Of all holiday confections, nothing says Christmas more to me than homemade fudge. The tree is trimmed, the stockings are hung, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney are crooning their way through White Christmas (best Christmas movie EVER) but somehow it doesn’t feel quite right until my kitchen smells of chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. This dark chocolate fudge with coconut sugar will make you swoon with chocolate happiness, and it comes together in less than 30 minutes. AND it makes a great gift. Nothing says I love you, I appreciate you, Merry Christmas better than homemade chocolate goodies!
My mom made homemade fudge every Christmas growing up, and my sister and I looked forward to it almost as much as the presents. So, as an adult, making fudge for my family gives me a sweet sense of continuity from my childhood, not to mention a pretty decadent treat. For awhile, I couldn’t put my finger on why my fudge didn’t taste exactly like Mom’s. The recipe wasn’t complicated- basically the one on the back of the Marshmallow Creme jar. Mine was good, just not swoon-worthy. I figured it was because, you know, it was Mom’s. Until I remembered she never used anything but authentic Mexican vanilla. And I was using that yucky imitation stuff. (I was young and dumb- forgive me).
I now hand carry my vanilla home from our Caribbean vacations. The same way my grandparents used to bring back a giant bottle for my mom every year. I have vivid memories of that bottle. As a small child, it seemed huge- probably the size of a wine bottle. Dark brown glass with a cork stopper, a faded, peeling paper label covered in words of an unfamiliar language. And the smell…..It lived on the floor of our pantry and my sister and I would just sit there quietly and sniff the bottle- heaven. And yes, we eventually tasted it. Such a disappointment. But that began my love affair with Mexican vanilla. If no one has hand carried you back a bottle of the good stuff, Amazon has a good option here that does not require a passport.
As much as I love Mom’s swoon-worthy fudge, I decided to play around with it this year. I like sweets, but not the “it’s so sweet, my hair is standing on end” sweet. And as I get older, huge hits of sugar honestly don’t make me feel so hot. If you believe the hype (and I haven’t yet found a credible scientific study, so I’m skeptical) BUT, Coconut Sugar supposedly has half the glycemic index of white sugar- meaning you get less of a sugar crash later. It also has a milder, sort of slight caramel flavor. For this recipe, I swapped the white sugar and semi-sweet baking chocolate for coconut sugar and dark Ghiradelli chocolate. The dark chocolate also has slightly less sugar than semi-sweet. Don’t kid yourself- we are by no means making healthy fudge-(is that an oxymoron)? This is still a pretty decadent treat. Oh, and I also upped the vanilla, just a smidge, just because.
p.s.- If super sweet is your thing, or you want to make a more classic version- just swap the coconut sugar for white sugar and the dark chocolate for semi-sweet. Amounts and directions are the same.
- Before you turn on the stove, get everything ready to go. Measure out your vanilla and the pecans, open the can of marshmallow cream and line your pan with foil. Once you take your mixture off the heat, it will start to cool quickly. The faster you can get everything into the pan, the easier it will be to stir and get all this yumminess to come together.
- Lazy candy maker’s hack- I have made this using Ghirahelli dark chocolate chips rather than the baking bars to save myself the chopping. Feel free to do this IF you have a food scale to measure out exactly 12oz. Too little and your fudge will never set. If you don’t have a scale- play it safe and use the baking bars.
- If you do not own a candy thermometer, you can do what my mom told me when I called for advice the first time I ever made fudge on my own. Once your mixture has come to a boil and you have stirred for the 4 minutes, spoon a little bit into a waiting bowl of ice water. If it immediately comes together, it’s ready to take off the heat and add the remaining ingredients.
- It is going to take awhile for your mixture to come to a boil over medium heat (probably 8-10 minutes) Do not walk away from it- you have to stand there and stir the ENTIRE time. I repeat- do not walk away. It will scorch.
- Use a large square tipped wooden spoon if you have one. Wood because plastic will melt (duh), and square to get into the edges of your pan so it won’t scorch- also covers more surface area on the bottom of the pan to keep the mixture moving to prevent scorch. Round works, but square is easier.
So here is my take on my mama’s swoon worthy fudge. Dark chocolate fudge with coconut sugar. Luxurious, creamy, dark chocolate goodness. The bulk of this batch is destined for Alan’s office staff and as a small gift for our builder. But a few pieces are about to join me for a cup of coffee and a viewing of White Christmas.