I really hope you made last week’s Holiday Detox Soup, because this week we’re going in a very different direction: Sandy’s Christmas Fudge. A recipe that make five (yes, five!) pounds of fudge. Hitch up your pants and get ready.
Sandy was my mom. During my childhood, she made this recipe every Christmas, along with her famous English toffee. In the 1960’s and 70’s, she made it annually for her grandfather, who never wanted any other gift. He saved it to share with his retirement-community buddies at their weekly domino game. Us kids looked forward to it every year, sneaking squares out of her wax paper-lined holiday tins when she wasn’t looking and licking our melted-chocolate fingertips to hide the evidence.
This ain’t a fancy recipe, guys. Chocolate chips, marshmallows (the classic, old-school kind – do not be tempted to use organic or other alternatives), evaporated milk, butter, and sugar. A little vanilla and a smidge of salt. You can add pecans, too, if you like nuts in your fudge. I must warn you that this recipe does require some serious strength to mix the scalding-hot candy syrup with the chocolate and marshmallows. As it cools, the mixture gets reaaaal thick, reaaal fast. If you have noodle arms, maybe call in your best friend who’s been going to Body Pump three times a week to help with that part.
My mom’s recipe directions are kind of hilarious. She measures the marshmallows by the piece (16 large or 160 miniature – count ’em!), and, shunning classic candy-making temperature rules, she instructs us to bring the syrup to “a roaring boil and cook for EXACTLY five minutes.” Although the timed approach may have worked perfectly at sea level in California, I’ve done a little testing to ensure the right consistency at 9,600 feet (it’s actually a little over five minutes). No matter where you are, I recommend using a candy thermometer to make sure you get to the proper “soft ball” stage – your safeguard against sad, floppy fudge (see notes below on the right temperature for your altitude).
Sandy’s Christmas Fudge has that glorious, velvety, melty quality in your mouth, yet holds it shape perfectly at room temperature, making it the perfect holiday treat to casually drop off to friends or neighbors (what, this? oh yeah, I made it. NBD). My mom used to put a dozen or so squares each in little cellophane bags and tie them with pretty green and red ribbons.
Because I’m nostalgic about this recipe and fear my great-grandfather would not approve of any alterations, I keep it simple and pure. That said, I think it would be just dandy with a little flaky Maldon sea salt sprinkled on top, or maybe some crushed peppermint. Fancy it up any way you like!
If you end up with leftovers (not likely in my house), you can melt a square or two with a little half and half and pour it all over some good vanilla or peppermint ice cream. Happy holidays! Please to enjoy.
(And here’s that Detox Soup recipe again, because … you know. Just keep it handy.)Print
Sandy’s Christmas Fudge
A classic, decadent fudge recipe, handed down for generations.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 25 mins (not including cooling)
- Yield: 5 lbs
- Category: sweets
1 3/4 cups (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 1/4 cups (16 oz) milk chocolate chips
4 cups (10 oz) miniature marshmallows (such as Jet-Puff; do not use organic or alternative versions)
1 TB vanilla extract (not imitation)
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
3 cups (24 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (4 TB) salted butter
pinch of salt
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Prepare a 9 x 13 pan: butter the bottom and sides, then line the bottom with parchment or wax paper, leaving a 4-inch overhang on the ends (so you can lift it out later). Butter the parchment as well.
In a medium bowl, combine chocolate chips, marshmallows, vanilla, and pecans, if using. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine evaporated milk, sugar, salt, and butter over medium heat. Stir until sugar and butter are melted, then bring mixture to a boil and cook undisturbed until temperature reaches 218° – 220° on a candy thermometer.*
Remove syrup from heat and pour into chocolate/marshmallow mixture. Working quickly (it thickens as it cools!), combine syrup and chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until all ingredients are melted and mixture is glossy and very, very thick. Enjoy thinking about all the calories you’re burning with this major arm workout. Turn into prepared pan, smooth top to even out, and set aside to cool completely at room temperature (at least two hours).
When fudge is cool, run a knife along the inside edges of the pan to release any sticking and lift out parchment onto a flat surface (or, alternatively, flip the pan onto a cutting board and peel off parchment). Cut fudge into 1-inch squares.
Store in airtight containers (with parchment or wax paper in between layers of fudge) at room temperature.
*At 9,600 feet, the correct temperature for soft-ball candy syrup is just under 220°. At sea level, it’s 237° (if you’re somewhere in between, for every 500 feet above sea level, subtract one degree from 237°).
… If you’re on a schedule, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time. The fudge doesn’t take long to make, but it takes at least two hours to cool. Don’t be tempted to speed up the process in the fridge; the fudge will be at risk of becoming dry and crumbly (especially at high altitude).