04 December 2014

Why Do I Never Sleep Well Before a Travel Day?

    (These pans are 5" square. Use just one for thicker fudge.)

Just tired enough. Nope. Not gonna happen. My mind begins a slow spin. I'd considered baking cookies to take to my MIL (86) and my 93-year old Dad, but between the soup making and the spaghetti sauce prep I lost the thread

So... At 12:20am I start thinking about my Mom's fudge. Actually, it's called Mrs Bates' fudge as my Mom learned the recipe in her junior high Home Ec class. (Mrs. Bates' actually showed up across town at our elementary school and taught all my sisters (4) and I  7th grade science.)

We didn't have any exotic ingredients in our home growing up, but we always had Hershey's cocoa, Karo syrup, milk, and vanilla. So, we often whipped up this recipe. And, whipped we did because once the mixture reaches soft-ball stage you must quickly add 3 T. of butter and the teaspoon of vanilla. Then, you stir and stir and stir, until the shine is JUST off the gooey chocolate and you can tell the spoonfuls are slightly mounding. You have to hurry like the dickens to get it poured and smoothed. If you've neglected to butter your dish or pan, you're probably going to end up with a sugary mess. Still edible, I can attest.

Smarty pants me thought I'd judge soft-ball stage with a candy thermometer, but I had a small glass of cold water at the ready. Good thing. Soft-ball arrived a good 15º before the candy thermometer registered it was near. And, I got to retrieve the chocolatey glop out of the water and eat it. Blast from the past!

Let me just say that it was a rare occasion indeed when the Jacobs' family had nuts available. These were toasted at 350º for about 7 minutes before I roughly chopped them.

I sure hope my Dad appreciates this tin of Mom's fudge. He's not the most sentimental of guys, and he's a world class bad and sometimes inappreciative gift receiver. World class. At one point in the past I digressed into giving him a pair of socks with some cash inside. The socks were a part of an old family story he loves to tell. An eccentric shirt-tail relative was known to bark at Christmas or birthdays, "And, don't give me any more damn! socks." The 20s were so that he could choose his own gift. He'd always return anything else he was given. Cash worked.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 T. Hershey's cocoa
  • 2 T. Karo syrup
  • 1 cup Milk
Butter the serving pan or plate. Set aside. Waxed paper works, too.
Mix the first four ingredients and stir over medium-high heat
Continue cooking until mixture thickens and reaches the soft-ball stage. (When chocolate liquid is dropped into a small glass of cold water, you can easily form a ball using your fingers.)
Now, you must work quickly. Remove from heat.
Have ready:
  • 3 T. Butter
  • 1tsp. Vanilla
Add the butter and vanilla.
Stir the chocolate mixture rapidly until butter is blended in.
Continue whipping lightly until it begins to thicken. You should notice the sheen is dimming and the spoonfuls begin stacking up.
Pour quickly into prepared pan or plate.
Smooth quickly with a knife or spatula.
Nuts are optional. Today, I sprinkled them into the buttered pan before pouring the fudge over.
Cut squares before fudge hardens too much.

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