Friday, September 23, 2011

Tastes Like Fall: Pumpkin Fudge

Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin fudge. 
a paraphrased and edited (by the spotted hen) quote
by Jim Davis

One of the sweetest words to my ears is "fudge".  Pair that with the word "pumpkin" and I am yours.  About two years ago the Geek and I discovered this yummy confection and I have had making a batch on my to do list.  Well, I can finally check it off and say with gusto, "This one's a keeper!"

You can find this recipe in it's original entirety here  on the blog "Every Creative Endeavor".  I am sure it would be super duper as is, but I made a few changes to the original recipe so I'm gonna just go ahead and tell you how I did it.  No matter how you do it, it's pretty quick and the perfect way to celebrate the first day of fall.

Pumpkin Fudge
Here's what you need:

1 1/2 cups sugar
I'm just talking the regular old run of the mill white stuff.

1/2 cup canned pumpkin
If you are a real "Martha-type" you could cook  and puree up the stuff from scratch, but that's just too much work for me!

1/2 tsp salt
I like to use as little added salt as possible so I just used a pinch (closer to 1/4 tsp.) and it turned out just fine and dandy.

2/3 cup milk
Go with whole milk here folks.  It's fudge for goodness sakes!  If you are a real rebel, you could even use evaporated milk and make it even creamier.  I had planned to do this, but forgot ... now I'll just have to make it again.

2 Tablespoon butter
I prefer to use the unsalted stuff, especially since the recipe calls for additional salt.

1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
I had a jar of this in my cupboard, but you can make this up yourself using a recipe like this one using a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice.

1 12 oz package vanilla baking chips
I used Toll House brand and I was not disappointed.

2 cups mini marshmallows
Any brand will do ... I used my local grocery stores brand and they worked perfectly.  You could substitute a 7 oz. jar marshmallow fluff if you're feeling so moved.  I plan to try making it with fluff the next time I do this just to make it a bit easier on myself.

1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Use the best stuff you can afford and PUH-LEASE only the REAL stuff.  If there is one thing I have learned as I become a better cook is that what you make is only as good as the ingredients you use :)  Incidently, I misread the original recipe and used 1 1/2 tsp. of vanilla.  I'm a big vanilla fan anyway ... so no harm, no foul.

3/4 cup of chopped toasted pecans
I wasn't feeling particularly nutty enough to do this today, but I think I am gonna give it a try the next time I make it.

Families are like fudge... mostly sweet with a few nuts.

Here's what you do:

Line an 9 x 9  inch pan with foil making sure that the foil hangs over the edges of the pan.  The original recipe said 8 x 8 inch pan, but I didn't have one and it worked out just hunky-dory.  You'll want to spray the foil with non stick spray to make getting it out and eating it later easy peasy.

Dump the  sugar, milk, pumpkin, butter, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a medium saucepan --- you'll be happy when you go to wash it if it's nonstick -- and give it a good stir.  I didn't melt the butter first 'cuz I figured it'd do that pretty quick once I started cooking and I was right. 

Here's the part that you might balk at a bit, I know I did.  You are going to need to put the pan on medium heat and stir constantly until it boils and then keep stirring the boiling goop for 12 more minutes. I tend to avoid recipes that require constant stirring, especially ones that take a while, but do what I did.  Put on some tunes and mindlessly stir and it'll all be over before you know it. 

The original recipe did not call for a candy thermometer, but I had one so I decided to go ahead and use it.  12 minutes is about the time it takes to reach "soft ball stage" or 240°F.  I don't know how crucial this is, but I do know one of the biggest complaints I saw on the web while looking for a pumpkin fudge recipe, was that sometimes the fudge didn't set up right for people.  Knowing this I decided to err on the side of caution and use my handy dandy candy thermometer and the fudge turned out perfect.  Bottom line, use a candy thermometer if you have one, or go all rogue and sans one if you don't and just take your chances.

Once it's at 240°F (or boiled for about 12 minutes), take the pan off the stove and stir in the vanilla, marshmallows, and vanilla chips.  Keep stirring until it's all nice and smooth or do like me... stop when your arms starts to fall off and you figure what's a few unmelted marshmallows and vanilla chips gonna hurt.  

Pour the sweet smelling mess into your the foil lined pan.  Cover it with some plastic wrap or foil and put it in your refrigerator for an hour or so until it is set.  

Once it's all set, pop it out of the pan onto a cutting board and cut yourself a piece.  Pop it in your mouth and say "Mmmmmm!"  Warning, this stuff is kinda rich, so start with a small piece or you'll end up with a belly ache like someone I know :)

Enjoy and Happy First Day of Fall!

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