Sunday, December 14, 2008

Grandma Ellen's Fudge

Grandma Ellen's Fudge, originally uploaded by chrisfreeland2002.

My grandma Ellen has a legendary sweet tooth. To this day she will start a meal with a slice of pie or other dessert so that she can be sure to "have enough room for it." I inherited her love of sweets, and her solemn understanding that the most important part of a, of a sugary confection, cake, or pastry.

Although she was reknowned for her pie-making skills (Best. Crust. EVER!), she was no shlub with candy either. One of her specialties was a rich, dense fudge that she made by the acre during the holidays. Now in her late 80's, she has given up cooking, but luckily my family and I have had a lifetime of working alongside her to learn her tips and tricks. One of the best lessons I learned from her was to experiment, and over the years I've figured out a few tweaks to her base recipe that sit well with my particular palette and culinary point of view. I now regularly include instant coffee and ground cardamom, both of which spice up the chocolate and really enhance the flavor of the fudge.

I naturally think of Grandma every time I make this fudge, and I pass it along here so that you can enjoy it as well. Fair warning: this fudge is really, really rich (which, come on, is NOT a bad thing when you're talking about fudge). You'll want a tall glass of cold milk onhand, and possibly some give in your waistband because I guarantee you'll eat several pieces. And you will be happier for doing so!

1 cup whole milk
1/2 lb unsalted butter
4 cups sugar
25 large marshmallows
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
12 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
12 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla
1 T instant coffee
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Pinch of salt

Butter a 9x13 glass baking dish and set aside.

Heat milk, butter, and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat until dissolved (I use a 5qt enameled cast iron pot). Stir in marshmallows until dissolved, then bring to a slow boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and spices until well blended. Pour into the buttered baking dish and refrigerate 4-6 hours, until solid.

To cut, remove from fridge & bring to room temperature. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container, separating layers with waxed paper. Store, refrigerated, up to 2 weeks. You can either serve it cold (meaning: eat it straight out of the container every time you walk by the 'fridge) or let it come to room temperature for a smoother texture. Either way it's delicious!

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