Monday, May 7, 2012

Lemon Butter Fudge

I have been wanting to make some fudge for awhile but I have always thought it to be a difficult task.  Remembering my childhood days of having to assist in the hand beating of the batter was not something I relished.  Then my thermometer was nowhere to be found (perhaps a subconscious means of fudge aversion).  However, I finally broke down and bought a new digital thermometer with the intention of making fudge.

When thumbing through a recipe book, there was a section on "exotics fudges", which did catch my interest.  Most of the recipes were not unique flavors, but had a unique ingredient-goat's milk.   Then I found the lemon butter fudge recipe, unique in flavor but no goat's milk.

Since I liked lemon cream filled candy, I thought this would be an unusual treat that would be enjoyed by many people. Also the recipe had a option of including nuts which made it even better.

Now with technology and good equipment like a food processor, that wretched task of beating by hand was out of the picture!  For my first time making fudge, I was pleasantly surprised at the results. My biggest fear was graininess or that it would not set up.  However, in the end my hesitation was just delaying something that was actually a fun project with delicious results. I am a fan of lemon and citrusy things so the tart flavor and creamy texture definitely scored in my book.  Also, I included pecans which added another tasty layer of flavor and crunch. This recipe makes 1 pound of fudge.

Needless to say I am gifting these up for a few special people. Giving gifts for no special reason is always fun!

Lemon Butter Fudge
adapted from Oh Fudge by Lee Benning

4 tbs butter (do not use margarine)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbs 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 inch by 2 inch piece lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk

Optional Ingredients
1/2 to 1 tsp lemon extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts
4 drops yellow food coloring

Prepare your thermometer by placing it in a glass of hot water so it will be pre-warmed.  Take a 2 quart sauce pan and butter the upper 2/3 of the sides of the inside of the pan.  Fill a glass with water and ice.  Also, fill the sink full of cold water to a depth of 1 1/2 inches.

Grease the inside of a 5X10 inch pan and line with parchment paper in bottom and two opposite sides with overhang.  Place the butter in the freezer.

Place all ingredients in the saucepan with the exception of butter and the list of optional ingredients. Put saucepan over low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved.  The spoon should glide smoothly over the inside bottom of pan with no grittiness.

Increase the heat and let mixture come to a boil.  Use a pastry brush dipping in hot water to wash down the sugar crystals on the inside edges that precede the batter.  Place pre-warmed thermometer in candy and reduce heat but maintain boil.  Once thermometer registers between 236 to 244 degrees Fahrenheit, test by placing a drop in ice water.  It should hold shape until the heat from your fingers start to flatten it and it has a slightly chewy texture.

Once it is at the correct consistency, take saucepan and place in the sink of cold water.  Then drop in frozen butter. Do not stir.  Leave thermometer in candy and wait until it cools down to a temperature of 110 degrees and develops a skin on top.

Pour mixture into food processor, take out zest and add two optional ingredients-the food coloring and lemon extract.  Place the cover over the food processor and leave the feed tube uncovered so steam can escape.   Turn on food processor and run for 3 minutes and let rest for 1 minute.  Repeat this process until the fudge thickens and loses it sheen.  It will become lighter in shade and then stiffen.  For me the true indicator was when the batter did not flow back to the center when the machine was shut off.  It left about a 3/4 inch gap.  This process took about 12 minutes.

Once the right consistency is achieved, mix in the nuts.  Then pour into the prepared pan and let cool.  Once cool, pull on parchment paper to take out of pan and cut into desired shapes.  Then it is ready to serve.  Cover tightly and refrigerate to store.

Tips and Notes:

1. This does give your food processor a work out, it did get very warm.
2. My mom used to serve 1 inch by 1 inch pieces of fudge, these pieces are between 1/2 to 3/4 an inch thick
3. You can use a towel dampened with cold water to place around the outside of the processor bowl to speed up the thickening process of the candy.
4.  I did not take out the zest and let the food processor grind it up to blend into the fudge
5.  Taste batter before opting for the lemon extract, for strength of flavor is a personal preference
6.   I monitored the progression of the candy changes in the consistency by periodically stopping and watching the movement of the batter when machine was of as well as tasting and getting a "mouthfeel" of the texture.
7. Once batter is in pan, it sets up fast, so do not delay in spreading it out.
8. Statement from recipe says"not easily doubled but can be frozen"
                      LAST YEAR:Jalapeno Cheese Squares**