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Friday, October 7, 2011

Cool weather, Thanksgiving, Christmas... It's Fudge Time!






Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients

2 3/4 cups sugar

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

3 tablespoons butter (you will need extra butter to grease pan)

1 cup half-and-half

1 tablespoon corn syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped, roasted nuts, optional

Directions


Before you start making the fudge, grease an 8 by 8-inch pan with butter or non-stick spray. In a heavy saucepan, over a medium heat; mix sugar, chocolate, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter, half-and-half, and corn syrup. With a wooden spoon, stir sugar until it is dissolved and the chocolate is completely melted. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Insert a candy thermometer in the pot, and cook until the thermometer reads soft ball stage or 235 degrees F. Immediately, remove from the heat and add the other 1 ½ tablespoons of remaining butter. Without stirring*, let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes or until the temperature drops to 130 degrees F.  Now we are ready to add vanilla and roasted nuts (optional), and combine until well-blended and the mixture is not longer shiny. Pour into the prepared pan. Let it sit in cool, dry area until firm while eating what ever was left in the pot, and the stirring spoon (my favorite pastime.) Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Caution:

How many times, we have skipped an ingredient because the amount called for is minimum? Surely it cannot affect the taste of the recipe, right? Well, some of these ingredients can affect not only the flavor, but the texture of the finished product. Where am I going with this? I am just making sure you don’t skip the 1 lonely and miserable tablespoon of corn syrup listed on this recipe. After all, we using 2 ¾ cups of sugar, which should be plenty of sweeteners, right? Wrong! We are using a combination of two sugars, Sucrose (white sugar) and Glucose (corn syrup). When you cook up a batch of candy you cook sugar, water and other ingredients to a high temperature, making the sugar remaining in a solution form. As the candy begins to cool, the sugar molecules will crystallize back into its solid form. The more crystals are formed, the grainier the texture will be. One way to prevent crystallization is making sure that there are other types of sugars such as fructose or sucrose present in the mixture. The white sugar has a tough time forming crystals when molecules of fructose or glucose are present. There are lots of good fudge recipes that call for marshmallow cream and they work great because marshmallows are basically made out of corn syrup. If you want to learn more about molecules, atoms and such; visit the science of cooking - www.exploratorium.edu/cooking.

I'm a borderline-nerd!

* Stirring is one of the many factors that may cause the fructose and glucose molecules in your syrup to rejoin and form sucrose crystals (grainier texture). 

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