Let’s Talk About Fudge

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned bake sale. Whether the little ones are raising money at school for a day trip to the Ontario Science Centre or your church needs a new pair of pews, bake sales are a tried and true method of fundraising, and present the perfect opportunity to spend a little quality time in the kitchen with your favourite charity case.

Fudge is always a good bet for bake sales; it is pretty easy to make and is almost always a guaranteed hit. Brown sugar, maple walnut or chocolate fudge are found at every bake sale I’ve ever been to, and the one that sells out first always claims unofficial bragging rights.

Almost every family I know has a “family recipe” for fudge, and making it is one of the few activities around the house that has no shortage of assistants since the kid that helps out the most gets to lick the pot.

The most important thing to remember about making fudge is this: always follow the recipe as closely as possible. If not, you could end up with a gooey blob that doesn’t set right, or a hard brown brick that is gritty with sugary crystals, something akin to a slab of compacted brown sugar.

A candy thermometer is a good investment, even if you only use it a couple times a year. Traditionalists may eschew the idea of a candy thermometer and opt instead for the “soft-ball test.”

I have always preferred this method, there is something magic about drizzling a little stream of dangerously hot syrup into a glass of cold water, then rolling it around between thumb and forefinger, forming a perfect soft little ball….passing on this tradition to wide-eyed and drooling children or  grandchildren.

There are countless recipes for fudge out there, some using corn syrup, some with melted butterscotch chips, or chocolate chips, or crushed up candy cane. But for me, when it comes to fudge, I like to keep it simple, partly to ensure I have the ingredients on hand if I decide to make fudge on a whim.

Here is an old, simple favorite recipe for Chocolate Fudge from an august Canadian cooking tome, ”Chatelaine’s Adventures in Cooking” (1968), page 313 showing the wear and tear of being consulted many times.

 

Chocolate Fudge

2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate

2/3 cup milk

2 cups sugar

1/8 tsp salt

2 tablespoons butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Break chocolate into small pieces. Add to milk in saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth.
  2. Add sugar and salt, and stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture boils. Cook slowly, without stirring, until a small quantity dropped into water forms soft ball (240 F).
  3. Remove from heat, add butter and vanilla, without stirring. Cool to lukewarm (110 F). Beat until fairly thick; pour at once into greased pan.
  4. Cool, and cut into squares. Makes about 1 ¼ pounds.

Variation:

  • Brown-sugar Fudge:  Substitute 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar for 1 cup granulated sugar.

I have made this recipe several times and it always works. However, there is the remote possibility that you will mess up, that the fudge sets too quickly, or you didn’t beat it enough and it comes out grainy instead of creamy. This may make you want to want to cheat at your next bake sale. I am not against cheating, it works wonders, especially if you are unsure of your skills, are a total klutz in the kitchen or your fudge is a flop. If you do cheat, just be sure to use an above average product; if you want to bring some fudge with that homemade look, taste and feel  I highly recommend Gourmet Nantel’s  Cream Fudge, Cream Fudge with nuts or Chocolate Fudge.

This family owned business was started in 1979 by Claude and Francine Nantel and is going stronger than ever, now employing over 55 people at their facility in St. Julie, Quebec. And their fudge is so good you might just be the hit of the bake sale.

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