Penuche fudge – SUCCESS!!

Miracles really do happen. I made penuche fudge. And it set! Pardon me while I sob with joy.

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I guess the sixth time is the charm? It’s been over a year and a half since I first dabbled in making fudge, and it was such a discouraging endeavor I promised myself I’d wait a good long while before subjecting myself to such misery again.

I found this recipe on Old Tyme Fudge, and I followed it exactly (aside from one minor adjustment since I ran out of something.) I really like this site because the author writes very clear recipes, and has good tips for fudge newbs.

Before you get started:

Underbeaten fudge will never set, and overbeaten fudge will turn into a brick. The time window between those stages is razor-thin. Beating fudge to the proper consistency is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in the kitchen, and I’m still learning.

If your fudge doesn’t set, or gets bricked, don’t get discouraged! You can freeze underbeaten fudge to be used as a topping for ice cream, and bricked fudge can be re-melted.

Don’t go trying to double recipes or substitute ingredients until you know what you’re doing.

Fudge must be stirred, and then not stirred, at specific times. If you stir at the wrong stage you will get grainy lumpy fudge which is worse than having no fudge at all.

Hot sugar is napalm. Once it’s getting close to the right temperature you have to watch it like a hawk and get ready to pounce. Turn off the tv, turn off the phone, shun the world when you are making fudge.

Humidity will ruin your fudge, unless you compensate for that by increasing the cooking time and temperature, but that’s more at the expert-level. If it’s wet outside don’t even bother.

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Time required: 8.5 hours (about 1 hour of actual doing stuff)

Yields: about 30 pieces

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $25

Cost per piece: $0.83 (can you price perfection?)

Kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid mixer
  • 8″ square pan
  • tin foil
  • heavy-bottomed sauce pan
  • silicon spatula or sturdy wooden spoon
  • lots of extra spoons

Ingredients:

  • 4 C brown sugar (I used 3 C golden brown and 1 C dark brown)
  • 1½ C of 2% milk
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ C golden corn syrup
  • 3 TBSP butter, unsalted
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Line the square pan with foil and grease it. Also grease the entire inside of the sauce pan, all the way up the sides. Grease the flat beater of the mixer too.

2. Combine everything in the sauce pan except the vanilla.  Heat on Medium, stirring constantly.

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Ugh, yummy!

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3. Once mixture boils, reduce heat to Med-Low and STOP STIRRING. Insert candy thermometer.

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4. Once mixture reaches 238°F / 114°C, remove from heat. It takes a long time for the sugar to reach the correct heat, mine took about an hour. Hence the beer.

5. Just as it’s about to hit the right temperature, remove from stove and carefully place pot into cold water bath.  DO NOT STIR. Sugar will keep getting hotter and hotter if you let it sit there, so the cold water bath will immediately bring down the temperature and prevents the fudge from overcooking.

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6. Let it cool for about an hour, until temp falls to 120°F / 49°C. Once the mixture has cooled to this stage, there will be a skim on top, just ignore it. Transfer to mixing bowl and pour in the vanilla.

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Also don’t worry about the fat that rises to the surface.

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7. People tell you “beat until it loses the gloss” or “beat until it lightens”. That’s really hard to judge when you are new. Today’s fudge took 28 minutes of beating on speeds 1, 2, and 3. In the past I’ve had fudge turn into a brick under 9 minutes, so there is a learning curve here.

It was a dark molasses colour at first.

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After about 10 minutes it had lightened considerably but was still runny.

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Now 20 minutes in and I’m worried, why isn’t it firming up? What have I done wrong?

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About 25 minutes, still seems fairly glossy, and runny, but when I raise the beater the ropey strands are getting stiff.

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After 28 minutes I couldn’t take it anymore and stopped. I am not sure if it’s because a KitchenAid beats with such force, but it seemed like the beater was moving too easily through the fudge. When I would stop to scrape the bowl it was harder to do by hand so I figured it must be close to done.

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8. Pour into prepared pan and let sit at least 4 hours.  Hmmm, air bubbles. I don’t remember air bubbles in fudge before.

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9. Lift out of pan and score the top with a knife, then slice into squares.

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Real fudge is creamy, and sort of shears away from the knife. It also melts on your tongue, and tastes amazing. Like this!!

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Verdict:

“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. It set. Come look, it set!!”

Sigh. So good. Am so happy.

