Or, Third Time’s the Charm.
I got it in my head that I wanted to make fudge as Christmas gifts for the kids’ teachers. This was sort of a fall back since the citrus marmalade I canned wound up rather bitter. Rather bitter as in nearly inedible bitter, and I like my marmalade on the sharp side. It actually works as an ingredient in stir fry, or where you have other flavors going on to help take the edge off, but still…wow.
For my first two batches, I tried the Hershey’s cocoa powder fudge recipe (the one they say is “their most requested, but one of the most difficult). The first batch turned out great taste-wise, but did not set up. At all. Several hours in the fridge and it was still not firm. An hour in the freezer froze it enough to where I could try to cut it, but before I was done cutting the pieces started flowing back together. I suspect that I made two errors: 1) just barely bringing it up to 234 degrees and 2) not beating enough once it had cooled sufficiently. I was a little hesitant to over-beat because my one attempt last year wound up grainy and hard (probably because I used the hand mixer). So, rather than fudge squares, we’ve got hot fudge sauce waiting in the wings.
Batch number two was the same recipe, but cut in half. This was a total loss. I didn’t stir carefully enough, and, once it boiled, I left it alone for probably too long. It did register 236, but I was getting weird temperature fluctuations. Once it got down to about 120, I tried to beat it. Nope, too stiff. Turns out, I had burnt some on the bottom of the pan, which caused issues for the whole batch. Out it went.
For batch three, I went with Shirley Corriher’s recipe in Cookwise, but took out a little sugar. Success! Well, mostly. The top wound up very matte and looks grainy, probably because I very nearly over mixed it. It’s also a pretty soft set, which is not my preference, so next time (if there is one) I’ll probably take it all the way to 240, rather than removing it from the heat at 236. Still, the texture and flavor are pretty good, and definitely gift-able.