A Fudgy Disaster
For Christmas my neighbor, Vanessa, and I take turns filling a log cabin cookie jar with homemade cookies and candy. I’d forgotten that I’d received the cookie jar last year and it was my turn to fill it and give it back. I was rummaging around in the basement, going through unmarked boxes of Christmas decorations when I saw the cookie jar.
My mind went blank, my eyes glazed and my shoulders slumped. It was a week and a half from Christmas and my schedule was packed. Also, the nearest grocery store is thirty minutes away. What ingredients were in the cupboard and what could be made with them? I settled on ginger cookies, cherry-nut bars and a Hershey’s fudge recipe I’d never tried before.
The ginger cookies were a snap. Enough of them broke to justify eating a handful. The cherry-nut bars take a little more time to make but are well worth the effort. They look beautiful and are delicious.
Then there was the fudge. Looking back through the years I realized I’ve never made fudge. Once a year, when I was growing up, my dad made fudge and it was a special treat. My friends make fudge, but I never have. But how hard could it be, right?
The recipe I chose looked pretty easy. I got the sugar, cocoa and milk heating to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. The recipe said to get it up to 234 degrees, the soft ball stage on a candy thermometer. How are you supposed to keep stirring, as per the recipe instructions, and measure the temperature, without the thermometer touching the bottom of the pan? Can’t be done.
I let the mixture boil for a good minute and hoped it was hot enough. The recipe said to remove the pan from the heat, add butter and vanilla, DO NOT STIR and let it all cool down to 110 degrees.
A couple hours later the fudge was still at 160 to 165 degrees. Really!? I waited another forty-five minutes, still at 150 degrees. My patients ran out. I stirred the mixture until it lost some of the gloss, added the walnuts and poured it all into an eight inch square pan, lined with aluminum foil and greased with butter. It sure looked runny for fudge. I let it sit on the counter for thirty minutes. The fudge wasn’t setting up so time in the fridge was my next choice.
I checked the fudge after supper. The walnuts had floated to the top and formed a crust. But just below the surface it was dark brown, rich and syrupy. I closed the refrigerator door and decided to wait until morning.
Nothing had changed. The pan was full of chocolaty fudgy ooze. A teaspoon full proved it was really good but it wasn’t fudge.
What was I going to do? Throwing it away wasn’t an option. I hate wasting food and it really was delicious. Then I knew; ice cream topping. A test that evening proved it was perfect. I ladled the “fudge” into two pint canning jars. It’s the best chocolate-fudge ice cream topping I’ve ever had.