Playlist: Celldweller – Stay With Me (Unlikely)

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Penuche fudge round 5

Pictureless post is pictureless. There are two completed desserts from last week that won’t be featured on my blog because I forgot to take pictures. Oops.

Last week I wrote about my 4th batch of penuche which was successful, and my 5th batch which was setting. I forgot to take pictures of the 5th batch later that day, because I was too busy eating pieces since it turned out!! I was so excited, it was delicious, and more importantly; it set.

Stopping for photos was the last thing on my mind. It had that gorgeous penuche taste, such an intriguing flavour. It was not as firm as I would like, and I need to master the beating and pouring process, but I’m getting closer. ^^

I became fudge-fatigued and ran out of dark brown sugar, so a break was needed.

The other dessert I wanted to post but forgot was the apple crisp that Boyfriend made for Thanksgiving, which was delicious. I am going to push him to make another one soon and if he cooperates I’ll have something to post.

It’s possible I have the energy to bake something today. You’ll have to wait and see.

Adventures in fudge

Yes,  I know. You’re wondering if you have stumbled onto a baking blog, or a film review of the movie that even the clerks in the adult store don’t want to admit they keep in stock. My research into the mechanics of fudge continues, and I discovered that researching how to make fudge on the internet is dangerous; you run the risk of finding something that will require you to bleach your eyes.

ranted mentioned that I’ve been trying and trying to make penuche fudge. Today I’m working on attempt # 5. I am happy to report attempt # 4 had fudge-like qualities, it was partially set, although too soft, and the texture is wrong, but it tastes like penuche and that is enough to overcome any flaw. I am getting closer.

Tah-dah!

Although nearly impossible to cut, when I removed some and set the rest back into the pan, it didn’t flow out to take over the empty space so I consider this a success.

I also discovered that making traditional fudge is about as much fun as tempering chocolate. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

  • I studied the penuche recipes from Betters Homes & GardensOld Tyme Fudge, and All Recipes
  • I read volumes of fudge lore
  • I tried the BHG recipe twice, and the Old Tyme recipe three times
  • I know where I’m going wrong (beating the syrup into fudge)
  • After calibrating my thermometer I found it’s 3 degrees Celsius off
  • My fifth batch is in the pan, hopefully setting right now

The easy part is cooking the ingredients into a sugar slurry without scorching.  I am mindful to only stir before it’s boiling, and to remove from heat at the soft ball stage. I add the vanilla and butter and leave it alone without stirring until it cools.

When I beat the syrup into fudge, everything falls apart. Beating fudge by hand is about as pleasant as walking on broken glass. I found a few forums where people said they beat fudge successfully in a Kitchen Aid:

I have used my KA with the flat beater to beat fudge and it worked quite well. You do have to keep a close eye on it, and it is harder to see it clearly in the mixing bowl unless I stop beating and lower the bowl to check. I was surprised how long it took the first time I used my KA, I thought it would be faster, but it took almost as long as beating by hand.

With that in mind, I assumed it would not take longer than 10 minutes, but I wasn’t sure what speed to use. I thought using the first setting would be wise, the speed closest to doing it by hand. That didn’t work, the paddle grabbed the entire mass and shoved it around the bowl without mixing .I upped the speed to 2, which seemed to go better.

On attempt # 5, I beat it for 6 minutes on speed 2, scraping the sides every 120 seconds. After the six minute mark, I beat it for another 4 minutes on speed 3, scraping the sides every 60 seconds. Somewhere between minute 9 and 10 it went wrong again.

I think this is either just before the point I need, or just past it. It started tearing off the bottom of the bowl and felt dry. I beat in one tablespoon of cream, which helped make it fluid again, but after that it wouldn’t stiffen.

Everything I have read says that you beat the fudge until the gloss is gone, and it resembles buttercream instead of syrup. I can tell when it’s glossy, but it’s hard to judge when it’s not.

I know I’m on the right track.  I am waiting for attempt # 5 to set, will know in 2 hours how I did.

If you have any tips about beating old fashioned fudge, I would love to hear them.

Playlist: NAS – Got Myself a Gun

Sea salt penuche taffy

Apparently 3 is not the magic number, or this would be a picture of penuche fudge instead of penuche taffy.

Until this failed to set, I had high hopes that I had finally achieved penuche fudge, which as I mentioned yesterday, is a childhood dream of mine. Alas I did not achieve fudge, but I did achieve something, and it has the faint taste of penuche, like a dream gone past recall. I am so close!

