It isn't difficult--no candy thermometer involved--but took me a few tries to get just right. The original recipe is here, but I go by the rewritten version in my little cookbook. I need to update my little cookbook a little bit, though, because I've learned more since adding Grandma's recipe to it.
I knew I really had it down when I arrived home for my younger brother's wedding in July of 2011 and was greeted by my mom with a bemused "Brian's asked you to make some of Grandma's fudge for the reception." That turned into another humid summer day of fudge-making, but by then, I knew enough fudge secrets to be successful. I use butter not margarine. Butter. As soon as the 1.5-sticks-of-butter/3-cups-of-sugar/exactly-2/3-cups-evaporated milk mixture begins to boil, set your timer for five minutes and stir it all five minutes while it bubbles and makes your kitchen smell like Grandma's. Five minutes. All five minutes. Have your ingredients open and your 13" x 9" pan greased/prepared ahead of time. And begin washing your Fudge-Cooking Pot immediately after you're done with it.
One of the things I wish I'd thought to save from Papa and Grandma's house was the deep saucepan Grandma used for this recipe. This pot's another one of theirs, but I wish I'd had the foresight to take the other one too. Dad made me the sturdy wooden spoon below. It's extra-tall and perfect for stirring thick fudge with its big billy club handle.
Not realizing when to begin the five-minute countdown for the boiling stage was my mistake with my first however-many batches of this fudge. Set your timer when you first see bubbles at least as big as the ones below. Stir constantly, and I mean it. The sugar can get scorched if you don't, and the more you stir, the smoother the fudge will be. Gritty fudge still tastes good but doesn't do Grandma proud. Off-subject, Aunt Laurie sent me that sweet pot holder last Christmas, and I treasure it. Grandma's recipe and pot, Dad's handmade spoon, and Aunt Laurie's pot holder. This fudge recipe was brought to you by love, thank you. ♥
And you will need to feel the love after you add the bag of chocolate chips, and then, most especially, after you add the marsmallow cream, because the fudge will already have the consistency of fudge at this point and will be hard to stir. I use the smaller (7 oz.) jar of marshmallow cream, but the fudge turns out with the large jar too. It's just a bit softer in both color and consistency when the extra's added.
That my grandmother, even in her early nineties, made this fudge for us as often as she did--and voluntarily, and without complaint--is a testament to her love for us, truly, because the incorporating-chocolate-and-marshmallow stage makes the arms ache. I marvel at her strength every time I cook this. ♥
Quickly pour it into the pan, begin washing the pot, and let the fudge cool. I've just opened the kitchen window and let the pan chill on the stove-top under it the past few times I've made it. By the time I've finished all the boiling and stirring and am starting dishes and kitchen clean-up, a wide-open window feels like heaven anyway.
Target had the little treat boxes in the top picture in their dollar section, so I picked up two and packaged some fudge in them to add to my brothers' Christmas presents. Walnuts omitted for Brian. Christmas sprinkles added to the top of the entire batch, although I'm sure Grandma would shake her head at this newfangled addition to her recipe and murmur, "Well, I suppose that's okay. . . ." :) Best Fudge Ever. ♥ Love to you all this Christmas. December's been a blur this year. I see my family--and meet Bianca--Tuesday! Life is sweet.