Recipe: Pumpkin-Macadamia Nut Fudge

April 05 2010 - 3:21 PM

For a recent dinner party, I volunteered to help bring a dish and was subsequently asked to pitch in a dessert item. Sure thing, I said. Then I realized that I was out of flour, and since I'm moving soonish, a lot of my kitchen equipment is in storage. For a brief moment, I considered the prospects of whipping cream by hand or making crust without a pastry blender, then decided that was a silly notion. Next, I remembered that I would be running errands beforehand and traveling on bike, so it might be complicated to transport a delicate pie or a layer cake. In short, the dessert item needed to be flourless, highly portable, and not involve too much fancy equipment. Just as I was wallowing in despair over what to do, a friend suggested making fudge. I ran to my drawer of miscellaneous gadgets and lo and behold, I still had a candy thermometer around. And thus, I decided to embark on my first attempt at candy-making.

Like baking, candy-making is known as an exacting art that demands precision. Before starting, I did a little background research to suss out what problems fudge-makers commonly face. Essentially, you want to combine sugar, butter, milk, chocolate and other flavorings into a smooth, creamy product that is firm but not gritty. Recipes that call for evaporated milk or marshmallow cream help prevent crystallization. I looked at my candy thermometer warily, and hoped that it was accurate.

Into a thick pan went some sugar, melted butter, evaporated milk, pumpkin, corn syrup and pumpkin pie spices. I cranked my stove to medium-high heat and began stirring.

Little known fact: boiling fudge has range. For all the warnings I read about the complications of fudge-making, no one mentioned potential injuries. I kept getting splattered by little hot flecks of sugar mixture, probably a sign that I should have used a deeper pan. Or, maybe a frying screen would have come in handy here. About 17 minutes later, I was relieved when the mixture finally reached 234 F, or soft-ball stage.

After mixing in a bag of white chocolate chips, a jar of marshmallow Fluff, nuts and vanilla extract, I poured the fudge mixture into an aluminum foil-lined glass dish. Then, I agonized while waiting for the pan to cool. Try not to move the pan while it is cooling, since any extra movement may result in the fudge crystallizing. Two hours later, I cut a cube out of the pan and beamed. My mouth was full of chocolatey-pumpkin goodness! Now to foist the fudge onto other people before eating it all myself…

Adapted from Southern Living

3 c sugar
1/2 c melted butter

2/3 c evaporated milk
1 c pumpkin, canned
2 T corn syrup
2 t pumpkin pie spices (I used a mix of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ground ginger)
1 (12 oz) package of white chocolate chips
1 (7 oz) jar of marshmallow cream/fluff
1 c Macadamia nuts, toasted (or your nut of choice)
1 t vanilla extract

Candy thermometer, rectangular pan

Combine the first 6 ingredients (through spices) in a deep saucepan or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. (My standard 10" saucepan was barely large enough.) Stir constantly until the mixture reaches soft-ball stage, or 234 F on a candy thermometer. Remove the pan from heat and add the remaining ingredients, stirring until well-mixed. Pour into a 9" square pan lined with greased aluminum foil. (I used a 9×13" Pyrex dish.) Let the pan cool for at least 2 hours before cutting into squares.

Yield: about 3 pounds of fudge