I wonder if this is how my sister Chocoholic used to feel.  For years when she made fudge it never set, it just slowly slid to one end of the pan. We ate it anyway, and it was delicious, but there is something annoying and humbling about being unable to make fudge.

I followed the traditional penuche recipe from Old Tyme Fudge. I’m going to try it again today.

I read a lot of online candy recipes, and often find comments that say, “This recipe sucks, I followed it exactly and it didn’t work”.  That’s a pretty conceited way to look at it. If it doesn’t work, the problem must be the recipe? It can’t be your ingredients? Or your equipment? Or your lack of technique?

I used to do tech support, I’m okay with admitting the recipe is fine and the problem is the user. If you try 3 different recipes of the same thing and it doesn’t work, the only common denominator is you.

Notice how it’s still pretty glossy? I suspect that is the problem. It’s stretchy, and when you take a bite it retains a perfect imprint of your teeth, so I think the problem is that I didn’t beat it enough after it cooled. (I was conservative during beating because I didn’t want another rock-hard lump of penuche.)

And yet…

… it wasn’t a total loss. Look at that gorgeous colour!  It mostly held its shape. Boyfriend carefully sliced each piece for me. (Okay, I couldn’t slice this, I tried. After jumping up and down leaning on the knife and not getting anywhere, he rescued me.)

I tasted one, and it was good. I added a little sea salt and wow. Even though this isn’t the final result that I wanted, I liked this a lot, but I’m not sure I could make this again even if I tried.

I’ve read that beating fudge by hand takes around 10 minutes and I had no interest in making my arms sore, so I used my KitchenAid and beat it for 1 minute (20 seconds on Low, 40 seconds on Med-High.) It was so thick I stopped. If you are interested in recreating this penuche pseudo-taffy, instead of making actual fudge, follow the recipe above and under-beat. I have no idea if you’ll get the same results so good luck!

Cookies ‘n cream fudge

Creamy and smooth, and one of my personal favourites, I have not tasted cookies ‘n cream fudge in over a year. Imagine! I decided to make my own. But can you make fudge successfully when you can’t find one of the main ingredients?

Oh, I guess you can. I suppose that would be more of a cliff-hanger question if I didn’t follow up with the picture of the finished product. Oh fudge! (Hah!) This recipe comes from Nestlé’s Chocolate 3 Books In 1 which is on Amazon.com. Am really digging this book so far.

Good to know before you start:

The recipe calls for “marshmallow crème” and “Nestlé white morsels”, whatever that is. I couldn’t find it.

After unsuccessfully scoping both the baking aisle and the junk aisle at the store, I called my mother, who consulted her neighbour, and they determined marshmallow crème is marshmallow fluff, and I should find it with the pre-made chocolate sauces for ice cream. (Thanks Mom!)

I couldn’t find a 7 oz jar of fluff, but I did find a 7.5 oz jar, and I emptied the entire jar except for about two spoonfuls. Not sure how to measure ounces.

I used white chocolate baking squares instead of Nestlé morsels.

I used 12 double-stuffed Oreo cookies.

I did not use the jar of Oreo crumbs in the background.

Time required: 2 hrs

Yields: 48 pieces

Cost per piece: $1.60

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $30.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • food processor
  • baking pan 9″ x 9″
  • tinfoil

Ingredients:

  • 3 C granulated white sugar
  • ¾ C butter (1 and a half sticks)
  • ⅔ C evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces white chocolate (12 squares)
  • 7 oz marshmallow fluff
  •  ½ C finely pulsed Oreos (4 cookies)
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 1 C quartered Oreos, chop them loosely (8 cookies)

Instructions:

1. Line baking pan with foil, and set aside the following ingredients for later:

  • pulse four Oreos into fine crumbs using a food processor (use the entire cookie plus filling, not just the wafer)
  • chop eight Oreos into rough quarters using a sharp knife
  • use sharp knife to quarter each square of white chocolate

Double-stuffed cookies are messy to chop, but the pieces are not supposed to look even, so that was fine. Interesting fact: when you pulse Oreos the filling becomes invisible. Why? Who knows!

2. Combine in a large sauce pan on medium heat: sugar, butter, and evaporated milk. Heat to a rolling boil while stirring constantly. Continue to boil and stir for 3 min, then remove from heat.

