Why do people say “easy as pie”? Anyone who has ever made a pie knows that this is a truly silly statement. Pie crust is finicky. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the challenge – I like making pie. But I wouldn’t call it “easy”. That’s kind of like saying “easy as yoga”. There is nothing easy about crow pose.
What people should say is “easy as fudge”.
I always assumed that making fudge had to be a scary, messy process involving candy thermometers and cooling tables. No one told me that four simple ingredients, and about five minutes of effort, could yield delightfully smooth, rich fudge. No one, that is, until my mother-in-law. She makes mountains of this stuff every year at the holidays (I think that Jeff annually consumes at least three or four pounds of fudge between Christmas and New Years). It makes a wonderful holiday gift for anyone from your hairdresser to your great-aunt.
So even though the holidays are long gone, when I was wracking my brain for a homemade housewarming treat to cart down to Texas with me, fudge seemed like the perfect choice. Packed in a little tin, it travels amazingly well. And my chocoholic friend Katie will adore the deep, rich flavor of this intense, dark chocolate fudge. Yes, her name is Katie too. And we both love chocolate. We’re a match made in heaven.
So, Katie, if you’re reading this, I guess I spoiled the chocolatey surprise. You’re getting a tin of fudge when you pick me up at the airport tomorrow. I promise you’ll enjoy it even more after a whole night of chocolate anticipation.
Now, you probably already knew all about the wonders of quick and easy fudge. But if, like me, you have been in the dark all these years, let me just point out that this is really a base recipe. You can add nuts, dried fruit, or even chopped up candy (think peppermint patties, milky way bars, etc) at the last minute before spreading in the pan. I quite like this plain old dark chocolate version, though. I’ve always liked basic chocolate fudge best. When I was 13 years old my friend Laura and I took the ferry over to Block Island for the day – all by ourselves. And because we had no parents to watch our every move, we bought and ate two pounds of chocolate fudge; one for breakfast and one for dinner. You might think after that day I would detest chocolate fudge, but you’d be wrong.
Kim’s Easy Chocolate Fudge
1 pound good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with foil. Generously grease the foil and set the pan aside. In a sauce pan over low heat, melt the chocolate, stirring constantly to avoid burning the chocolate (you can do this over a double boiler if you want, but it’s not necessary, as long as you are very careful). As soon as the chocolate melts completely, add the condensed milk and the saltand continue stirring quickly to combine. Cook, stirring, about 1 minute more. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla. Spread the fudge mixture into the prepared pan. Take your time smoothing the top of the fudge. Refrigerate until fully set, at least a few hours, but longer is better. Remove the fudge from the pan, peeling away the foil. Cut into pieces (any size you like) and serve. Keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two weeks.