Chocolate Walnut Fudge

Last year the cool weather was refusing to go away and I was daydreaming about sunny days at the beach. And you can’t go to the beach and not enjoy some fudge. At least I can’t. And then I realized that I had never actually made fudge. Shame on me! So I whipped up a batch using a quick and easy fudge recipe that included sweetened condensed milk. It was really good, but I vowed to make honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned fudge around the holidays. That was last year, and the fudge never happened. That would make my deadline quite overdue at this point. Which means one of my very first priorities once the turkey leftovers made their way into the freezer was to grab a wooden spoon and whip up some fudge!

This definitely takes longer than the quick version and demands a little more attention (as well as a candy thermometer) but I think it comes much closer to the flavor that you find at all of those little fudge shops perched up on the boardwalk. Nothing beats that mixture of salty ocean air dancing around in circles with the intoxicating fudge smell. As the snow starts to fall here, I’ll eat my homemade fudge and daydream about dipping my toes in the sand in another few months.

And I’ll probably wrap some of this up in pretty little packages and give it as gifts. While I watch Elf. ‘Tis the season!

One year ago: Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

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Chocolate Walnut Fudge

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar

½ cup half-and-half

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup light corn syrup

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped


Directions:

1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil that extends over the sides. Butter the foil and set aside.


2. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, half-and-half, heavy cream, light corn syrup and salt. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, for 1 minute. Brush down the sites of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in warm water to remove any sugar crystals that may have formed, and remove from the heat.


3. Stir in the chocolate until melted and completely smooth. Set the pan over medium heat and place a candy thermometer in the pan. Cook the mixture, without stirring, until it reaches 234 degrees F, the soft-ball stage. Remove from the heat.


4. Add the butter and vanilla but just let float on top - do not stir in (stirring at this point can cause graininess).


5. Cool the candy to 110 degrees F by placing the bottom of the pan in cold water to stop the cooking.


6. When it is cool, stir the fudge in the pan with a wooden spoon just until it "snaps" and begins to lose its sheen. (Alternately, transfer the cooled fudge to the bowl of a heavy duty mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the fudge on low speed until it begins to thicken and lose its sheen, 5 to 10 minutes. Watch the mixture carefully or it may thicken too much and become unworkable.)


7. Stir in the walnuts. Turn the fudge out into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with an offset spatula, dipping it in hot water as needed. Let stand for at least 1 hour.


8. Use a large knife to score the fudge into 1-inch squares. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours.


9. Remove the fudge from the pan and peel off the foil. Use the knife to finish cutting the fudge into squares. The fudge can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Serve at room temperature.


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(Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking)


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