See those dark flecks? That is burnt sugar from the bottom which happened because I don’t have a heavy-bottomed pan. :/

3. Immediately stir in: white chocolate, marshmallow fluff, vanilla, and crushed Oreos.

I waited until the white chocolate and fluff had been combined before adding the crumbs.

Ooh it’s starting to get exciting! Well, you might not agree, but I was pretty excited.

4. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Are you feeling proud because the surface is so smooth after you fussed endlessly over it? Waste of time, it’s going to become lumpy in the next step.

I actually don’t have a 9″ x 9″ pan, this is 8″ x 8″ so it will be a bit higher than it should be.

5. Sprinkle the chopped Oreos on the top, and use a butter knife to lightly swirl the cookie pieces into the fudge. You are not trying to hide the pieces entirely, just poke them down a bit, parts should stick up.

6. Chill at least 1 hour before slicing.  See how parts stick out? Neat-o.

Sorry about the lighting here, it’s dark out now.

Verdict: Creamy! Stupendous!

After I took the final picture I approached Boyfriend.

“It’s done! Want a piece? I cut them big for the photo shoot, we could split a piece.”

“Geez! How about we have dinner first? That’s huge. I’ve never turned down fudge before but…  that’s huge!!”

Humph.

Won’t try my fudge, will you??

That just won’t do.

I took the pieces back into the kitchen and carved them smaller, then we sampled, and both agreed they were delicious. Making Oreo fudge was a lot easier than I anticipated and it turned out perfectly.

Next time I might skip the double-stuffed and just use regular Oreos.

What is your favourite type of fudge?

Playlist: screaming Brazilian fans (Boyfriend is watching UFC, ugh)

Candied bacon

Are you trying to win an argument, or earn forgiveness? Perhaps somebody in your life had a bad day? Do you ever just look at a situation and think, “I wish people would just smile.”?  I have two suggestions for you.

Make candied bacon. All sorrows will be forgotten.

Make chocolate-covered bacon. You will be elevated from mere mortal to goddess.

Tonight I made brown sugar candied bacon, maple syrup candied bacon, and chocolate-covered bacon. I did this heinous thing because Boyfriend had a bad morning, and I wanted to put a smile on his face. Oh, did I ever!

Before I got to work on this, I consulted my bacon guru M, who introduced me to Epic Meal Time, and loves all thing bacon. (Actually M coached me through cooking my first tray of bacon.) After listening to his sage advice on the questionable art of candying bacon, I got started.

Time required: 1 hr

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $18.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • large cookie tray
  • tin foil
  • cooling rack
  • basting brush

Ingredients:

  • package of bacon
  • 2 TBSP maple syrup
  • 4-6 TBSP dark brown sugar
  • 1 square semi-sweet chocolate

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 177°C / 350°F. Line the baking sheet with tin foil, and place the cooling rack on top of the sheet.

2. Place the bacon onto the rack and don’t let the pieces touch.  Pictured above the tray are dishes of brown sugar, chocolate, and pure Nova Scotia maple syrup.

3. I used a large spoon to sprinkle sugar onto the first two strips, and pressed down with the spoon to get it flat.  The middle strip is plain, because it’s getting coated in chocolate later.  The two strips on the right have been basted on both sides with maple syrup, although you can’t tell.

4. I baked it in 6 stages:

  • 8 minutes, flip and reapply sugar and syrup
  • 8 minutes, flip and reapply
  • 5 minutes, flip and reapply
  • 5 minutes, just flip
  • 5 minutes, just flip
  • 5 minutes, just flip
  • after 36 minutes you’re done, remove from oven
  • blot both sides of the plain pieces (but not the others), and let all the pieces sit to cool

If you were thinking of skipping using tinfoil, don’t. By this point the caramelized sugar started smoking. I wasn’t positive that it had cooked long enough but after letting it sit for a few minutes it felt very crisp.

5. Once the bacon has cooled, melt the chocolate and use a spoon to coat one side of the plain strip. Let it sit for  awhile before picking it up by the edges to flip, and coat the other side. I re-heated the chocolate so it would be easy to work with.

My plan was to use milk chocolate, but it seized. Boyfriend requested bittersweet chocolate but we are out, so he got semi-sweet instead.

6. After coating the second side, let it firm up. Once it’s as hardened it’s ready.  I let it sit around 30 minutes so it was still a bit soft. If you want more of a candy bar feeling I imagine you’ll need to let it sit a lot longer.

