Monday, January 2, 2012
As promised, here’s my amaretto walnut fudge recipe, which can be adapted as an anything-fudge recipe. I always thought making fudge was profoundly mysterious and terribly time-consuming, but was recently disabused of this notion when I decided to make it myself. My husband loves the amaretto fudge made by a company at the Seattle Center called “Seattle Fudge”, and recently decided that he wanted to have some sent by mail order to certain of his relatives. Well, to make a long story short, he checked out prices and found that it would be ridiculously expensive not just to have it shipped, but to buy the fudge itself in the necessary quantities. Of course with this challenge, I had to try making fudge. Of course, I had to consult multiple recipes and make my own version, full of nuts, which he doesn’t like in his fudge. But if it’s going to be given away, who cares? At least the nuts provide some real nutrition along with the massive amounts of sugar.
Now, to make the short story even shorter, here’s my recipe for amaretto-walnut fudge along with commentary.
2.75 cups of regular old white sugar
1 cup regular old half and half (the high-fat real milk stuff that’s used in coffee)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (4 squares of the standard US package of “baking chocolate")
3 tablespoons butter (please use real butter, not the artificial stuff!)
1 tablespoon corn syrup (yep, the evil high-fructose corn syrup, in the US sold as “Karo”. For you chemists out there, the purpose of the HFCS is to prevent too much crystallization of the sugar)
0.25 cup amaretto (or a tablespoon or so of almond extract, which is what I suspect Seattle Fudge uses, judging by taste comparison)
1 tbsp vanilla or almond extract, extra amaretto, (and/or a splash of rum, or any other flavoring of your choice)
As many nuts or other inclusions as you want (or none, if that’s your choice). I use an almost equal ratio of nuts to fudge, but that is extreme.
An ordinary saucepan and stirring spoon
A wide, flat dish or pan greased with butter
Mix the sugar, chocolate, half and half, 1.5 tablespoons butter, amaretto, and corn syrup together in the saucepan and heat on medium heat. Stir the mixture occasionally. When the chocolate melts, it will look like it’s not mixing with the other stuff, but that’s OK. It will merge into the whole by the end of the process.
When the mixture starts to boil, let it boil on medium heat for about 3 minutes or until it threatens to spill over the sides of the pan, whichever comes first. Immediately reduce the heat to low and let the mixture quietly bubble away. [NB: I have a gas stove, so have good control over the heat. If you have an electric stove, you may have problems reducing the heat quickly enough at this stage.]
Now comes the part that requires some patience, but not work. You just have to let the mixture cook until it thickens. Really, it’s that simple. Recipes will all tell you that you need a “candy thermometer”, whatever that is. You don’t. They will tell you that you need to stir a lot. You don’t. They will tell you that you need to be hyper-vigilant about when the mix reaches an exact, critical, stage in order for the fudge to turn out right. You don’t. There’s a nice wide time window for those of us who go off and read, write, or filter perfume while we cook. Just find something else to do and check in every so often to see how the cooking process is going. Stir a little to reassure yourself that nothing is sticking or burning. When the mixture looks like it’s getting thicker, part of the checking should involve dropping a small drop of the mixture into a cup of cold water. If it spreads out and disintegrates, it’s not ready. If it stays together in a nice round ball, it is ready.
Once the mixture is thick enough, remove it from the heat, add the extra 1.5 tablespoons butter, stir it up, and let it sit until it starts forming a skin on top. At this point, most recipes will tell you that you have to beat and beat it. You don’t. Just stir it from time to time until it starts to have a matte look instead of shiny. You probably don’t even need to stir it, but stirring is a way of checking on its status.
This is the stage at which you add the vanilla, extra alcoholic (or other) flavorings, nuts or other inclusions, mix it up, pour or pack it into the greased dish, and smooth it out. Voila. You have fudge. It’s best to let it sit for a few hours before cutting it into squares. There’s no issue of delayed gratification since you can scrape out what’s left in the saucepan and eat it.
This recipe makes a lot of fudge, especially if you bulk it up with nuts, so be prepared to store it for a few weeks worth of snacks, or give some away.