Christmas Day is now just ten days away, prompting me to reconsider just how much time I have to do all my holiday shopping. I mean, even if I had the money to buy thoughtful presents, everything’s pretty much coming from Target at this point. If only there were a cost-effective, homemade gift I could mass-produce in a day and come out a hero…wait a minute…
This recipe dates from the Depression and World War II — times when chocolate was an almost unimaginable luxury. It was always viewed with a bit of awe.
Makes about 64 1-inch squares
2 cups sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 1-0z squares unsweetened baking chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1. tsp. vanilla
Butter an 8-inch square baking dish and set it aside. Mix together the sugar, salt, chocolate, and cream in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the chocolate melts. Brush away any sugar crystals that develop on the side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook the mixture, without stirring, until it reaches soft-ball stage (between 234 degrees and 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Gently remove the pan from the heat and drop in the butter, but do not stir it in. It is very important to not stir or jostle the fudge at this point, or it will become gritty and grainy. Let the fudge cool to 110 degrees F.
Add the vanilla and beat vigorously until the fudge loses its gloss and begins to thicken and look like fudge. This will take at least 10 or 15 minutes, so it’s fine to use an electric mixer. Be patient as nothing happens for several minutes, but then there is a dramatic change in the appearance of the fudge. It becomes smooth and creamy. Scrape the fudge into the buttered dish. Cool completely and cut into squares.
As Merry Christmas Week draws to a close, I want to send you off with something to keep you warm–something bursting with comfort and joy–but I cannot buy everyone a Snuggie. So instead, I offer a recipe for Mulled Red Wine from Camille Glenn’s Old Fashioned Christmas Cookbook. I suggest serving this sometime after you slice the celery sticks but well before your nephew opens his Sock em’-Siren-Whistle-Rifle.
Mulled Red Wine
This is a festive and delicious punch that complements beef, ham, or game (or spending extended amounts of time with extended family).
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
Zest and juice of 1/2 navel orange
2 cups cold water
7 or 8 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick (3 inches long)
1/4 cup sugar
1 bottle good-quality red wine
1. Warm 12 to 15 punch cups.
2. Finely sliver the lemon and orange zest. Strain the lemon and orange juices into a stainless-steel saucepan. Add the zest, water, cloves, cinnamon stick, and sugar.
3. Pour in the wine and heat the mixture until it is very hot, but do not allow it to boil. Strain the wine into a heated pitcher and then pour it into the warm punch cups and serve immediately.
Serves 12 to 15
–Susannah Long, Intern