Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays - A Gift For You: Alton Brown's Fudge Recipe...

For the holidays I am giving you fudge!

Below is a fudge recipe from Alton Brown, cook and cooking science guru of the show, "Good Eats" over on the Food Network. I printed the recipe from their website last year and was not very happy with how the fudge turned out (admittedly, that could be due to cook error).

Today, I watched Alton's fudge episode and took notes. The recipe and directions on the site are very different than his directions on the show. These are Alton's directions as noted by me (all errors are mine)...

Alton Brown's Fudge

Food Network Difficulty: Medium
Yield: 64 one inch squares
Temperatures: Fahrenheit

Warning: cooking any candy is dangerous as sugar is heated to the point of liquefying. If it gets onto your skin (e.g. boil splatter, falling onto you, touching it accidentally, etc.) the liquid sugar will potentially severely burn you or others. Use caution while making this. Keep a close eye on the mixture during the entire process. Do not leave it unattended. Keep children and pets away from it. Use extreme caution while making this.

The whole key with making good fudge is the texture which is about the crystals you create in your fudge. 234 – 240 degrees is the softball candy stage and this is the perfect stage to make fudge. Professional fudge makers get the fudge to 236 degrees before cutting heat and leaving it to cool.

Utensils:
heavy bottomed 2 quart sauce pan [Note: I just made this fudge yesterday morning and if you use an aluminum sauce pan the fudge cools too fast when you're stirring fast, at the end of the process. Use a stainless steel sauce pan!]
wooden spoon (must be wooden so that it does not conduct heat and burn you)
digital candy thermometer (others are not as easy to read or use)
rubber or plastic spatula
8x8 inch glass dish
parchment paper cut to three inches larger on all sides than the 8x8 glass dish

Ingredients:
2 ¾ cup regular white table sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus extra to grease 8x8 dish and spatula)
1 cup half and half
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

If desired:
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped roasted nuts (must be roasted)

Directions:
1. Grease the 8x8 inch glass dish and the spatula with unsalted butter. Tear a piece of parchment paper that is 3 inches larger than the glass dish on all four sides. Place the glass dish in the center of the piece of parchment paper and cut the paper, from each of the four corners of the dish, to the tip of the paper’s corners. After all four corners of the paper are scored, fit the parchment paper into the greased dish snugly.

2. If it is humid (raining out) when you make the fudge, cook the fudge to a higher than normal softball candy stage. Cook it to above 234 degrees (as directed, below). It will finish with a grainy texture but the fudge will then soften within a day or two.

3. In the heavy bottom saucepan, combine the sugar, chocolate, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, half and half, and light corn syrup.

4. Over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved and the chocolate is melted.

5. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.

6. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low medium and cover (so that the condensation, inside, rolls the sugar that accumulated on the sides down into the mixture) for three minutes. The mixture will simmer inside the covered saucepan.

7. After three minutes remove the lid and attach the digital candy thermometer into the mix and onto the pan. Set the digital candy thermometer to go off when the mixture reaches the softball candy stage (234 degrees). Cook the mixture until it reaches 234 degrees. You can cut the heat when the thermometer reaches 232 degrees and leave the pan on the turned off burner. It will coast to 234 degrees on its own.

8. At 234 degrees (or 232), turn the heat off and do not touch the pan or its contents. Do not bump, move, stir, or shake the pan. If you do, a seed crystal could form and this would crystallize your fudge and make it grainy. Let the fudge cool to 110 degrees.

9. After it cools, add one tablespoon unsalted butter to the top of the fudge (do not stir, let it melt into the top of the fudge) to keep it from drying out and stir it like crazy (fast). As you’re quickly stirring the fudge, watch for the fudge to turn from shiny to a matte (dull) finish.

10. When it goes dull, slow your stirring and test the fudge by lifting the spoon a bit in the bowl and watching the fudge fall off of it. If it falls thick (slow and thick fall), then now is the time to add the roasted nuts and vanilla if you are adding these. If you do want to add roasted nuts and vanilla, do so now. These will rapidly cool the fudge, so quickly get the fudge into the greased and parchment paper lined 8x8in dish after adding vanilla and roasted nuts.

11. Pour the fudge into the greased and parchment paper lined dish (roasted nuts and vanilla added or not). Smooth the top of the poured fudge in the dish, down with the greased spatula.

12. Let the dish of fudge sit in a cool dry place and cool down for at least 2 hours before cutting or eating it. Do not put it into the fridge to cool the fudge because it is too wet in your fridge for this kind of fudge.

13. Cut the fudge into 1 inch pieces and store it in an airtight container for up to a week.

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