I’m excited to experiment with high-tech blogging as a very high-touch way to presence my passion for cooking and how it creates heartful connection.
After forty years of authoring books that take me years to write and then having to find just the right publisher, with yet another year gone before actual publication, I will be able to instantly post my thoughts and recipes myself. Now I can share with you what is going on in my kitchen, my herb garden and my life right now.
Why call this blog Divine Fudge?
Partly because the history of fudge is that someone on the east coast of America botched a batch of caramel and it evolved into something entirely new. Fudge, like penicillin and Post-It notes, morphed from a mistake into something that worked, a counter offer to someone’s original intent that turned out to be so much better than what they thought they were stirring up. I like to think they said, “Oh, fudge!” thus creating the name.
So, isn’t fudge a metaphor for life itself? It always turns out much more interesting than all the plans we make.
Fudge is where my passion for cooking for others began, in my mother Mimi's kitchen when I was four years old, a flour sack towel tied around me as an apron. Mimi and I enjoyed shelling and chopping fresh walnuts for her fabulous chocolate fudge. She showed me how to level the measuring cup of sugar and pour vanilla (made from the pods of an orchid plant!) into a tablespoon with a steady hand. She demonstrated more in action than words that the reverence she put into that batch of fudge became a gift to those who consumed it. Blessings in every bite!
Food made with love always tastes better. But does love really have a flavor?
Yes it does! And today it tastes like the fragrance and feel of the finest ingredients, warm memories of recipes passed down, and a deep appreciation for that last lick of luscious chocolate from my mixing bowl.
Love tastes like gratitude.
Here is the epicurean fudge recipe I have more requests for than any other. I continue to tweak it, trying all kinds of nuts and other ingredients. Because it doesn't require a candy thermometer, it is easier than the old-fashioned kind and much more dependable.
Usually I make my own marshmallow (very easy!) so the recipe is purely natural, but I will leave that as a blog subject for another day.
For approximately 64 squares or 8 mini-loaves
14 ounces dark chocolate, broken up or chopped (see Note)
1¼ cups finely chopped walnuts, or other nuts, lightly toasted (optional)
10 tablespoons soft butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups sugar
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
22 large marshmallows
Note: Today my preference is to use 4 (3.5 ounce) bars of Valrhona chocolate (2 bars dark bittersweet, 1 bar semisweet, and 1 bar dark bitter), purchased most economically at Trader Joe's.
Combine the chocolate pieces, nuts, butter, and vanilla in a large heatproof bowl, preferably one with a spout for easy pouring.
Line an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan, or the 8 cavities in a mini-loaf pan with parchment paper (preferably unbleached) . Or, lightly butter a flat cold surface like granite or marble, or even a baking sheet. Set out a large rubber spatula.
Combine the sugar, evaporated milk and marshmallows in a heavy-bottomed 5- to 6-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly with a large wire whisk or a sturdy wooden spoon or large whisk. When the marshmallows melt and the mixture comes to a boil set your timer for 8 minutes. Stir almost constantly until the buzzer rings. Now is a good time to stir in your wishes or prayers for those who will enjoy your Divine Fudge.
Remove from the heat and very carefully (it is super hot!) pour the marshmallow mixture over the chocolate, butter and nuts. Whisk or beat constantly until the chocolate and butter have melted and the mixture is very smooth. Quickly pour into the prepared pan(s) or onto a cold surface, using a rubber spatula for spreading the fudge evenly and making a few decorative swirls in the top.
Cool overnight before removing from pans. If not making in mini-loaves, cut into pieces. For best flavor, serve fudge at room temperature. (I wrap loaves in individual plastic bags, clear mini treat bags made by Wilton available in the candy making section at Michael’s craft stores.)
TO PREPARE IN ADVANCE: Fudge becomes firmer the longer it is stored and keeps beautifully at room temperature for up to a week, in the refrigerator up to a month, or in the freezer indefinitely.