Kitchen Challenge is BACK, y’all! And we’re starting off with a bang, with a challenge that’s been haunting me for years. I may be kicking myself in a few weeks when I’ve made three dozen batches of chocolate sand…
I’ve attempted old fashioned fudge before. Multiple times, in fact. Most recently last weekend when I had a brilliant idea for a valentine’s day dessert. Unfortunately… it didn’t turn out so well. Everything seemed like it was going fine and I was beating the cooled fudge until it “lost its glossy sheen” according to the recipe. I put my spoon down for ONE second to grab my camera and… what was smooth and fluid seconds before had solidified into a sandstone-like mass. “Pour” it into the prepared pan? Yeah right. How about scrape and plunk. The mass was hard and crumbly, disintegrating into crystalline crumbles when you touched it.
There is a reason that “fudge” has become a makeshift swear word.
Even before this last disaster, I’d say I’ve made enough failed fudge to feed an elementary school. I attempted to develop a brown sugar fudge recipe for the first book. Every batch I made was either goopy and soft, or hard as a rock (never sandy though, that’s a new one to me). I think I went through 6 or 7 iterations of that recipe before I finally threw in the towel and grabbed a bag of powdered sugar for what I call “cheater” fudge. Damn good, of course, but it’s not the “real thing”.
Indeed, I might be crazy for putting forth such a challenge, I might hate myself in a few weeks (and you might hate me too). But I’m determined to get this right. DETERMINED I tell you.
For this challenge, you must make old fashioned fudge. The kind they sell at the quaint little country stores in the Tennessee hills. Meaning get out your candy thermometer and boil some sugar. If I see a jar of marshmallow fluff or a bag of powdered sugar or a can of sweetened condensed milk… well… you’re fired.
- Boiling Sugar. One stray crystal and it all goes down the drain in one rock hard mass. If you can get it out of the pan, that is.
- Temperature. A precise candy thermometer is essential to this challenge. Calibrate it. And if you live above 1000 feet, be sure to adjust for elevation.
- Weather. Once again, sugar and humidity don’t mix. This is not a rainy day activity.
- Sanity. I may need counseling after this one. So might my husband, for that matter. Wish us luck?
Resources & Recipes:
- The batch above came from my trusty vintage candy-making book, Candy (The Good Cook Techniques & Recipes Series). This book proved a success for the taffy challenge, and I really appreciate the detailed instructions and step by step photos, but it failed nonetheless. I think I’m going to find a recipe with cocoa powder and corn syrup this time.
- Like this recipe from Land ‘O Lakes. I’m not sure how fudge made with cocoa powder and chocolate differs, but seeing as how my chocolate batch failed so miserably I’m inclined to try to the cocoa version. Hershey’s has a nearly identical cocoa fudge recipe, minus the corn syrup and with milk instead of half and half. Honestly, the smidge of corn syrup is very comforting.
- Alton Brown’s fudge recipe seems far too simple to be real. His uses unsweetened chocolate and a bit of corn syrup too. I’ll pass on the nuts.
- I’m really grasping here, eager for any all tips and tricks you may have from anyone who has successfully made fudge before. If you have even an inkling at what I did wrong and how to fix it, well, I’d love you forever. And if you have a tried-and-true recipe, please share! This is a group effort and I’m convinced if we all put our heads together we can figure this out.
Attempt a batch of old-fashioned fudge by Friday, February 28th and send me a photo of your results (good or bad, the point here is to put forth your best effort). I’ll post about my experience the following week along with a roundup of everyone who was
stupid brave enough to tackle this challenge with me.
The Kitchen Challenge series is simply about getting in the kitchen and challenging yourself to make something new; you aren’t required to have a blog to participate, nor are you required to post about it if you do. However, if you do have a blog and post about the challenge, you are more than welcome to use the above graphic.