Food, family, fellowship….awe the Holiday Traditions tend to center around food. I won’t share my age, but by first Christmas away from home was at the ripe old age of 18. That year my mom sent me a prized Christmas gift that I still cherish and use today. It was a photo album full of pictures of me from birth to 18 and hand written recipes that were my favorites that mom made. On that first Christmas away from home, my cooking skills included popcorn, homemade fudge, cornflake candy and hamburger helper. I needed this book!
Memories and traditions are held inside these pages. The old school magnetic album started to loose its hold on the pictures. So, I found a scrapbook to keep the memories alive. Mom also used some old drawings of mine and the Christmas card sent to my parents from the doctor that delivered me. This cookbook is out and on my kitchen counter for daily reference.
One of the first things I learned to make was fudge; not the marshmallow or easy fudge, but the old-fashioned kind like my grandmother made. The smell alone takes me back to childhood and the memories of being with my grandma McCain. In my teen years, I asked Granny to teach me how to make fudge. She was ill and couldn’t be in the kitchen with me. From the living room, she told me to get out the “big stir” (pronounced steer). For those of you not from the south, that means big pot. Her measurements are where I got lost. She told me to scoop out 3 handfuls of sugar and add enough cocoa to turn the sugar to a pretty brown color. Blah! Ok, so this turned into a pan of goo, but not fudge. So, I turned to my mom. She measured it all out for me and that is the recipe that we will work from today. Before I start cooking at Christmas, I need a few things: Christmas decor, Christmas music, my hair up and out-of-the-way and a cute apron.
Ok. I am ready. Are you? Grab your tunes, apron and these items…
- 1/2 cup of cocoa
- 3 cups of sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of whole milk (I mix evaporated milk and water)
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 tsp of vanilla
In your pot, combine the sugar and cocoa with a whisk to get the lumps out of the cocoa. Then, add the milk and whisk.
Turn on the heat to high until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil.
Reduce the heat to a very small simmer. Depending on your stove, this may cook for quite some time 30-45 minutes. But, we don’t measure fudge in time. This type of fudge is done when you can form a soft ball in water. The consistency will change as it cooks. It will have a glossy look as it gets close to being done.
To test it, put cold water in a small cup. Pour a spoonful of the mixture into the water. If it just spatters around the bottom of the cup and you can not move it together into a ball, it’s not quite ready.
So, wait a few minutes and repeat that step. It’s ready when you can move the chocolate around in the water and form a soft ball. When you can form the ball, remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter and the vanilla flavoring and let it sit while it cools. Give it a few minutes to cool before stirring. Stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and flavoring are well blended. Pour into a greased 8×8 pan. DO NOT REFRIGERATE!! Let it cool at room temperature. Can you smell it? Now, the best part is scraping the fudge off the sides of the pan and having a taste. Yum! I hope this one brings you and your family the joy that it brings our family. It wouldn’t be Christmas at our house without a few batches of this being made from Thanksgiving until Christmas. Family traditions are so important in this fast paced world. Being in the kitchen with your family, the smells of chocolate simmering, licking the spoon…these are the memories that are handed down through the generations.