Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Pumpkin Takes the Form of Fudge!
Pumpkin fudge. Who knew? I certainly had never thought of or heard of pumpkin fudge until a weekend or so ago when my Mom mentioned it. I knew this was something I just had to try, and with my Mother visiting me this week, today became the perfect day for an experiment.
Now, I haven't made fudge in ages. I remember Mom making fudge when I was a kid. The pan would sit on the counter to cool, and I just wanted to dig into the hot chocolate glop. I didn't quite understand the concept behind cooling to 110 degrees, then stirring until the fudge started to set up. I understand the basics of it now...You let it cool down and then stir stir stir (your arm will feel tired, you will want someone to help, luckily G was available to assist me a bit) so that the little crystals in the fudge line up nicely and you end up with a fairly smooth melt-in-your-mouth hunk of yum (at least that is my understanding....it is possible that I am wrong). Because this fudge turned out so lovely, I feel much more secure in my ability to make more fudge for the upcoming holiday season. Another thing I seem to remember about making fudge (or any candy, for that matter) is that the weather can have an effect on the end product. Rainy or damp days are not the best for candy production, unless you live in an airtight temperature controlled room. I am lucky the rain hasn't seriously started here in Silicon Valley (having moved here a few months ago I'm not sure when it will start), or my fudge may have not set up as nicely.
I encourage people who haven't made fudge the old fashioned way to give it a try, the texture is different and the flavor is much deeper than any of the newer recipes that use marshmallow as a base. With that, on to the recipe!
3 cups white sugar
1 cup whole milk (I didn't have whole milk and used half 1% milk and half heavy cream)
3 Tbsp corn syrup
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned or home-made)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used 3/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger and a few grates of whole nutmeg)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts or peanuts or whatever nut you think will be tasty
-In a heavy bottomed saucepan, stir together sugar, milk, corn syrup, pumpkin puree and salt. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly and brushing down sides of the sauce pan with water.
-Reduce heat to medium and cook without stirring to 234 degrees f on a candy thermometer or until the mixture forms a soft ball when dropped into ice water.
-Remove from heat and stir in spices, butter, vanilla and pecans.
Set aside and allow to cool to 110 degrees f. This seems to drop about 10 degrees every ten minutes, but this was in my coolish apartment. It may take more or less time for you. Don't stir it while it is cooling.
-Have an 8"x8" pan greased and ready.
-Once the mixture reaches 110 degrees f, begin stirring. Stir Stir Stir Stir. Stir some more. Maybe stir it a bit longer. You are to stir until the mixture loses its gloss and starts to thicken considerably. Stir some more, you aren't there yet...Stir till your arm feels like it's going to fall off, then switch hands and stir a bit more...you get the idea. It does take some time and patience and lots of elbow grease to get there, but fear not, it will. Once the mixture starts to thicken and lose it's gloss (not before this happens) immediately pour, or scrape..I found my bowl scraper very handy for both working the mixture and scraping it to the pan...into the prepared 8"x8" pan. Let it set up.
-Cut into about 36 nice little squares.
-Share the love.
Happy Candy Making!