2019: Q… A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories: Queen of the Fudge
I’m back for “Year 4” of the A to Z… April Challenge!
My first year of this challenge had me racking my brain for a writing topic… especially as I didn’t quite understand the process. But finally I came up with 2016: Southern Foods and Memories. They said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew. 2017: Conversations with Mama was a somewhat easy one for me as I’d journaled our conversations for years so I researched some of my favorite topics to write on. 2018: All About Nancy Drew has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another to equal it. It literally had me researching every day for over six months… researching, reading and perfecting every post. I was totally consumed with Nancy Drew for months… and still am! I didn’t want to “not” participate this year, but I was drawing a blank. Finally, mid February, I came up with writing on my husband’s Italian family foods and memories. I did my Southern foods the first year, so it was time to finally give his family their due! I’m also participating in the yearly 52 Ancestors 52 Stories this year… I am really feeling over-extended this month. April is a tough month for me, as we usually are traveling to my mother’s and my son in Florida… but somehow I’ll manage!
I think I can safely say that before marrying into an Italian family, I had never eaten any of the foods I’m blogging on this month… such an underprivileged child I was! Growing up in the South where we ate fried chicken, okra, black-eyed peas, butter beans, mashed potatoes, creamed style corn and southern biscuits! Oh My…!
Queen Celia’s Fudge
I never had homemade Fudge until I had my mother in laws… and I was hooked! She was known for her Fudge… no one ever made it but her. I often practiced at her house so she could watch over my shoulder… until I perfected it. It took quite a bit of practice… but no one ever complained… as they had Fudge every week. Now that I’m writing about it… it’s time to go make Fudge!
Simple ingredients… make the best fudge!
There are many types of Fudge… from peanut butter, marshmallow, peppermint…. the list goes on and on, but this one is made with basic ingredients that you always have in your house. The only thing missing today on that can, is the original recipe that my mother in law found on her Hershey’s Cocoa can in 1950.
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cocoa Fudge recipe on Hershey can
Directions: Combine sugar, salt, cocoa and milk in 4 or 5 quart pan. Use low heat as the milk warms… giving you time to mix in the other ingredients; I use a whisk to mix slowly, or you’ll have cocoa smoke all over! When all blended well, bring to a roiling boil, then turn down slightly (I now begin to time it – 16 min.) as soon as it starts to boil… it shouldn’t be too high or too low of a boil, but a medium rolling boil.
I made this for Valentines Day this year (2019) for hubby so I paid more close attention to all the details. I started it on a med. 3 on my gas stove… once it was completely mixed, I upped it to a 4 to 5 to get the rolling boil, then turned it down to between 3 and 4 on my gas knob. You want a rolling boil across the top of the mixture, but you don’t want it bubbling so much it starts to creep up the sides of the pan.
While 16 minutes isn’t that long… believe me… when you’re standing there stirring… it seems like forever!
This should boil on medium heat for 16 minutes, stirring almost constantly. After 16 minutes remove from heat, add butter and vanilla, and continue stirring with wooden spoon until it reaches the correct consistency to pour. (Hershey says the mixture will reach 234F on the candy thermometer when its ready to come off the stove) I did use a candy thermometer once for a “ha ha”… and yes it was correct, but as I’ve made it so often, I just know the look and feel of when it’s ready.
Knowing when to remove from heat… and later to pour is the secret weapon. In reading this recipe on the Hershey website… it lists this recipe as “expert”…. so I guess I’m an expert on this Fudge recipe!
On Hershey’s site it says: Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. I’ve never measured my vanilla in adding to any recipe and when hubby began cooking, he often asked me why I never measured… and my answer was, “I’ve never measured my vanilla when pouring… why start now!”
DO NOT STIR: Cool at room temperature to 110°F (lukewarm). Beat with wooden spoon until fudge thickens and just begins to lose some of its gloss (about 7 minutes). Quickly spread in prepared pan; cool completely. Cut into squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature. About 64 pieces or 1-3/4 pounds. You can continue stirring off heat to help it cool down… or just let it sit there off stove burner for about 5 minutes or more before stirring it to continue the cool down.
Be prepared with your buttered pan to pour into!
What I do: I remove the pan from heat, add butter and vanilla and began stirring to help the Fudge cool down. My mother in law used to sit it in ice water, but I don’t bother. It is time consuming in all the stirring to cool it, but so worth it! As you stir you’ll feel a different consistency the fudge takes on. In the beginning it will be more of a liquid, but eventually you’ll see, and feel it becoming thicker. Next, it will feel sticky on the sides of the pan as you stir…. I’m constantly scraping down the sides. What you’re looking for is when the fudge starts to become sugary in texture on the sides… with a sugary glaze showing on top. Believe me, when it’s ready to pour… you better be fast… as one second too late and you’ll not be able to pour it into your buttered dish… you’ll be scraping it out of the pan!
Just after I poured this fudge, I took a photo… as I couldn’t hold the camera and hot pan at the same time… my phone surely would have ended up in the fudge! It poured out in ribbons and it quickly began to set… I noticed sugary circles forming in the pan… that told me it was going to be perfect… and it was!
After pouring into a buttered pan (I used an 8-inch dish), I cool slightly in the refrigerator for a few minutes, but before it’s completely cool I cut into squares while it’s still slightly soft. Don’t forget to add lots of nuts if you so desire, but not everyone likes them in my house so I only put on one side… and believe me the eyes are on me when I have the nuts out… so I don’t stray over on their side. But when they’re desperate for that last piece of fudge “with nuts“, they’ll pick out the nuts and eat mine!
It turned out perfect!
Queen of the Fudge… Cecelia Insalaco with her son… my hubby!
Continue reading more of the A to Z… Cooking Famiglia Italian Foods and Memories
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