Peanut Butter Fudge and Then Some

Peanut butter fudge and then some

What is it about peanut butter fudge? That rich creamy melt in your mouth sinful treat? Knowing you should stop with just one bite, but there is just no way possible. You take one small bite, just to satisfy that craving and before you realize it, the entire tin is gone and you don’t even remember eating it all and all you can think about it "where has it gone and how can I get some more?" That’s the lure and addiction of really good peanut butter fudge. Some people are choc-a-holics, I’m a peanut butter addict. Peanut butter fudge, cookies, candy, pie even… But how did peanut butter fudge come to be? Where did fudge even start? And how did it happen? Well, in doing some research, I discovered that fudge was actually a very good "oops". Did you know that fudge is actually a drier version of fondant – the sugar syrup paste used to coat many cakes and confections.

It is made by boiling sugar in milk to the soft ball stage then beating the mixture while it cools so it acquires a smooth creamy texture. Fudge is an all American invention dating to back around 1886 and actually came about from a bungled batch of caramels. The interjection "Oh fudge!" was shouted and hence the name for the confection was born – or something to that effect. Anyway, it’s probably the most delicious mistake I’ve ever eaten. One of the first documented accounts of fudge as an actual candy/confection was from Emelyn Battersby Hartridge in 1886.

Emelyn wrote a letter while attending Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York that a schoolmate’s cousin in Baltimore made and sold fudge candy. She made her own batch in 1888, obtaining the recipe and making it for the Vassar Senior Auction. Word quickly spread to other women’s colleges. Wellesley and Smith followed suit and developed their own "original" versions of Emelyn’s fudge recipe. The original fudge recipes were very delicate and precise. Calling for exact measurements and cooking times and constant stirring to ensure perfect fudge. The recipe looks simple enough, but it was very easy to either overcook or undercook a batch.

"Original" Fudge Recipe (Emelyn Hartridge, Vassar College)

2 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup cream
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter

Combine sugar and cream and cook over moderate heat. When this becomes very hot, add the chocolate. Stir constantly. Cook until mixture reaches soft-ball stage (234°-238°F). Remove from heat and add butter. Cool slightly, then mix until fudge starts to thicken. Transfer to a buttered tin. Cut into diamond-shaped pieces before fudge hardens completely.

Fudge is a very hard candy to master, but so delicious to eat. Cooks over the years have experimented with the recipe in an effort to make a more "goof proof" fudge and to vary the flavors. Fudge today is made plain or with nuts, marshmallows, maple, orange, rum, peanut butter…you name it. There are so many tasty fudge candies that it’s hard to settle on which is your favorite… It’s hard, but not impossible and I go back to peanut butter fudge each and every time. I really cannot resist the rich creamy taste. The first time I tasted the peanut butter fudge at Tanners Pecans I was hooked. I have eaten my fair share and then some of peanut butter fudge, but never tasted anything as creamy and rich and sinfully sweet as what I tasted here at Tanners Pecans. Of course I wanted the recipe, but they would not divulge their secret… and who could blame them? It was literally the best I’ve ever had! But I was able to learn that white chocolate mixed with the peanut butter is what gives it that irresistible creamy rich taste and texture. And even though I have not be able to obtain the Tanners peanut butter fudge recipe, I have been able to find one almost exactly like it – taste wise:

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge:

1 can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk
½ cup creamy peanut butter
2 (6 ounce) packages white chocolate squares or white baking bars, chopped
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract.

In heavy saucepan, heat sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter over medium heat until just bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in white chocolate until smooth. Immediately stir in pecans and vanilla. Spread evenly into wax paper lined 8-or 9-inch square pan. Cool. Cover and chill 2 hours or until firm. Turn fudge onto cutting board; peel off paper. Sprinkle with additional chopped peanuts if desired. Cut into squares. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

This recipe is so simple and almost impossible to mess up… it became an instant favorite of mine and I usually make it at least once during the holidays. For an extra tasteful treat, substitute crunchy peanut butter for the creamy in your peanut butter fudge. This gives you the kick of peanuts and pecans. Oh, my mouth is watering now just thinking about it. I may just have to pick up some peanut butter fudge on my way out of the door today.

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Tanner’s Pecan is owned and operated by Danny Fox and Michelle Parks and offers great peanut butter fudge. Visit Tanner’s Pecans today for the best selection of Peanut Butter Fudge and Pecans.