The Anger Burger household doesn’t make fudge. Fudge has broken our cold, diamond-hard hearts too many times. If you don’t already know (welcome to Earth!), fudge is essentially just sugar, milk, butter and chocolate cooked until it reaches a certain temperature, after which its whipped into a light, soft texture, then allowed to set until it can be cut into pieces. In a way, it is just chocolate frosting. Which is not a bad thing.
Things are inevitably more complicated. Fudge is an old-fashioned confection that traditionally wasn’t even made with chocolate. It is sweet sweet sweet and made sweeter by the option of many a cringe-inducing additive like maraschino cherries. Many recipes don’t use unsweetened chocolate, but semi-sweet, a move that dilutes the already tenuous chocolate flavor further into Candyland. In Angerburgerlandia, fudge should be very chocolaty, and include nuts. That’s it. But lets cover some more ground before I start testifyin’.
Sometime in the last few decades, Kraft decided to plow into the room, half-sloshed on Appletinis, and declared that fudge was now called Fantasy Fudge, which required their Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Cream and no longer included heavy cream, but evaporated milk. This is interesting on a few levels. The marshmallow is there to simplify, relying on thickeners like xanthan gum and egg white rather than sugar reaching soft ball stage. The evaporated milk cuts around the issue of lowering the water content of the candy, making it thicker and richer. In a way, Kraft ain’t all crazytalk here. But in another way, I don’t know that a big tub of artificial flavor and Blue #1 is how I want to tell my family I love them.
Everyone that is surprised my boiling fudge made a weird buttcrack, raise their hand.
So what’s the big deal, why not make fudge from scratch? Because there can only be one fickle bitch in the kitchen, and she is me. There’s a fair amount of food science involved, but the point is this: fudge has such a high sugar content that it easily crystallizes, making the end result grainy rather than frosting-smooth. Keeping it from crystallizing is a game for people who don’t burst into tears when they waste a big saucepan full of expensive ingredients.
Which then brings me to Bonnie Jean Gorder-Hinchey’s fudge recipe in the October 2009 issue of Fine Cooking magazine. We’re a sucker for anything that claims to be foolproof, and well, here we are. Gorder-Hinchey may not have used the word “foolproof” in the article, but it was certainly implied, which led to us calling it “The Titanic Fudge.” Either way, we decided to go for it, in large part because it’s just a holiday tradition for us to make a ruined batch of fudge.
You can imagine how shocked we were to discover that it wasn’t ruined, and not for lack of effort. Every step took longer than her guidelines and looked weirder. The recipe is a tedious one, taking over four hours of nearly constant attention and ended with 20 minutes of using a hand-mixer. Like most candy-making, it takes a kind of vigilant OCD that is as tiring as it is exhilarating – assuming it works. But lo, it did work. To our great shock. And of course by “works” I mean we are already planning to alter the recipe, because that’s how we roll. My mother and I both felt the final product was even more overly sweet than we were prepared for and are too tempted by the lure of adding another ounce of chocolate to keep from fiddling with it. Also: the family is begging for more.
The reviews over at Fine Cooking are evenly split between loving it and having total Titanic-level wipeout failure, which is pretty typical of fudge recipes and goes even further towards us renaming the fudge “Olympic Fudge.” Did you know the Titanic has a sister ship that never sank? It even crashed into stuff. No one gets remembered for doing their job well.
by Bonnie Jean Gorder-Hinchey
copied from Fine Cooking verbatim, see original print here
some notes: the times in this recipe are mere advisories – pay more attention to the temperatures than the times. for example, in Gorder-Hinchey’s instructions she notes the fudge will take 1 1/2 hours to cool down to 110° but ours took nearly 3 hours — this can be easily explained by us having a deeper, narrower pot. All of the effort of her recipe is to minimize the possibility of forming crystals, but these are merely techniques for minimizing, not for defeating unequivocally. You must still take great care not to disturb the crystals from the sides of the pot. adding 1 tsp. more salt, 1 C. chopped, toasted nuts and 1 more ounce of chocolate makes for a more adult flavor.
3 Tbs. cold unsalted butter; more at room temperature for buttering the thermometer and pan
3-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. light corn syrup
1 tsp. table salt
- Lightly butter the face of a candy thermometer and set aside.
- Put the sugar, cream, chocolate, corn syrup, and salt in a large (4-quart) heavy-duty saucepan and stir with a spoon or heatproof spatula until the ingredients are moistened and combined. Stirring gently and constantly, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, 7 to 12 minutes. Cover the saucepan and let the steam clean the sides of the pan for 2 minutes.
- Clip the candy thermometer to the pot, being careful not to let the tip of the thermometer touch the bottom of the pot, or you might get a false reading. Let the mixture boil without stirring until it reaches 236°F to 238°F, 2 to 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the butter, but do not stir it into the mixture. Set the pan on a rack in a cool part of the kitchen. Don’t disturb the pan in any way until the mixture has cooled to 110°F, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
- Meanwhile, line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two opposite sides of the pan. Butter the foil. Set the pan aside.
- Remove the thermometer from the fudge mixture. Using a hand mixer, beat the mixture on high speed until it is a few shades lighter in color and thickens enough that the beaters form trails that briefly expose the bottom of the pan as they pass through, 10 to 20 minutes. Pour the thickened fudge into the prepared pan, using a rubber spatula to help nudge it out of the pot. You can scrape the bottom of the pot but not the sides; any crystals that stick to the pot stay in the pot. Smooth the top of the fudge with the spatula. Set the pan on a rack and let the fudge cool completely, about 2 hours. The fudge will be slightly soft the day it’s made but will firm up overnight.
- Turn the fudge out onto a clean cutting board and peel off the foil. Turn the slab of fudge right side up and cut it into 25 equal pieces. The fudge will keep for a week to 10 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature.