19 December 2007

Fantasy Fudge for the Holidays

There are just a few things that say "Christmas" to me. I think this is the case with most people. Those things can be varied and obscure, but are often rooted in tradition, nostalgia, and fond memories. Over the next few days, I'm going to attempt to write about a few of the things that make Christmas truly Christmas-y for me simply because of the nostalgia with which they are imbued in my mind.

Ever since I can remember, there were two things that my mom made especially for Christmas--homemade fudge and English toffee. The whole process of making candy absolutely fascinated me through my childhood. When I was old enough, maybe 8 years old, Mom let me help out instead of just watch. I was usually responsible for stirring because keeping the sugar and butter mixture stirring constantly was critical as it heated to the temperature desired for either soft ball (fudge) or hard crack (toffee).

Mom's fudge recipe is no secret. It's the recipe that Kraft has been printing on its jars of Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme (an essential ingredient in fudge) for eons . The recipe is "officially" called "Fantasy Fudge". I didn't know that until I was an adult. All I knew was that Mom's fudge was the best! There wasn't any other kind of fudge from any fancy candy shop that could rival it and still have yet to find one. And the funny thing is that it's a Kraft recipe!

Now, even though I am very health-conscious and a big proponent of nutritious and healthy eating I must say that there are some foods that fall into a "special" category reserved for nostalgic "comfort foods" that are made as part of a family tradition. Those foods should be celebrated. I can account for the calories somehow, but darned if I'm going to feel guilty for carrying on a family tradition that makes Christmas feel right to me.

So without further adieu, here is the recipe straight off the Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme jar sitting here on my desk:

Fantasy Fudge
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine--go with the butter)
1 small can (5 oz.) evaporated milk (about 2/3 cup)
1 1/2 pkg. (12 squares) Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, chopped
1 jar (7 oz.) Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme
1 cup chopped walnuts (or leave them out if you have an allergy like Hubby does)
1 tsp. vanilla

Line 9-inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan; set aside. Place sugar, butter and evaporated milke in large heavy saucepan. Bring to full rolling boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 4 min. or until candy thermometer reaches 234ºF (soft ball), stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.

Add chocolate and marshmallow creme, stir until completely melted. Add walnuts (if desired) and vanilla; mix well.

Pour immediately into prepared pan; spread to form even layer in pan. Let stand at room temperature 4 hours or until completely cooled; cut into 1-inch squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature. Makes 3 lb. or 40 servings, about two squares each.

Variation - Classic Fantasy Fudge (the way Mom always made it)
Prepare recipe as directed, using 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) margarine and substituting 1 pkg. (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips for the chopped BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate and a 13x9-inch baking pan for the 9-inch square pan.

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories 170
Total fat 8 g
Saturated fat 4 g
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 45 mg
Carbohydrate 25 g
Dietary fiber 1 g
Sugars 23 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A 2 %DV
Vitamin C 0 %DV
Calcium 0 %DV
Iron 2 %DV

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