Monday, December 7, 2009
The White Stuff
When my sister was in junior high the thing to do at sleepovers was to make fudge. Why? I don't know other than a bunch of 13 year old girls plus a big pan of chocolate was a pretty good mix. I couldn't wait to be that cool, so when one of my friends invited me to spend the night, I volunteered to bring a fudge recipe. What I hadn't thought through was that her father was an orthodontist and sugar was frowned upon in her household. It was well-kown that on Halloween, theirs was the house that handed out toothbrushes and travel-sized tubes of toothpaste. Poor deprived girl!
I just don't relate to that "no sugar" mindset. What would your sweetie give you for Valentine's Day? A box of tofu crisps? And what about when you're stressed and really need to bake? Do unsweetened rutabaga bars with carrot crumble truly hit the spot? And how about girlfriend time - how's that supposed to work without sugar?
Well, fortunately for my girlfriends, they don't have to find out. We're having our annual cookie exchange soon and these beauties just might make it onto the plate (if my family doesn't devour it all first).
This is a new technique for me. I've made fudge here and here, and someday I'll post my positively fabulous creamy fudge, but today's involved a hot syrup, waiting for an hour, and then a handheld mixer. A slightly different approach, but still rich, creamy, and wonderfully chocolatey. Adding crushed peppermint makes it perfect for Christmas time. Treat yourself or hand out bags to friends, family, and random strangers. Share the love. And the sugar.
May your days be merry and bright, and may all your baking sugar be white. (Except for the brown and dark brown, of course)
Perfect Peppermint Fudge
- adapted from Fine Cooking
3 Tbs. cold unsalted butter; more at room temperature for buttering the thermometer and pan
3-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup crushed peppermint candy
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. light corn syrup
1 generous tsp kosher salt
1- Lightly butter the face of a candy thermometer and set aside.
2- n a large (4-quart) heavy-duty saucepan combine the sugar, cream, chocolate, corn syrup, and salt, stirring with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula until the ingredients are moistened and combined. Stirring gently and constantly, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, 7 to 12 minutes. Cover the saucepan and let the steam clean the sides of the pan for 2 minutes. This prevents the formation of sugar crystals in the fudge.
3 -Clip the candy thermometer to the pot, being careful not to let the tip of the thermometer touch the bottom of the pot, or you might get a false reading. Let the mixture boil without stirring until it reaches 236°F to 238°F, 2 to 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the butter, but do not stir it into the mixture. Set the pan on a rack in a cool part of the kitchen. Don’t disturb the pan in any way until the mixture has cooled to 110°F, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
4- While the mixture is cooling, line the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two opposite sides of the pan. Butter the foil. Set the pan aside.
5- Remove the thermometer from the fudge mixture. Using a hand mixer, beat the mixture on high speed until it is a few shades lighter in color and thickens enough that the beaters form trails that briefly expose the bottom of the pan as they pass through, 10 to 20 minutes. (Mine had kind of a caramelly consistency when I began beating it. I might have beat mine too long, but it wasn't nearly 10 to 20 minutes. It started clumping. That wasn't a problem, though, as I just pressed it into the pan.)
6- After beating the fudge, stir in 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy. Pour the thickened fudge into the prepared pan, using a rubber spatula to help nudge it out of the pot. You can scrape the bottom of the pot but not the sides; any crystals that stick to the pot stay in the pot. Smooth the top of the fudge with the spatula. Sprinkle 1/4 cup crushed candy over the fudge. Set the pan on a rack and let the fudge cool completely, about 2 hours. The fudge will be slightly soft the day it’s made but will firm up overnight.
Turn the fudge out onto a clean cutting board and peel off the foil. Turn the slab of fudge right side up and cut it into 25 equal pieces.
The fudge will keep for a week to 10 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature.