By Linda Schulte, Coon Valley Candy Company —
When the folks at L.I.N.K. Magazine approached me to share some facts about fudge, I was seriously concerned! Was there enough to say about my favorite confection to fill up an entire magazine article?
Many of you know the story of why I started making fudge. I so wanted to join my friends and neighbors in Coon Valley as a vendor at our local vintage market. However, I am not gifted in the crafting department, so my always-supportive husband suggested I make some fudge. The rest, as they say, is history, and I have been busy making fudge ever since!
My personal story of fudge-making goes back to my Grandma Rose, who brought us her homemade candy wrapped in aluminum foil every Christmas. It was always chocolate with walnuts, and we always devoured it on the spot.
When I started experimenting with my own recipes, I knew I needed to find a book dedicated to fudge, so I ended up purchasing “Oh Fudge” by Lee Edwards Benning. Published in 1990, it is filled with great recipes as well as many pages of research about everyone’s favorite confection: fudge!
I was delighted to discover that fudge is a purely American concoction. A comparative newcomer to the candy scene, it has been around just a little over a century. We don’t know for sure who first made it, but every source seems to agree that fudge came about as the result of a botched batch of some other kind of candy. Maybe that’s when the expression “Oh Fudge!” was born.
One account states that the first fudge was made in 1886 and sold in a grocery store in Baltimore for 40 cents per pound. A young lady secured the recipe, made some and sold it at the Senior Auction during her first year at Vassar. It seems that Vassar girls continued making fudge in their dormitory kitchenettes up until 1940.
So, why is fudge, and chocolate in general, such a popular gift for Valentine’s Day?
In 1861, Richard Cadbury created the first heart-shaped box and thus began the link between the sweet treat and the holiday celebrating love. Statistics show that women buy most of the chocolate (75 percent) throughout the year, but men buy about 75 percent of the chocolate purchased on Feb. 14. I can certainly attest to that based on the number of shoppers who stopped by the store last year on Valentine’s Day! It was such fun waiting on customers (mostly men) who wanted to come home bearing a package of our Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Fudge for that special someone.
The following recipe does not use the same process I use in my commercial kitchen. I wanted to share one that is easy to make at home in small amounts. The recipe comes from “The Blue Willow Inn Cookbook.” We enjoyed Sunday brunch at The Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle, Georgia, with friends many years ago. Everything was southern-fried delicious!
(a favorite of Louis, one of the owners
of The Blue Willow Inn)
- 1 stick of butter, softened
- 1 16-oz. package powdered sugar
- ½ cup powdered cocoa
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
Melt butter over low heat in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined and smooth.
Pour mixture into an ungreased 9-inch pan and spread evenly.
Cool, cut and enjoy!
Note: This recipe is unlike most others for fudge, since it does not involve reading a candy thermometer or figuring out when your candy is at the “soft-ball” stage. Let me know how you like it!