Sweet Redemption

Every year after Thanksgiving, I start getting excited about all the things I can do and make as Christmas time approaches.  All of those heavenly smells that come from the kitchen and the really pretty tins and boxes of cookies and the presents that details have been paid attention to even in the wrapping because they're almost too pretty to open.  The decorations that adorn the mantle and the porch pillars and the wreaths that hang from the ornate ribbon over every window and door, the lights strung so carefully and evenly.  I really love all of these sights and smells and actions, but **SIGH**I have run out of money, time and steam, and I can't afford to make such a beautiful season stressful, so I opt to do only a few of the things on my fantasy list. 

  Fudge.  I love fudge.  Not just any fudge...REAL fudge.  Oh, I'll eat the marshmallow creme stuff and not complain about it, but I will not ever pass up a piece of real, butter-and-cream-and-sugar-cooked-just-right fudge!  In as many memories as I have of Christmas celebrations, there is not one that doesn't include my Grandma Esther's Black and White Fudge.  If my Gran wasn't with us at Christmas, my mom made it and I've actually given it a try a couple of times just so we I wouldn't be without.  This year, my mom didn't make any for me.  *SNIFFLE*  So...I had to make my own.  Family recipe book open, and..."how hard can it be??"  Just look at the ingredients...it doesn't look like gourmet rocket science.

Oh, contrair mon frair!  Even with the high-techy digital thermometer, it was a disaster!  I don't even know what went wrong, I just know that I threw out the entire pan.  I did not selvage one single bit.  It was bad.  It was worse than bad.  I shudder when I think of it!
 Give up, I will NOT.  So, I returned to the store and purchased more cream and came home to try it again.  Cook it slower.  Stir it with a wooden spoon, but not too much.  (I learn things from Alton Brown you know--he says not to stir candy too much while it is cooking...it's a science thing!)  I can't remember where I learned not to use anything but a wooden spoon.  I may have made it up, but I'm pretty convinced that it is the way to go.  This time, I cooked it slowly to the soft ball stage (234 degrees).
 I buttered my pan generously while I waited for the temperature to rise.
 I prepared my additional ingredients in my Kitchen Aid mixing bowl because I can't use metal beaters from my hand mixer in my non-stick pots.  When the alarm beeped at me to indicate the mixture was indeed 234 degrees hot, I quickly poured it into the mixing bowl and whipped it, then poured it into the pan.

 Beautiful!  I had done it!  It was visibly successful!  I did my little happy dance and proceeded to make the white layer.
 Well, I may have celebrated a little soon, because the white didn't turn out at all.  It tasted ok, but it was wrong.  Just look at it...the top is not supposed to run off the bottom!  We ate it.  (The whole entire pan)  But we scraped the white off and ate that perfect chocolate bottom.  Mm-mm-mm!
 After consuming that much sugar, I felt that my attempt was as good as it was going to get, and at least I got some black and white fudge--sort of.  No.  NOPE.  Not good enough.  I WILL MAKE GOOD FUDGE.  So, back to the store for more cream.  I was sure to purchase enough for two more recipes, just to avoid having to return for more!
 Can you say YUMMY!  I did it.  Ahh...sweet redemption!  Really sweet!  It is still not the same as my grandma's and my mom's.  The consistency is a little different, but is it good?  Oh my, yes, it is excellent.  The black.  The white.  No less than...almost perfect.  Hey...my Grandma threw away a batch this year too, and I know from my mom, that practice makes better, but perfect is rare, and sometimes, success may be too. 

I had helpers.  Of course I did...when don't I have my trusty bowl-and-spoon-lickin' sous chefs??  There is always evidence that I have helpers:
 I will make another batch, just to make sure the success isn't a one-time thing, and maybe I'll even get a pretty little box so I can make it look as good as it tastes.  Here's hoping I don't end up at the store after Christmas to buy a bigger size pants!  We're happy to be able to continue a tradition, and hopefully pass it on too!