Verdict: I made this for Boyfriend because his morning got off to a bad start and he was in a foul mood for most of the day – until he walked in the door. Once he saw what I was making, I had to beat him off with a spoon.

First we tasted the brown sugar pieces. Boyfriend said, “Hmm. It’s good… it’s pleasant…it’s nice. Not too crunchy, but not chewy. I don’t know if I can describe it.”

Next we tried the maple syrup pieces, which tasted just like regular bacon, albeit more maple flavoured.

We finished with the chocolate, which I thought was vile, but as soon as he took a bite, Boyfriend said, “Oh yeah! Oh yum! We have a winner!”

Once his raging taste buds calmed down, Boyfriend said , “I really liked the brown sugar but – actually no, I’m going to say the chocolate is my favourite.”

I thought the chocolate-covered bacon had a strange texture, and a smokey after taste, which was not present in the other pieces. Not being a bacon fan, I did find the brown sugar pieces tolerable, and kind of interesting to eat.

Playlist: Bambi – Little April Showers

Chocolate caramels

Last night I ventured into bold new territory: the art of candy making.  Chocolate caramels dusted with coarse sea salt are probably not the best breakfast, but this is from the girl who used to eat brown sugar for breakfast so really, what did you expect?

I adapted this recipe from Nestlé’s Chocolate 3 Books In 1 which is on Amazon.com. My last few attempts to make caramel failed miserably, so let’s see how this goes.

Good to know before you start: Caramel can be a dangerous item to make. You must heat sugar to a very high temperature and hot sugar is like napalm, it will burn you terribly.

Before you begin, fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes, and in the event of a burn, immediately submerge the injured arm into the cold water.

Minimize the risk of burns by wearing a heavy long-sleeved shirt, use long oven mitts, and do not put your face near the pot. Be aware that caramel will bubble up like lava once liquid is added, use a deep pot and a long-handled spoon to stir. Stir slowly, avoid splashing.

You need at least 45 minutes in the kitchen uninterrupted.  You cannot walk away from the stove, so pre-measure your ingredients and only start caramel when you have the time to do it, don’t try to rush it or you’ll be sorry.

The original recipe uses two packets (each 1 oz) of Nestlé Toll House CHOCO BAKE pre-melted unsweetened chocolate flavour. I have no idea what that is, and I substituted with cocoa powder and two extra tablespoons of butter.  If using the Choco Bake stuff you only need 1 C of butter.

Time required: 1 hr, plus over night to set

Yields: about 28 pieces

Cost per piece: $1.21

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $34.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • candy thermometer
  • baking pan 8″ x 8″ and one larger one
  • tin foil
  • plastic wrap
  • mini muffin cups
  • ice cubes

Ingredients:

  • 18 TBSP unsalted butter (2 sticks + 2 TBSP), melted
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 1 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C corn syrup
  • 414 mL sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 TBSP cocoa
  • 1 TSP pure vanilla extract
  • coarse sea salt

Instructions:

1. Line baking pan with foil and grease.

2. Measure out condensed milk and cocoa, set aside.

3. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add: butter, white and brown sugars, and corn syrup. Cook over Medium heat, stirring constantly.

Mix it all up…

4. Once mixture is boiling, add cocoa powder and condensed milk. Reduce heat to Medium-Low and stir often (almost constantly).

The goal is to obtain a temperature of 118°C / 245°F which should take at least half an hour. Once it’s been bubbling that long, check with a candy thermometer, which is soft ball stage.

Stirring in the cocoa took awhile, it kept floating up and not blending. After 5 min or so it started to look like this:

5. As soon as you reach correct temperature, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

6. Immediately pour into prepared pan, be very careful not to splash yourself.

(In the back is my candy thermometer sitting on the big spoon thing.)

Place dish into cold water bath, this will lower the temperature so the caramel does not keep cooking into the hard ball stage.

7. After the water is no longer cold, remove from water and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it on the counter overnight to set.

It’s easier to handle if you use plastic wrap instead of your bare hands. Cut with a sharp knife.

8. Set into muffin cups, and sprinkle with salt.

Verdict: These were good. Eventually I want to progress to making real caramel without corn syrup but this is a good start. The last few times I’ve attempted real caramel with just sugar and cream and vanilla it was a disaster but this turned out very well.

I tried one without salt, way too sweet though.

Playlist: Jem & the Holograms soundtrack