Something about this time of year seems to put people in the mood for baking cookies and making candy. Why is it so many holidays are associated with sweets? I don’t have the answer, but I do have a recipe I’d like to throw into the ring with those who have taken traditional fudge and tried to do a healthier version of it. Healthy fudge; is that an oxymoron? I think for me, falling into the trap of New Year’s resolutions spurred me on to give this recipe a go before the first of the year arrives. So if you have made some resolutions that don’t include things like fudge, there’s still time before the year’s end!
I was very pleased that this recipe was a success, because it comes from an older traditional version. It was very tempting to follow some of the recent successes people have had making fudge with the “healthy” version of marshmallow fluff (aka meringue). This is because I recently tried my hand at making homemade meringues (the candy) in an attempt to free up some much needed space in my fridge. I had an excess of egg whites from all the eggnog I’d been making. I’d say the meringue was a success and will be posting about it very soon, but let me say that I don’t recommend increasing the recipe unless you have lots and lots of time to devote to baking meringues. I had meringue candy spread out all over my kitchen and dining room.
Near the end, I decided to mix it up a little and put some cocoa powder, cacao nibs, and chopped (crispy) pecans into the batter. Those seemed to be the ones everyone preferred. They tasted somewhat like miniature chocolate chip cookies.
Probably the thought of looking at more meringue influenced my decision to try a non-meringue version of fudge as much as anything. I went to one of the few cookbooks I saved from my pre-real-food days to see what recipe it offered. Right away I knew it would be even more challenging, because it called for unsweetened chocolate and all I use is cocoa powder from our food co-op. A quick search of the internet gave me a substitution ratio, so back to the kitchen I went to give it a try.
As you can see, this cookbook is old and well used. (Note the recipe above it is the marshmallow version!) My daughter was on a rare visit here, so I didn’t get any pictures of the fudge making process. Here’s the recipe as I made it.
Chocolate Walnut Fudge
1 cup (raw) milk
6 Tbs cocoa powder
2 Tbs ghee (or softened butter)
2 cups turbinado (raw) sugar
2 Tbs pure maple syrup (I used grade B)
Few grains salt
2 Tbs ghee (or butter)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped (crispy) walnuts (optional)
Butter an 8-inch-square cake pan and set aside. Measure the cocoa powder and 2 Tbs of ghee into a heavy saucepan and turn burner to warm (this is the lowest setting of my stove top burner). Mix until all of the cocoa powder is completely moistened and the ghee is just beginning to melt. Add the milk and turn the heat up to “moderately low,” which on my stove was 3-4. (My stove top knobs have the following settings: Lo, numerals 1-9, Hi) Stirring fairly often, incorporate the cocoa with the milk as well as you can. (You may still see flecks of cocoa in the milk) Once it is combined, add the sugar, syrup, and salt, and turn the heat up to medium (#5 on my stove top). Stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a boil (this took several minutes). Once it reaches a boil, cover the pan with a lid for one minute, then remove the lid and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until a candy thermometer registers 236o F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can test it by dropping a small amount of the mixture into cold water. If it forms a soft ball, it’s ready. I don’t remember exactly how long this took, but I think it was like 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining 2 Tbs of ghee or butter, along with vanilla, but DO NOT STIR. Cool to 1100 F. (lukewarm), which took about an hour. Beat by hand until fudge thickens and loses its gloss. This took several minutes, so my daughter and I took turns. Add nuts and pour into the buttered cake pan. When firm, cut into squares. Makes about 1 pound. Store in tightly covered container.
This fudge was just the way I remembered it from younger days and I would definitely use this recipe if I were to make it again.
This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays blog carnival, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.
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