Monday, February 7, 2011

Perfect Peanut Butter Fudge

A great homemade gift to make in large batches and give out to friends or family for Valentine's Day. Drizzle with dark or white chocolate or sprinkle the tops with chopped nuts for an extra special touch.

Creamy, melt-in-your-mouth peanut butter fudge made in the traditional candy making way to ensure perfect texture and flavor. It takes some time but fudge is worth it!

Perfect Peanut Butter Fudge
special tools necessary- candy thermometer
1 cup organic white sugar
1 cup organic light brown sugar
pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup oat milk
1/4 cup earth balance vegan butter
1 1/4 cup sweetened creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract

Prepare an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper so the fudge is easy to remove.
Combine the sugars, salt, cream of tartar and milk in a tall pot. Mix to combine. Using a candy thermometer, boil to 235 degrees (soft ball stage). Do not stir the sugar while this is boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to 110 degrees, still not stirring anything! Make sure to really keep an eye on these temperatures, they are very important. Add the butter, peanut butter and vanilla when the temperature is exactly 110 (not higher or lower).
Stir with a sturdy wooden spoon to combine and melt. Keep stirring until the fudge mixture turns from glossy to dull, lightens in color and stiffens. Make sure not to over mix or mix too fast but this may take 10 minutes and you may develop Popeye arm syndrome if you don't switch hands.
Pour the fudge into the baking dish, smooth on top and let cool at room temperature until firm and cool enough to cut into squares.

Secrets to perfect fudge:
Fudge is easy to make fast, with chocolate or peanut butter and powdered sugar but it won't be that perfect creamy fudge you get at a candy store. Perfect fudge involves boiling cream or milk and sugar, cooling it to the right temperature and then beating it until you reach the correct consistency.

A candy thermometer is vital in making great fudge. Correct temperatures are key when cooking sugar. Heat the sugar to soft ball stage; 235-240. If it is not hot enough, the fudge will not hold its shape, too hot and it will be too firm. When cooling, wait until exactly 110 degrees. If you start to stir before it cools enough it will become grainy, if you wait too long and the temperature goes below 110, the fudge will be too stiff to mix.

It does not pay to take short cuts! The first time I made this, I used an electric beater instead of stirring it by hand, and in a matter of seconds it was over mixed and grainy. Still edible that's for sure, but not exactly what the goal was.

Most fudge recipes call for corn syrup. Corn syrup works to keep the fudge from completely firming up. I don't really like using corn syrup in my cooking so I used cream of tartar, which has the same effect but can not be used interchangeably in amounts.

Butter should always be added after the temperature has cooled to 110 degrees. If added before the butter will coat the individual sugar crystals and prevent them from dissolving. This results in a grainy fudge.

Don't stir! Stirring while boiling or cooling the sugar causes the sugar crystals to grow and become too large, resulting in grainy fudge.

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