

My basic (foolproof) "Killer Fudge" recipe:

When I was growing up, our neighbor loved to bake and her sweet treats made their way to our table often.  Every year, on Christmas Eve, Agnes joined our family for dinner and graced our dessert table with a plate of fudge -- we came to expect it.  No matter what the flavor, with or without lightly-toasted nuts and/or coconut added to it, it was always a hit.  When my now forty-something son was about three, he was allowed to take his first taste of her dark chocolate fudge. "That's a killer."  Mom's and dad's guests roared with laughter and "Killer Fudge" got its name.

14  ounces sweetened condensed milk (1 can), NOT evaporated milk

2  teaspoons vanilla extract + up to 2 additional teaspoons each of 2 additional extracts or flavorings (up to 6 teaspoons total extract)

4  ounces mini-marshmallows

4  ounces salted butter

16  ounces "chocolate-product-morsels" such as:  dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch, cinnamon, peanut butter, etc.

6-8 ounces optional add-ins such as: lightly-toasted chopped nuts and/or sweetened flaked coconut, peppermint bits, toffee bits, chopped dried fruits, etc.

Dark Chocolate Lover's Killer Dark-Chocolate Fudge:

IMG_6104Milk-Chocolate & Toasted-Coconut Lover's Fudge:

IMG_6359Butterscotch & Bits-O-Toffee Brickle Lover's Fudge:

IMG_6509Cinnamon-Apple Maple-Walnut Lover's Killer Fudge:

IMG_6613Double-Cherry & Double-Vanilla Lover's Killer Fudge:

IMG_6278Ultimate-Best Peanut-Butter Lover's Killer Fudge:


"We are all in this fabulously-flavored fudgy food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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