shop in Petoskey that was laden with tons of cooking stuff - evidently the trophy wives like to cook, or at least buy kitchen accoutrement, so we wandered in. I looked for the kitchen gadget I have been coveting lately - the Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker. Yes, I know that the Flavour Shaker looks very suggestive - like some kind of device you might find advertised in the classifieds in back of Cosmo, and yes I know that Jamie is very good looking, but please keep your mind out of the gutter and focus! I have tried out the shaker and it is a great device to mince garlic - far better and easier to use than a garlic press. I figured the trophy wives probably would want to buy one because Jamie is so dreamy, but alas, evidently they did not. No shaker to be found, I moved on to the fudge shop next door.
Evidently, the trophy wives also like fudge, because there are many fudge shops in Harbor Springs and Petoskey. The fudge costs $17/lb, and even I have been known to buy a half pound of fudge on occasion from Kilwins, my favorite fudge purveyor. I held off buying any last weekend, because we were skiing with our crew of teenagers and they would have easily eaten a pound of fudge in 5 minutes, but it got me thinking I should make fudge at home. When I was a kid, my mom always made the "Marshmallow Fluff" kind that is super easy, but I wanted to make the real deal. I had read that fudge was the invention of sorority girls at Vassar in the 1880s....in fact, all of the women's colleges developed their own recipes for it. When I was in a sorority girl in the 1980s, we often made no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies as a cure for PMS....so maybe that's what the Vassar, Smith and Wellesley gals were doing in the 1880s. And maybe that's why fudge shops are doing so well in Harbor Springs - even trophy wives get PMS.
So I set out to make my own....I followed the recipe in my trusty red plaid BH and G cookbook for old fashioned fudge. The recipe is lower in fat and calories than the sorority girls' ones because it uses whole milk instead of heavy cream. In fact, one serving (which would supposedly be 1/32nd of the batch, but who could only eat one serving?) of this recipe would be 1 Weight Watchers point, where as the Vassar recipe is closer to 2 points. Calories be damned, however, when we are talking about PMS cures. The trophy wives will be sure to work off the calories at the gym before they go out for a salad lunch. The rest of us should just eat it with wild abandon, as I am sure the Vassar girls did back in the day. Plus, making fudge at home costs about $2 per lb. vs. the $17 per lb. at Kilwins! A candy thermometer is key for this recipe - if you don't have one, now is the time to get one. (if you should find yourself in Petoskey, Cutlers does have plenty of them).
Old Time Fudge
Makes about 1 lb
(my take on the BH and G recipe)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
Half bar of Ghirardelli 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate
1 T. light corn syrup
2 T. butter
1 t. vanilla
Line a loaf pan with foil and butter the foil. Butter the sides of a large saucepan - it helps keep the fudge from crystallizing on the edges which makes for gritty fudge. Combine milk, sugar, chocolate and corn syrup (another trick to help prevent crystallization is adding corn syrup). Cook and stir over medium high heat to boiling. Insert the candy thermometer and cook and stir using a wooden spoon over medium low heat until it reaches 234 F - it will take about 20 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, remove the wooden spoon, and add the butter and vanilla. DON'T STIR IT IN. Stirring might start crystals forming. Cool, without stirring, until the temperature is 110 F. This will take almost an hour or so.
Remove the thermometer and using the wooden spoon, beat the fudge until it begins to thicken. At this point, a 1/2 cup nuts could be added. I think roasted black walnuts would be heavenly. Or marshmallows, like the Wellesley girls. Continue beating until the fudge gets very thick and loses it's gloss....about 10 minutes. Spread the fudge in the foil lined pan while it is still warm. Allow to cool and eat.