"Beth was sweeter than her fudge." These were the first words delivered at my grandmother's funeral. And they rang true. My grandmother, or rather step-grandmother really, though I never considered her to be "step," was famous for both her loving nature and her fudge. I've mentioned before that I have the best grandfather in the world, and his devotion to Beth is just one of the many reasons. She had a series of strokes the day after Easter in 2004. They left her paralyzed pretty much from the neck down. She was admitted into a rehabilitation center, and lived there until she died in September of 2006. Twice a day, every single day, Pop visited her for a minimum of 2 hours. Every. Single. Day. My sweet Pop was the most devoted husband I've ever seen. And this was the second wife he'd buried. I just marvel at that commitment and love, and I can only hope that Joey and I still feel that way about each other when we're old and gray (or bald, as in Pop's case)!
Every year she literally made dozens of pounds of her fudge. It's nothing out of the ordinary - just a classic chocolate fudge, but there was something special about hers. It was always the perfect consistency. And super sweet - which some may complain about, but it's fudge. What do you expect? She would "grudgingly" say at Thanksgiving every year that it was time to start the great fudge-making extravaganza, and we all looked forward to Christmas because she always brought it to our gatherings. And we'd usually smuggle some home. Luckily, she shared her recipe with my mom, who has now shared it with me.
A candy thermometer is absolutely vital for this fudge: if the mixture isn't hot enough, it won't set. If its too hot, it will be grainy and dry. So 238 degrees Farenheit exactly is what you want. Other than that, it is very straightforward and simple: Melt the sugar, marshmallows, butter, and milk together to reach 238, then mix in the chocolate, vanilla, and cream of tartar. Easy peasy.
With 5 cups of sugar, this is not for the faint of heart. However, it is one of the most nostalgic treats out there for me, and I can't help but to feel closer to her when I make it. In fact, I made a batch recently, and gave a tin of it to Pop for his birthday. He was quite excited to be able to enjoy this fudge again after all these years, and now that Joey has proclaimed it to be "the best fudge ever," I hope to carry on her tradition for years to come.
makes 5 pounds
- 1 (15-ounce) can evaporated milk
- 5 cups sugar
- 1 package mini marshmallows
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 (12-ounce) package, plus 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 Tbs vanilla extract
- 2 cups nuts (optional)
Remove from heat, and using an electric mixer, beat in the chocolate chips, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract. Fold in the nuts, if using. Carefully but quickly, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, and use a spatula to smooth the top. Allow to set before cutting into squares.