For several years I’ve been making some type of caramel for Christmas gift baskets except for last year. I admit to a bit of pride in making them without the addition of corn syrup, just cream and sugar and butter and some flavoring along with a lot of stirring over heat. I did not intend to make them this year because my output of holiday goodies will be minimal, caramels are time stealers and I’m tired.
I did, however, decide to make both peanut butter fudge (done today) and a chocolate fudge recommended by my neighbor based on a recipe printed on the back of trademarked Marshmallow Fluff, the original creamy goo from Lynn, Massachusetts. It is a different type of “never-fail fudge” recipe than most of us on the West Coast use at Christmas-time. The marshmallow goo is stirred and boiled forever with the sugar, cream and butter and then the chocolate chips and vanilla are added just before the fudge is scooped into the buttered glass dish.
She and I agreed it tasted lovely last night when it was warm and I’d cut it into pieces for storage overnight and the divvy-up into tins soon. This morning it was hard and grainy! While I gave a small bag of it to a friend, I’ve since apologized and suggested a couple fixes.
Technology! I searched online for how-to’s and found consensus: add some cream and water with the fudge chunks in a heavy pot, turn heat on low and stir until the sugar melts, then turn up the heat, put in the candy thermometer and take off the heat when it’s reached 236-239 degrees Fahrenheit. It took almost two hours of constant stirring until I took it off the burner at 236 F. and quickly poured it in a buttered dish without scraping the sides of the pot. (I’d not scraped the pot last night either! which is the primary reason fudge goes grainy.)
A few minutes ago I went to wash the pot and scraped some of the chocolate from the edge into a spoon for a taste. It is indeed tasty, but it’s not fudge! It’s “accidental caramel.”
Some would say it was meant to be. Christmas caramels, after all, and chocolate to boot.