Posted by: briellethefirst | June 3, 2011

Real, Old-Fashioned Fudge, A-la Aunt Zora


Every year my great-aunt would make a batch of fudge for my Dad’s birthday. It was the best anyone ever tasted and when she passed away we were sure we’d find the recipe in one of her books, but alas it was not to be. She took the secret with her. There are lots of fudge recipes, including no-cook versions but I haven’t found any like this. Mom taught me using the recipe from her old Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book from the late ’50s or early ’60s. Making fudge is a right of passage for girls, and one of the preferred activities at sleep-overs. I’m now on a quest for the perfect Aunt Zora’s Fudge and have been for several years now…and several pounds later. I’m still working on it. Perfection can not be rushed, but the journey is quite pleasant with chocolate as a companion!

Ingredients: 2c sugar, 1/3c half and half, 2 squares baking chocolate, 2 Tbsp butter, 1 tsp vanilla.

So.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 2 quart saucepan. Add 2 c sugar, 1/3 c half and half and 2 squares baking chocolate. Stir constantly over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and comes to a boil. Stop stirring while it boils until it comes to the soft-ball stage. Either use a candy thermometer to know when it gets to between 235-240 Fahrenheit or have a cup of cold water beside the stove and drop a bit of fudge syrup in about every 5-10 minutes. When it forms a soft, flexible ball it is done. While you’re waiting fill the sink with enough water to cool the bottom of the pan, about 1/2 way up. You don’t want to get water in it or it could seize up and even get grainy! Add 2 Tbsp butter (OK, margarine if you must) and 1 tsp vanilla. Butter a plate while you wait. When the butter is melted and it’s cool enough to handle grab a towel for your lap and a spoon and start beating the fudge. This could take a while, 5-15 minutes. When it starts to lose it’s gloss turn it out onto the buttered plate, spreading evenly if it doesn’t flow easily. As soon as it sets cut with a knife and store in the fridge or freezer a tin lined with waxed paper and waxed paper between layers.

I prefer my fudge plain, but if you want to add nuts, mix them in just before you pour it onto the plate or take almonds/walnut/pecan/peanut halves and press them onto the top of each piece before they compleatly set-up. Maybe a bit of marshmallow cream, caramel, broken peppermint candies can be stirred in right before spreading on the plate or a dab of jam in a thumbprint-hollow would be nice, but is really gilding-the-Lilly.

Mom used to make Nana’s Marvelous Chocolate Cake for our birthdays and sometimes, if the fudge cooperated, would ice it with fudge. Nana was Aunt Zora’s sister…good cooks run in the family. Getting it to spread over the cake is tricky and an art in itself. Learn to make butter-cream frosting ‘just in case’ and cut out pieces of fudge to decorate it with if it doesn’t coöperate. If you want to practice you can make a couple batches of brownies (sturdier than cake) and get used to it. You can also experiment with layering fudge on top of the brownies with caramel or other things layered on…

If disaster happens and it doesn’t set up pour it into a clean jar and use it as fudge sauce on ice cream and other deserts. This can happen up to 50% of the time, so if you’re cooking for a specific purpose leave enough time to make another batch and be the genius who can manage the best fudge as well as the best fudge sauce ever! Sometimes sauce can be re-boiled and brought up to temperature to set up. If you over-cook fudge it can set too fast and hard, get grainy and generally be not too good, but I’ve still used it dissolved in a little hot milk as a quick, half-decent chocolate sauce. Over ice cream it’s great…it is still chocolate, after all! Apparently if you add a tsp of corn syrup this can help prevent grains of sugar from forming in the fudge. You also need to make sure that the sugar is compleatly dissolved and there are no granules on the sides before it starts boiling. If you do this it doesn’t seem to matter whether the corn syrup is added or not. On the other hand, if there are grains of sugar on the side or undissolved before it boils, corn sugar doesn’t seem to help, or maybe only a little.

The secret is that fudge-making is a true bit of witchcraft, a potion to be handed down from wise-woman to student, the skill to be cultivated and developed over time, held as a close secret if you can capture the knack. It’s best done with friends or family around, almost ritually but as a solitary practice that can also connect one with Godhead! So practice often and you may want to start a work-out regimen of some sort if you aren’t already in the habit.

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