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Recipe of the week: Never-Fail Chocolate Fudge

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

Does this winter weather have you in the mood to bake? Fudge isn’t technically something you bake, but it’s a sweet treat to get you in the kitchen and thinking about all the goodies you’re going to make this holiday season.

This never-fail chocolate fudge recipe is from “An American Family Cooks” by Judith Choate (Welcome Books, $45), who has written or co-written more than 100 books in the past 40 years.

UPDATE: And below Judith’s recipe, you’ll find a Million Dollar Fudge recipe from reader Jill Sandal, which she swears is the easier fudge recipe you’ll find. (You have to have a microwave that can operate at various power levels, though.)

In this new book, Choate turns her focus on the culinary adventures of her own family, which include a number of grandchildren and friends who might as well be family. It’s a hefty compilation, peppered with lessons learned and stories earned over a lifetime in the food industry.

My Never-Fail Chocolate Fudge

When I was in my full-blown homemade-Christmas-celebration years, I would make lots and lots of candy. The candy was always a hit simply because most people had never tasted homemade. Some of it came from my childhood — Mom’s favorites were popcorn balls, bourbon balls and divinity. Of these, I liked only popcorn balls, which I often used as tree decorations. Divinity was too sugary — even for me — and I have never liked any sweet that is flavored with alcohol. Most of the other candies I made were recipes I had gathered from old cookbooks or good home cooks. Peanut brittle and chocolate fudge were at the top of my list. Of all of these goodies, chocolate fudge is the only one that I continue to make every Christmas.

— Judith Choate

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate (bits or a block chopped into small pieces)

2 cups toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract

20 large marshmallows

4 cups sugar

2 (5-oz.) cans evaporated milk

Lightly butter a 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan. Set aside.

Combine the chocolate with the nuts, butter and vanilla in a large heatproof mixing bowl. Set aside.

Combine the marshmallows and sugar in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Stir in the evaporated milk and place over medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Continuing to stir, boil for exactly 6 minutes.

Immediately remove from the heat and, beating constantly with a wooden spoon, pour the hot mixture into the chocolate mix. Beat vigorously for a few minutes, or until the fudge is creamy. Quickly scrape the fudge into the prepared pan or platter, pushing slightly with the back of the spoon (or a spatula) to spread the fudge evenly.

Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting the candy into small squares. Store, in layers separated by waxed paper, for up to 1 week or, refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes about 2 pounds.

— From “An American Family Cooks” by Judith Choate (Welcome Books, $45)

Million- Dollar Fudge

2 3/4 cups sugar

1 stick margarine

1 (5 oz.) can evaporated milk

Dash of salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 12 oz. semisweet bar chopped)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Mix first four ingredients in large Pyrex batter bowl (margarine will still be a stick). Microwave on high for 5 minutes. (If fudge begins to boil over during the microwaving, open microwave door and let settle and then press start. You might have to do this several times, depending on the weather.) Remove and stir. Microwave at 70 percent for 3 minutes. Remove and stir. Microwave at 80 percent for 2 min. Remove and add chocolate chips. Stir until melted. Stir in vanilla and nuts, if using. Stir until smooth. Pour into buttered 8-inch-by-8-inch dish.

Let set for a few hours and cut into 64 pieces.

— Submitted by Jill Sandal