Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friday Feast: Sweets for your sweetie!

Okay, I know I missed the post yesterday. I had good intentions. It just never happened.
But I'm here today - a whole day late. Meh. Well....I think I'm late for everything since my little people were born. So I'm just keeping with the trend.

We're not real big on Valentine's Day around here - but I do try to make a little something special for everyone. And by special, I mean chocolate. Of course.

I like fudge. It's delicious. It's nutritious (well, not technically, but it rhymed). And it's just good.
Until recently, I had a heckuva time making fudge. I tried. Repeatedly. But I never got it right. Something about the consistency and the setting. It just wasn't right.

I was inspired by a recipe I saw in an old magazine, and thought I would give it one more try. And it is the best recipe I've ever found - and helped me realize my mistake. I wasn't letting the mixture boil long enough. I didn't bother with a pesky candy thermometer. My mom never used one, and her fudge was always perfect. So I fought the urge to buy one -- until a few weeks ago. I successfully mastered this recipe without a candy therm, so it can be done!

Basic Smudge
Carys calls it 'smudge'.
I don't know why, but the name stuck.

Below is the pecan version - recipe at the end.
3 c sugar
3/4 c butter (1.5 sticks)
2/3 c evaporated milk
2 c choc chips (12 oz)
1 jar marshmallow fluff (7 oz)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Line a pan with foil. I use different pans - sometimes a jelly roll pan, sometimes a 8x8 brownie pan. It doesn't matter. Just make sure you butter the foil of whatever pan you use - it will make for easier removal later.
In a heavy saucepan, bring sugar, butter & milk to a boil over medium heat. Cook & stir until candy thermometer is 234 degrees (soft ball stage). If you don't have a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to a rolling boil and keep it there for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Stir in chocolate, marshmallow fluff & vanilla until smooth. Pour into buttered pan. You can let it stand on the counter, but I prefer to pop it in the fridge. Your option though. When it's fully set and firm, remove foil from the pan and cut into squares.
Makes about 4 pounds.

There you have it. My basic smudge recipe.
I've been playing around with it -- which I highly encourage you to do, also.
Try these:

Snickers Smudge
Chop six regular-sized Snickers bars in a food processor. (You can do it by hand, but it's so much easier to pop it in the FP.) When you pour the smudge mixture into the pan, only pour half. Then sprinkle all the chopped candy onto the smudge. Cover with the remaining smudge.

Pecan Smudge
(For my dad who loves both Smudge & Pecans)
After you mix the vanilla in, go ahead & mix in about 1.5 cups of chopped pecans. Then pour it all in the pan and let it firm up, as normal.

S'more Smudge
(Something special we thought up for my dad's birthday)
Pour half of the smudge mixture into a buttered pan, and then add 1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed to bite-sized pieces (which is a great activity for the kiddos - put the crackers in a couple o' ziplocs & let them crush to their heart's content). Sprinkle mini marshmallows on top. Then cover with the remaining smudge mix. Top with more mini marshmallows, if desired -- but be sure to press them into the fudge a bit with the palm of your hand.

Smudge Truffles
This is a bit tricky, but is a special, beautiful, delicate treat. I've been thinking of this for a while and tried a few the last time I made a batch of smudge. Wow, is all I can say.
Follow the recipe - butter & foil a pan. But - when it comes time to pour the smudge into the pan - DO NOT DO IT! Pour it into a large bowl instead. Let it cool slightly, until it's cool enough to handle with your fingers. I used a small cookie scoop that worked perfectly, FYI. Scoop/form into small balls - and then place them on the foil. Once they've fully set in the fridge or on the counter, roll them in a good quality cocoa powder.

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