Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Traditionally, Mother's Day gifts include flowers and chocolates. And, fresh flowers or a potted plant are cherished gifts as much as they ever were. So, if the price of flowers is climbing a bit, you can always scale back on the number of buds or the size of the plant and still offer a perfectly acceptable gift. Chocolates are something else. And, if you haven't noticed it, the cost of a box of good chocolates has doubled in the last couple of years - very unlike most family income during this time. And, sorry to say, there's almost no way to fake the quality of boxed chocolates. Either they're really good (and costly) or they taste like cheap candy and are unacceptable as gifts. One way to get around this problem is to make your own chocolates for Mother's Day. What you need is an almost foolproof way to make delicious chocolate. GrandmaS - as usual - has a suggestion.

Here's a way to make a Mother's Day gift of delicious chocolate fudge, and this one won't break the family piggy bank. It's a super easy recipe, and the individual pieces shaped in candy cups look great boxed up and wrapped as a gift.

My chocolate fudge love story
I've loved chocolate fudge ever since I can remember, and my earliest sweet memories involve eating this rich and creamy homemade candy. My grandmother was an accomplished candy maker, as well as baker of pies, cakes, etc. She taught my Mom and all my aunts to make good fudge, although none of them reached her level of mastery at candy making.

Despite our urgings, my Mom didn’t always make as much fudge as my sister and I wanted to eat. So, I started making my own version from about the age of ten - with varying successes and failures. Of course, we even ate the failures, overlooking some near-burned flavors and grainy textures. Eventually, I became a decent fudge maker and branched out to prepare different kinds, including peanut butter, vanilla, maple-flavor, and combinations, too.

After the decade of the seventies and beyond, more and more things were purchased at the store, and fudge making, at least in my family, was extremely sporadic. Also, with the little practice that I was getting, I had a lot of failures. And, somewhere along the way, I just gave up on fudge making. But, then a few years later, a good friend of mine gave me some fudge that she made. It was creamy and tasted great. I immediately asked for her recipe, and when I saw it, I was surprised that the instructions were so simple. It called for a double boiler and fast cooking and always turned out perfect. At last, I’d found a way to begin fudge making again. As a variation on the cooking method, I've recently switched to microwave melting on a low-power setting. It involves fewer steps but requires some watching to prevent scorching. Consideration of my waistline, as that of my husband's who's a total chocolate freak, has kept me from preparing the quantities of fudge that I once did. But now, I can easily and guiltlessly make fudge for gift giving from time to time.

Easy Chocolate Fudge Recipe
What I'm sharing here I consider as a foolproof recipe - almost guaranteed to avoid failures caused by grainy, crystallized fudge. And, no longer do fudge makers have to be burdened with a candy thermometer. You don't even have to pay much attention to it while it's cooking, either. So, you'll want to prepare several batches at the same time. That way you'll make the Mother’s Day gifts you want and still have a supply at home.

16 ounces semisweet chocolate. (Choose the best grade of chocolate you can find. Don't use chocolate chips because they're meant to hold their shape when baked into cookies. That means they'll be goopy, hard to melt, and may cause an unfortunate variation in flavor.)
14 ounces of canned, sweetened condensed milk  (with no high-fructose corn sugar, please.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Tiny pinch of salt

Put all the ingredients in a double boiler and melt the fudge mixture. Or use a microwave-safe container and set the microwave oven on low power, checking and stirring about every minute to avoid scorching. Stir occasionally until smooth and completely melted. Cut off the heat but leave the fudge in the double boiler to avoid quick setting. If using the microwave, remove the container from the oven and place it in a saucepan of hot water to keep it fluid while you fill up the cups.

Drop a rounded teaspoon of chocolate into each mini-cupcake liners. Smooth over the top with the back of a small, greased spoon. Put the cups in a mini-muffin pan or any other flat-bottomed container that will hold them.

Decorate the pieces of chocolate with confectioners' sugar, candy sprinkles, coconut flakes, candied fruit or half-nut pieces pressed into the top. Don't worry about little variations from one piece to another. It's part of their handmade charm. Refrigerate for at least ten minutes to allow the chocolate to set. Makes from 25 to 30 candy cups.

Notes: Box the pieces and wrap the gift nicely. Make an attractive, hand written gift card (with your own art work, if you like) and attach it to the box, advising that these candies are homemade – with much love - and best when stored in the refrigerator and removed just a few minutes before eating. By the way, I recently made this recipe and had to buy all the ingredients, including walnuts, coconut, vanilla, and the mini-cupcake liners - not having any of the necessary items on the kitchen shelf. The total cost for 30 good-sized pieces was $15.00. There may be cheaper chocolates out there, somewhere, but they're definitely not as good tasting and with the added bonus of being handmade.

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Anonymous said...

You brought back many memories. I don't remember any failures. We ate them all. Maybe some batches weren't up to par but we didn't even care. You got better and better as time went by.
One of my most special memories is of you and I, sitting in the floor in our living/TV room with a pan between us and two spoons. Scraping the pan after the fudge made it to a plate was a side benefit.
I will try again but you were always the candy maker. I was lousey at it. I just liked to eat the fruits of your efforts. Too many miles now. Jane took over where you left off. Now she is too many miles away. Guess I'm on my own.

GrandmaS said...

Sis, I'm glad our fudge making attempts were among your fondest memories. We always enjoyed our own cooking even when it was substandard by almost anyone's measure. By the way, please try the easy recipe mentioned in this post. But consider it, first. You may have too much success and have all your rather large family clamoring for more.

sherry hill said...

Loved this and am going to attempt it--once again. Never was any good at making fudge at all. But you have inspired me and this looks easy. Thanks!

GrandmaS said...

I'm almost sure that you and yours will love it. Good luck and, if you have time, let us know the results...

Anonymous said...

Our visit wasn't nearly long enough, but it never is.
Thank you for making fudge for me.. one more time.


GrandmaS said...

You're most welcome,Sis. I'll always be happy to make fudge for you. And I agree - our visits are never long enough...