What’s Cookin’ – Grandma’s Fudge

Christmas isn’t complete without some of my mother-in-law’s (aka Grandma) famous fudge.  She always made regular chocolate fudge, but she also made butterscotch and peanut butter fudge each year.  DSH’s favorite flavor is butterscotch, but he comes from a long line of peanut butter lovers so the peanut butter fudge never lasts long either.

A few years back, Grandma taught our youngest girls how to make her famous fudge.  I was surprised to learn that she didn’t use an old family recipe.  She used the recipe on the back of the marshmallow creme jar.  Really.

Actually, her recipe is somewhat different because she has always used the chips in a bag and never adds nuts.  Since then, our girls have taken over the fudge making duties in the family, and they have expanded on Grandma’s creativity in making versions other than chocolate, butterscotch, and peanut butter.  Flavors they have come up with include white chocolate fudge, peppermint fudge with holiday M&Ms, and this year they even made cinnamon chocolate.  Basically, whatever flavor of chip you can buy can be made into fudge.

Our new generation of fudge makers.  They didn’t get around to making the fudge until a few days before Christmas which means it will be soft and creamy and fresh for the holidays.  Remember to store your fudge in tightly covered containers to keep it soft and fresh.

Grandma’s Fudge ingredients.  One bag of candy morsels per batch.  We made six batches this year – dark chocolate, milk chocolate, butterscotch, white chocolate peppermint with holiday M&Ms on top, peanut butter, and cinnamon chocolate.

Prepare a 9×9 or 8×8 square pan by greasing it and lining it with parchment paper.  Grease each layer of parchment paper.  We use shortening to grease the pans and paper.

There is a reason that we double line the pans.  Once a batch of fudge is slightly cooled, you can carefully lift the entire piece out of the pan (lift only the layer of parchment paper on which the fudge is resting and leave the other layer in the pan) and place it on the counter to continue to cool and reuse the pan by adding just one layer of parchment paper to replace the one that you used to remove the previous batch.

Mise en place is French for putting in place and is an important concept when making fudge.  The first part goes slow, but the end of the process goes very quickly so it is very important to have all of your ingredients measured and ready to go when needed.

Step one – place the sugar, butter, and evaporated milk into a large saucepan and turn the heat onto medium.  After this you will be stirring the pot continuously, so all the rest of your ingredients and prepared pan should be ready to go and within easy reach.

Stir the mixture continuously or it will burn.  The girls usually burn one batch a year, but this year they had help with the stirring.

Help in the form of strong boyfriends comes in handy at fudge making time.  The girls continue to be amazed that Grandma has always made fudge by herself because it really is easier with at least two people.

It is best to use a candy thermometer.  Basically, you need the mixture to come to a full boil, while stirring continuously, and reach a temperature of 234°F.  Once it reaches this temperature, things start to move quickly.

This is where two sets of hands comes in handy.  While one person is stirring, the other person adds the chips and the marshmallow creme.  Stir vigorously to combine well.

Pour (really you are scraping) the mixture into your prepared pan.  You must work quickly at this point as the fudge will start to set up immediately.

Allow to cool for a short while.  Once it is firm enough, but not completely cooled, you can gently lift the entire piece out of the pan.  If you lift with the one section of parchment paper on which the fudge is resting, it will leave one section in the pan.  That way you only have to add one piece for your next batch.  (This is a batch of butterscotch fudge – my favorite, too).

Tip:  Score / cut the fudge while it is still warm and soft.  If you wait until it is completely cooled, it will have a tendency to crumble.  We cut a square pan into 64 bite-sized pieces (8 slices per side).  (This is the batch of classic dark chocolate fudge).

Yes, there were three pieces missing from the last picture.  That is because one of the boyfriends is an expert fudge taste tester.

This year’s batches of Grandma’s Fudge – from left to right dark chocolate (classic fudge), milk chocolate, butterscotch, peppermint with holiday M&Ms, peanut butter, and cinnamon chocolate.

I am so glad that our kids are continuing our family traditions, and that they are sharing with their friends.

Oh, and the fudge is yummy, too.

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