Well, I made a second batch of chocolate fudge using roughly the same recipe (minus the butter), and discovered that I’d made an error in the first batch! I misread it as 1000g of sugar where it should have been 2000g of sugar. So I had halved the sugar in the recipe by accident – no wonder it came out so rich and creamy!
By comparison, the chocolate ginger fudge is not nearly as creamy, but still has nice texture and good (though not as richly chocolate) flavor. I haven’t yet decided whether to keep it or to do a “retake”. Probably the former since it’s still an excellent fudge, and I don’t have time to be completely perfectionist about it. So I will pack it into boxes today, in between making other batches of fudge.
For future recipes, I believe I will cut the sugar to 1500g and re-add the butter to produce a richer, creamier fudge.
One thing this does point up, however, is how flexible and adaptable candy recipes really are. I used to follow recipes slavishly and fret about changing things, but now that I understand more about the food chemistry I take recipes as more of a starting-point for improvisation. You don’t need absolute precision unless you are starting a candy business and really need reproducible results. I’m still working on perfecting my fudge recipe (and I do believe in calculating things to get better control of the results), but as with most things, once you understand the rules, you can improvise freely.
Next on the agenda are the coconut fudges. Coconut-tequila-lime fudge, and coconut almond fudge. The first was the product of divine inspiration a year or two ago – I have no idea what inspired me to add tequila to coconut fudge, considering that I don’t even like tequila, or what convinced me that lime would be just the thing to finish it off. (Perhaps I was thinking of a coconut margarita?) But it works REALLY well, and was one of my favorite fudges last year. The coconut almond fudge I think of as being a high-class Almond Joy – coconut fudge with chopped almonds, dipped in chocolate with an almond on top. Not a novel pairing, but boy does it taste good! I bought the almonds at the farmer’s market earlier this week, where they are of MUCH higher quality than in the supermarket or Trader Joe’s (perhaps because they’re fresher).
After that there are two other nice fudges: lavender-Meyer lemon-white chocolate and cinnamon coffee white chocolate. I really liked those two last year and want to do a reprise.
I always feel somewhat guilty about including so many fudges considering most people are into chocolate bonbons, but they are excellent (and I do mean excellent) fudges, I enjoy making them, and unlike bonbons they can be made 1-2 weeks ahead without harming the quality (as long as they’re stored airtight so they don’t dry out). I am invariably pressed for time during the last four days of chocolate season, as chocolate bonbons are fussy and take a lot of time – so including some fudges not only increases the variety of chocolates, but saves me from pulling my hair out towards the end of the week. And the fudges do have their fans. So, I include them.
It’s still early in the morning and Mike is still asleep, so I’m going to run off and do some calculations. The white chocolate fudges won’t have the same chemistry as the dark chocolate (less cocoa butter, more milk fat, no cocoa, and slightly less fat overall) so I need to look up the percentages and see if I can come up with a base recipe for testing. Last year I completely “winged it” and while I liked the flavor of the fudge, it came out a trifle too soft for my tastes. I may add some extra cocoa butter to firm it up a little, and boil it to a higher temperature.
Whee! This is so much fun. I rarely get to experiment with candy since I don’t eat the stuff. This annual production is not just a thank you to my sponsors, it’s a priceless opportunity to play in the kitchen!