Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wading Carefully into my Fudge Experiment

I was super close to my grandmother when I was a kid. She really was the BEST. I remember one of my favorite treats was to go spend the night at her house. After dinner, we would unfold the sofa bed in her living room, settle in, and watch a movie. I would eat ice cream and popcorn and little cups of marshmallows. Then, she would read to me and we would go to sleep in the twin beds in my room at her house. I would wake up early and watch another movie and play with my dollhouse (that she built for me). Later on, we might go on a walk around her neighborhood, looking at all the other houses with their funny lawn ornaments and gnomes. Or we might go the park and play the statue game. Or make cookies or fudge together.

She made the very best fudge in the world. I remember it being firm and not squishy to the touch. I would take a bite and it would literally melt into tiny swirls of fairy dust and unicorn magic. I don't know how else to describe it, but trust me it was the best. And you'll have to trust me because she died and no one knows her precise recipe. We all remember eating it though, and I remember helping to make it. I also remember this one graduation party for my sister when my dog ate THREE PLATTERS of my grandmother's fudge, drank a bunch of water from the pool and then whimpered all night long.

Anyhow, I was at the Grocery Outlet with Kelly a couple weeks ago and I came across this fudge making kit. I thought it would be the perfect way to begin the process of experimentally trying to re-create my grandmother's recipe. The kit seemed to come with stuff that I either already had or could find with little effort, but the idea of a kit suckered me in because it was all pre-measured and whatnot and only $2.69.

Experiment 1: Starting Out
The first hiccup in my process was that the directions referred to the sugar as "sugar mixture" even though the ingredients list appeared to indicate that it was just plain cane sugar. I started getting nervous that when I actually began experimenting with ingredients, I was going to have to figure out proportions of sugar and some other mystery sugar materials. So then I decided to look online and see if most fudge recipes use sugar or sugar + _______ which turned out to be a HUGE MISTAKE since some of the recipes use confectioners sugar, or brown sugar, or even NO SUGAR AT ALL and of course I have no clear memory of what my grandmother used in terms of sugar.

Undaunted, I followed the first set of instructions and poured the (mystery package of) sugar into the pan (It looked like approximately 1.5 cups). My recipe made clear that I was supposed to use a heavy duty saucepan, but I used the only medium sized saucepan I own and then I gave the recipe the finger.

I stirred in 2 tablespoons of butter and the can of evaporated milk and turned the burner on medium and stirred it occasionally until the ingredients were mixed together.

It came to a boil, so I stirred it continuously for 4 minutes.

It stated to look like this-- all bubbly and frothy-- for some reason. I thought that was probably good. After the 4 minutes, I took the pan off the burner and turned it off.

I added the little package (2 cups?) of marshmallows and 1 bag of semi sweet chocolate chips.

And then I stirred.

And stirred.

And when the chocolate chips and marshmallows were all melted, I stopped stirring and poured the mixture into the crappy paper fudge pan that came with the kit and stuck it in the fridge.

Well, it LOOKS like fudge, doesn't it?

I'm not sure what happened, but between the stove and the sink, a lot of the residual chocolate left in the pan got scraped off and went... somewhere.

While doing this, I realized I did remember some things about my grandmother's recipe. I remember that she used nestle chocolate chips because I recall fetching a bag from the pantry and dumping it in the pan. I also remember that she used marshmallow spread, not marshmallows.

This fudge turned out yummy. It tastes like, well, fudge. But not quite like my grandmother's. I remember hers as having not quite as strong of a chocolate taste. It was... lighter, somehow.

Next Time
I will actually buy the separate ingredients from the grocery store and look for a recipe to follow. I will also use a bigger ratio of other ingredients to chocolate to try and decrease the strong chocolate taste.

Optimistic and excited! And nostalgic.