Sunday, December 6, 2015

Fudge, Fudge, And More Fudge

If you know me, you know that I have a holiday tradition of struggling with making fudge.

So many of my friends and family know about my struggle that right around Thanksgiving every year it starts becoming a topic of conversation. People will casually bring it up, giving me the side-eye to see if I will fly into a violent rage, or they might just come right out with it. My Uncle Mike, for example, gave me a piece (OK, I ate like five pieces) of fudge at Thanksgiving this year, and then handed me a printed out recipe. My friend Sharon presented me with the Carnation Famous Fudge Kit, a source of self-esteem damage, wailing, and gnashing of teeth in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 (but not 2014, when I decided to try to follow a pair of fudge recipes instead), for my birthday this year, but my mom went ahead and made the fudge from it because I was afraid to bring it on an airplane after the TSA went into my checked suitcase and confiscated my shaving cream on my flight to New York.

As has happened often in past years, my mom casually followed the directions while feeding dogs, loading the dishwasher, and talking on the phone and still somehow produced delicious fudge just like on the box while explaining that it's so easy.

Lots of people tell me that fudge is easy.

So many people tell me this that I sometimes think, "I bet this is how Carrie felt at the prom," as I watch their stupid mouths move, but we're getting off topic. Back to the point, everyone I know can make fudge and I seem to have some sort of fudge problem.

I decided this year to make three kinds of fudge: the Famous Fudge Kit, the recipe that my Uncle Mike gave me, and Kraft's allegedly award-winning Velveeta Fudge recipe. Yes, that's right: I made fudge out of something that might be cheese. I am so desperate at this point to make creamy, delicious fudge that if someone told me the secret was clubbing baby seals to death while sobbing children watched, I would be online comparing prices on wooden clubs and plane tickets to rocky Canadian beaches by the end of the day. Compared to that, melting some fake half-cheese product barely registers on my mental radar.

Before I started, I decided to get myself in the mood by decorating the kitchen. In the same way that some cultures have a kitchen deity and a small shrine, I decided that I would summon the spirit of Christmas, and hung my most powerful Christmas talisman above the stove:

Christmas merman ornament

My homosexual sexy Christmas merman ornament. God bless us, every one, and God bless the fudge.

I started with Uncle Mike's Pumpkin Spice Fudge, which starts with four cups of white chocolate chips:

Pumpkin spice fudge (2)

and some peanut butter:

Pumpkin spice fudge (3)

I think white chocolate is a vile shadow of real chocolate, but again, baby seals. I will try anything at this point. I microwaved the chips and peanut butter in short bursts, stirring often, and when it was fully blended:

Pumpkin spice fudge (4)

I added the vanilla, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The recipe called for two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, but I couldn't find that at the grocery store (I probably missed it by about two weeks) so I used one teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg. It looked a little browner than Uncle Mike's did, but I poured it into the dish:

Pumpkin spice fudge (1)

put it in the refrigerator, and hoped for the best.

Then I moved on to the Velveeta Fudge, which starts with a lot of butter, light corn syrup, and some baker's chocolate:

Velveeta fudge (1)

And then the Velveeta comes in:

Velveeta fudge (3)

So much Velveeta. That gigantic brick of Velveeta was the smallest size block they had at Kroger, and now I have half a block of Velveeta in my refrigerator and no idea what to do with it because I usually only eat real cheese. Somewhere in my slow cooker book there are soup recipes that call for Velveeta, so maybe I can get rid of this that way. Anyway, I added the Velveeta:

Velveeta fudge (5)

and threw it in the microwave. I took it out halfway through cooking to stir, and immediately had grave reservations:

Velveeta fudge (2)

"What's the secret ingredient in your fudge?"

"The bile I accidentally threw up while leaning over a steaming bowl of fake cheese and chocolate bars."

I didn't really throw up, but that doesn't look anything like food that you would want to put in your mouth. Even scarier, this is a two bowl recipe. The other bowl, patiently waiting for the first one to finish in the microwave, contains 32 ounces of powdered sugar:

Velveeta fudge (6)

This must be what a Christmas buffet at Pablo Escobar's house looked like.

Once the first bowl seemed fully melted and blended, I poured it into the second bowl and started mixing. When I decided I was done, it looked a lot like fudge should look:

Velveeta fudge (4)

so I poured it into a baking dish and slid it into the refrigerator.

And then I came to the third fudge recipe:

Famous Fudge Kit fudge (1)

It wouldn't be Christmas without it.

I was slightly tired of fudge making at this point, and also thought about the way my mom approaches this kit, and decided to just do it, not think about it, and let the chocolate chips fall where they may. I assembled the parts:

Famous Fudge Kit fudge (3)

heated and stirred until the marshmallows melted, and poured it into the baking dish:

Famous Fudge Kit fudge (2)

where it came out looking exactly like it has every other year.

I hate you, Carnation Famous Fudge Kit.

I hate you.

Hours later, the fudge was allegedly ready:

Finished fudge

From left to right:

Uncle Mike's Pumpkin Spice Fudge: Delicious. Not too much pumpkin, not too much spice. The texture is nice, you can't taste the peanut butter at all, and it's a nice, tasty little bite. Or two. Or five. Shut up.

Kraft Velveeta Fudge: It's not bad. It's a little soft, and a little over sweet. I won't be making it again, but it may appeal to people who like their fudge a little sweeter than most chocolate fudge.

Carnation Famous Fudge Kit: The key, apparently, is to stop caring. It's firm, chocolatey, and not bad. This is the best that kit has ever come out for me.

The baby seals are safe, for now, and the office gets to snack their way through a ton of fudge this week.


Sarah C said...

It's a Christmas miracle! :-)

Justin Bower said...

I told my wife I wanted to tune in for a time-honored seasonal story. She thought I meant the Christmas Story, or the Charlie Brown Christmas, or something. I mean the fudge chronicles.

As much as I am not a huge Velveeta fan, a friend of mine routines dumps it and a jar of salsa and some hot peppers into a bowl, maybe some chorizo too, melts it, and the cheese dip is outstanding. As long as you don't think too much abut it.

Mrs. Splapthing said...

OMG - the Christmas Fudge Story!! I, too, am a huge fan - so Justin Bower, you are not alone.

It's so weird that you mention fudge today... because yesterday I went to work, stopped in at the break room to fill my travel mug with ice water, and there was a plate full of fudge! I had a piece. Or two. Or five. Shut up. I felt slightly less guilty because all I'd had to eat all day was a banana, and since my husband is diabetic we never have any sugar or sugary snacks in the house, so I haven't had fudge in AGES... but I definitely thought of you as I scarfed it down. Later, when I was suffering from a sugar headache, I thought of Tylenol.

The pumpkin fudge actually sounds pretty delicious! The cheese-ish fudge, not so much. Amazing how the Carnation fudge kit forgot to mention the main ingredient: INSOUCIANCE!

Thanks for bringing us our yearly holiday treat. You've got a damn lot of fudge to pack away now! That didn't come out exactly right... but gay merman ornament knows what I meant. *MWAH!*