Sunday, November 2, 2014

Life is Sweet!

Fudge ready to be wrapped
I wanted to let you know that November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).   From the 1st November through the 30th, I will be competing in the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel. The guidelines state you must not begin before the 1st but it must be completed by the 30th.  So, at midnight on November 1st I began writing.  I haven’t done this before so I’m not able to gauge my creative time very well yet.

Also, I am running in a local political campaign. The election is Tuesday.  After that is over, whether I win or lose, my brain will be able to think a little more creatively!

Chose quality ingredients

Through my blog, I always aim to share sustainability tips for your household, comparative methods for animal husbandry, amusing farming anecdotes, and recipes. Because I am pressed for time and creative thinking today, and because the holiday season is fast approaching I’ll share a few tips on fudge making.

Cream and Butter blending together over heat

Fudge isn’t difficult to make if you know how to make it correctly.  The consistency should be SMOOTH- it should NOT be granular. Let’s begin with a few pointers.

Butter, cream, sugar now together!

Choose a good pot. It should be heavy duty with a thick bottom so that it won’t scorch the fudge. Make sure its handles are solidly attached/ screwed in and heat resistant.  I’ve used the same pot for years.  It is a 6 qt heavy duty enamel sauce pan.  However, I do not cook tomato sauce in it. I keep my jelly pot, pasta sauce pot, and candy/fudge pot all separate.

Stir until all sugar is dissolved and blended well

Next, make sure you use quality ingredients. This brings to mind a time a few years ago when I was asked to decorate a friend’s daughter’s birthday castle cake.  She had bought a poor quality expired cake mix.  The decorating was beautiful and everyone was so complementary…..and then we took a bite! UGH! How disappointing. So, be sure to use pure cane sugar, lightly salted or salted butter, and regular evaporated milk…NOT light or fat free!

I always melt the butter in the saucepan first so that I’ve “greased” it, so speak.  
Next I add the evaporated milk and stir that well.
Then comes the sugar and now the fun begins!

A full boil, stirring constantly, will help it achieve the
correct temperature without scorching

 While the stove is on medium heat, continue stirring. You don’t want it to stick and you want it to heat evenly. This can be anywhere from 5-10 minutes.  Now, this is the point that you may judge differently than I do.  I don’t have a candy thermometer and never have. I use the method of “soft ball” or “hard ball” stage for baking fudge or candy.

Chocolate is smooth and silky
Steam has fogged the camera lens

Fudge should be heated on the stove to the “soft ball” consistency stage. This will make it silky smooth! Less than reaching that stage, it may never harden. Continuing to heat it past that stage, it will be terribly hard and crumbling before it’s out of the pot.

Expedite the process from the time it reaches the softball stage to
the point that it is placed in its cooling pan.
Once it has begun cooling, it can't be reshaped.

To determine if it’s reached the “soft ball” stage, periodically while it’s boiling at a full boil dribble some of the liquid into a cool cup of water.  While you continue to stir the pot on the stove, have someone else (or you if you can multi-task) reach into the cup and try to gather all the “dribbles” on the bottom and form a “soft ball” of dough.  If you can’t form a ball and pull it out of the cup and play with it like playdough, it’s not ready. Give it another minute and try again. You may have to try this several times.  Change the water….it should remain cool to get the most accurate results.

Add peanut butter, walnuts, or whatever is your
preference to make each batch unique!

Good luck!!  With helpful hints and practice, your fudge will also be the one everyone reaches for!!

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