Based on multiple attempts, I’ve determined that I am not a confectioner. I’ve tried to make different candies and such, but things more often than not go sideways. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but it is an interesting limitation to know and try to overcome. The opportunity presented itself in the run up to New Year’s Day, when we were getting ready to have people over for hoppin john, cornbread, and a house blessing.
I was looking for some sort of dessert/sweet to make to have on hand for some friends of ours who have to be gluten free. I also had on hand several bars of semisweet and unsweetened baking chocolate that needed to be used. Sure enough, in the book CookWise by Shirley O. Corriher, was a recipe for fudge. Several, actually, to include traditional, marshmallow, and microwave varieties. I opted to try the microwave recipe because of the low time investment–about 5-10 minutes max, all told, of active work. What makes this work is the sweetened condensed milk, which has all the sugar already in it, and much of the water already taken out of the milk:
1-14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
7 oz milk chocolate chips [I had 60%, which is in the semisweet category]
11 oz semisweet chocolate (bar or chips) [this is where I used some semisweet and some unsweetened]
1 tsp vanilla
[I omitted the nuts, but she gives directions to roast one cup of pecans or walnuts in the oven, then, once done, stir in a tablespoon of butter and a sprinkle of salt.]
Line an 8×8 pan with buttered foil. Combine condensed milk and chocolate in a large glass bowl or 4-cup measuring cup and melt in the microwave at 50% for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. As soon as the chocolate is melted, stir in the vanilla (and nuts, if using), and pour into the prepared pan. Refrigerate to cool and set. Once set, remove from pan, peel off foil, and cut into squares.
Since I used mainly semisweet, and not milk chocolate, this set up really firm. Not too hard, but definitely on the firm end of the fudge spectrum, especially when it was kept in the fridge. I was worried that it would be grainy because I overstirred it, trying to make sure the chocolate was all melted (and to keep the sugar crystals small, which is what gives fudge its texture) and it started to look curdled. I didn’t need to worry–the sugar in the condensed milk is already entangled with the milk proteins, so can’t form large crystals. The curdledness disappeared when I poured it into the pan, and didn’t affect the final texture. It went over well with all the guests, so I would say it was a success.
Finally, I’ve managed to conquer fudge. Not that it’s something to make every week (or month, even), but it is nice to have a quick and easy sweet treat recipe on hand.