Monday, February 6, 2012

Oh, fudge!

Greetings and salutations!  I'm Glori, your host.  I originally hail from the M42 nebula in the constellation of Orion.  Nowadays I can be found in donut shops, waiting at the head of the line at Humphrey Bogart film festivals, or shadowing the Springy Goddess, Astreja Odinsdóttir, just in case She needs assistance, advice, or a raspberry jambuster.

To set the tone of this blog, I thought we'd start with something sweet:

Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons corn syrup (white or golden)
  • Enough milk to make a smooth batter (start with 1/2 cup and add more as required)
  • Unsalted butter (a little bit to grease a plate, plus a tablespoon or two to add to the cooked mixture)
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla (also to add near the end)

First things first:  Butter a heat-resistant plate of your choice, right up to the edges.  Set aside for now.

Mix the sugar, peanut butter, corn syrup and milk in a deep pot.  Cook at medium heat, stirring very occasionally, until it starts to do a slow, rolling boil.

At this point, let the mixture continue to cook as you go to the sink and fill it several inches deep with cold water.  Also fill a small bowl with cold water and bring it back to the stove.

Every minute or so, take a small amount of the mixture (half a teaspoon or less) and drizzle it into the cold water.  At first it'll just go splat and spread all over the bottom of the bowl.  Dump the bowl into the sink and refill it with fresh water.  Wait another minute and try again.  After about 5 or 6 minutes, the mixture should start to form into balls as it hits the water, and have a firmer texture.  This is the soft ball stage, where the sugar in the fudge starts holding together properly.

Stop stirring!  Turn off the burner, take the pot off the stove, and transfer it to the sink that you filled with water.  (Aim the tap somewhere else so that water doesn't drip into the fudge.)  Drop the remainder of the butter into the mixture, but don't stir; just let it melt on the top.

When the butter has finished melting. pour in the vanilla in  (and continue to refrain from stirring -- If you stir fudge when it's too hot, things frequently go Terribly Wrong and you end up with sugary, grainy fudge).

After a few minutes more, you'll be able to touch the bottom of the pot with your hand and it'll feel warm-ish rather than hot.  Now's your big chance!  Take the pot out of the sink, wipe away any water drips, and stir fast, trying to whip lots of air into the mixture.  As it starts to thicken, you'll have to play it by ear to know exactly when to pour it onto the plate.  Too soon and the fudge will be thin and flat (but still taste pretty good); too late, and you'll have to gouge it out of the pot.  Best to make your move when you feel that first bit of resistance that indicates the fudge is hardening; by the time you've finished transferring it, the last few spoonfuls will be almost solid.

Subdivide your fudge with a water-dampened kitchen knife as it hardens.  Serve immediately, or cover lightly with plastic for later consumption.