So along with all this Other stuff I've been busy cooking for my week long camp out, today I'm tackling Fudge. Why? Well, there's 2 reasons, really. First: why not? Second: competition, baby! One of the smaller groups taking part in this rather extensive get together is hosting a Fudge Off!! competition for anyone who wants to participate. There are only 2 requirements - bring your best fudge, and bring "documentation" (read "print your recipe so we can all get copies, damnit.")
The first thing to do in such a case, of course, is to figure out just what sort of Fudge to make. There's a lot of really good recipes out there. Coming up with my own that is both creative and tasty seemed like the way to go. Especially since there is a common fudge ingredient that I personally try to avoid like the plague: corn syrup. That stuff is apparently Everywhere these days. I hate it. I don't keep it in my kitchen at all. And I either adapt or avoid recipes that call for it. In the course of trying to figure out how to adapt Fudge back to methods that don't require corn syrup, I ran across the realization that it's practically impossible any longer to find a recipe for Caramel that doesn't call for the same dadgum thing. Fortunately, if you look long enough and hard enough, you Can find caramel and fudge recipes that are "vintage" enough not to have corn syrup listed as an ingredient. They take longer to make, they're much more finicky, and oh brother do they have to be babysat so they don't burn. But if you're willing to put in the effort, it's well worth the trouble.
Over the years, I've learned several important things about making Fudge or Caramel - things that seem like "duh" moments when you remember them (or tell someone else to make sure they do it that way) but which - if forgotten - can rapidly become a major Problem. The french term "Mise En Place" (pronounced "meese in plas") meaning 'putting in place' really becomes important when making candy of any sort. You'll want to have everything set up before you start. You'll especially want to have things like your heavily buttered pan to pour your fudge into for cooling/hardening ready, and your candy thermometer close by before you start. Because once you put things on the heat, it becomes both time and temperature sensitive, and you don't have time to do things that you haven't prepped before hand!
While this recipe turned out fabulously and is sure to be a hit, it will also be difficult (if not impossible) to exactly duplicate unless you live in my area. I used a specialty cocoa powder from my local high end specialty spice shop, and I used a specialty cocoa Sugar that only they carry that I'm aware of. While you could substitute Hersey's Special Dark cocoa powder for the Mayan Cocoa powder that I used, I'm not sure what you would use to substitute for the Black Onyx Sugar that I'm fairly sure is created in store.
One (1) 12 oz can sweetened condensed milk (1 cup but I didn't scrape the can)
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, half reserved, plus enough to seriously grease your pan
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup Black Onyx Sugar from Savory Spice Shop, Oklahoma City (sugar, black onyx cocoa powder, Ceylon cinnamon, Mexican vanilla beans, chocolate extract)
5 tablespoons Mayan Cocoa from Savory Spice Shop, Oklahoma City (Dutch cocoa, chile peppers, cinnamon, vanilla powder)
2 tablespoons Grade A Dark Maple Syrup
6 slices bacon, fried crispy, cooled, and chopped up fine
1 cup finely chopped Pecans
1 tablespoon Honey
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Mix Sugar, Cocoa Powder, Cream, Condensed Milk, Maple Syrup, Honey, and 2 tablespoons butter in pan, and Slowly raise the temperature, melting the butter and making sure all of the sugar is completely dissolved into the liquid. Once sugar is completely dissolved, slowly raise temperature of mixture to bring to a low rolling boil, stirring constantly and frequently scraping sides of pan. Boil mixture for 10 to 12 minutes, until temperature is between 250f and 280f. Remove from heat and allow to cool until temperature is below 130. Add vanilla extract, pecans, and bacon bits, stirring until well mixed and it has begun to thicken. Quickly pour mixture into heavily buttered baking dish and allow to cool completely, at least 4 to 6 hours, before cutting. Store in air tight container.