Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Grandma's Fudge: Whoopsie Edition

     Yesterday I was given a special task from Jen: make my Grandma's fudge. She was having a hankerin' for it, and I thought it would be fun to see if I could do it. 

     See, the problem here is that my Grandma's fudge barely even has what could qualify as a recipe. It's one of those "summa this, summa that" type deals. So because of that, it's not a good recipe for beginners. Although, on the other hand, it kind of is a good recipe for beginners because even if you screw it up, hey, you just made chocolate goo, and maybe that's not what you were shooting for but damn if doesn't taste good. Unless you burn it. God help you if you burn it. But we'll get to that. First let's take a look at the original recipe. 

     Ok, so we've got the basics, anyway. But first! You'll notice it has "milk" listed as an ingredient, but what it should say is evaporated milk, and don't bother measuring it, just get a little can of it. I'm not just making that up, my grandma always used evaporated milk too. I remembered watching her use a little can of milk, but I couldn't remember if it was sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk. I went with the former and immediately realized it was the wrong choice, but I just added some milk to make a nice thick liquid texture, and it turned out just fine. But I'm getting ahead of myself again! 

     So you take your evaporated milk, your sugar, and your cocoa, and plop 'em into a pan and cook on low to low-medium (is that a thing? Let's pretend it's a thing) until it thickens. If you're like me and you accidentally used sweetened condensed milk, you'll get a weird gritty thick paste, so throw in about 3/4 cup of regular milk and stir it up, and it'll be ok. Now this part is important: stir. Constantly. This is not a recipe that you can throw on the stove and walk away from for a minute. You do have to stir it, literally, constantly. It's not bad though, because you'll only need to cook it for ten to fifteen minutes before it gets thickened to the soft ball stage. My grandma always used the candy-making method of dropping a smidge of the fudge into a cup of cool water and seeing if it turns into a soft ball; when it does, it's just about ready. I prefer to just go by intuition: when you're stirring the fudge and you notice it filling back in on itself following the spatula nice and slowly, like a lava flow. Because I know the hardest part of this recipe is figuring out when it's thickened enough, here's a little gif I threw together so you can see what it ought to look like when it's ready. 

     When it looks like that, it's time to add your power-up ingredients: butter, vanilla, and peanut butter, unless you don't like peanut butter (GET OUT. Just kidding, you can stay while I judge you from afar) or have allergies. The recipe just says "add vanilla and butter." OKAY GRANDMA. Just add it. Some. A lot. Whatever. I used about three tablespoons...ish of butter, a teaspoon or so of vanilla (that's just what was left in the bottle, real talk), and probably close to a cup of peanut butter, because I really like peanut butter, like, a lot. Just add all that in and let it melt in with the pan off the eye, no stirring necessary. Once everything's melted, give it a quick stir to get it all together, then it's pan time! Pour it into a brownie pan and let it chill and set into solid form. Try to resist the urge to lick the spatula and burn your mouth to ashes with boiling chocolate napalm. 

     Once it's set, slice it into bite-sized pieces and enjoy! At the end of all of this, I ended up deciding the sweetened condensed milk debacle was a delicious mistake, because it gave the fudge a sort of caramel-y taste. So it all worked out in the end! 

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