Saturday, December 15, 2012

Irish Cream Fudge

You may remember that Christmastime = candytime in the Bailey house.  It's a very calorie intensive time, because you know I gots to test it all.  Can't give something away to your loved ones if you haven't verified its tastiness, you know.  And since it's the only time of the year that I make candy, I feel the need to make AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.  I really can't even help myself.  Last year I totally ran out of people to feed it to and was still cranking out fudges and brittles, just for the experience.  Some of it was in our fridge for months.  It all keeps really well, but neither of us needed to be randomly eating fudge for weeks on end.  Luckily this year Marc is back to a "real" Army unit and I have a whole battalion to feed, if I want. 

When some people cook (see: my blogging partner, Laura) they just throw things together as they go, relying on their intuition and creativity to pull a dish out of thin air.  I have a lot of admiration for those people.  Those who are good at it can make some of the yummiest things you've ever had.  But that's not how I operate.  I have developed a lot of cooking intuition, don't get me wrong, but I am a scientist in my heart and in my kitchen.  I measure almost everything.  I set the timer constantly, and I take the readings of my thermometer as gospel.  

So when it comes to something as precise (and potentially dangerous) as candymaking, I don't fly by the seat of my pants; I follow a set of rules:  

Rule #1 - Be safe.  This is the most important.  I like to think I'm not a safety lame-o, but you can really hurt yourself or someone else with boiling hot sugar, so I don't mess around with it.  Even though I am careful, I burned the crap out of my finger this year on 320 degree peanut brittle.  Not fun.  My blisters remain long after the brittle is gone.  
Rule #2 - This kind of goes along with rule #1, but pay attention to what you're doing.  Know thyself.  Know what your distractions are and make sure you find a way to mitigate them.  For example, if you're like me, you may not want to try to make buttercrunch while watching soccer.  Otherwise you boil your mixture right past that 300 degree mark while you're busy watching Ozil send a perfect cross into the box for Cristiano Ronaldo to score.  No, I've never done it.  I'm just sayin'.  
Rule #3 - Use really good ingredients.  Crappy chocolate makes crappy fudge.  What?  There's no such thing as crappy chocolate?  Ok, you may have a point.  But this much is true: really good chocolate makes really good fudge.  Lower quality chocolate does not melt as nicely and certainly doesn't taste as complex.  
Rule #4 - Prep everything first.  Otherwise you end up with a pot-ful of something burning hot and no buttered pan to spread it into.  FAIL.  
Rule #5 - Use a much bigger pot than you think you need.  Boiling sugar mixtures tend to bubble up furiously.  
Rule #6 - Use a thermometer.  Always.  Our cooking ancestors had a handle on that thing where you put a drop of the hot sugar mixture into a glass of water to see if it was at the soft ball or hard crack stage, or whatever.  There is no reason to do that now because there are these things called thermometers, and they are (usually) very accurate.

Given that we now have a set of rules, let's break one, shall we?  I make this fudge every year because it's so easy.  It also has a lovely boozy taste, and you know this girl is in favor of that.  I don't know what the magic is with this recipe and I cannot remember where it came from so I'm not sure who to thank, but you don't need a thermometer.  You just bring the sugar mixture to a low boil and stir the hell out of it for a while, then pour it over the chocolate chips to melt them, and spread it in a pan.  Done.  It's like I can forget everything I know about candymaking!!!  Except I'm still going to use the good chocolate.

Irish Cream Fudge

My recipe notes that you should store this fudge in the refrigerator, and I normally do, but it does fairly well at room temp, too.  I've shipped it to friends and family before and it traveled just fine.  I left out the nuts this year because one of my recipients doesn't care for nuts in desserts, and since he is deployed and has to be away from his family for Christmas, he gets what he likes.  It was still very good without them.

24 oz. milk chocolate chips
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
14 oz. marshmallow creme
2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup Irish cream liqueur, such as Bailey's
2 cups chopped nuts (optional)
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
12 oz. can evaporated milk
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)

Line a 10" x 15" x 1" pan with heavy duty foil and rub the foil with one of the sticks of butter.  In a large, heavy bowl, add all the chocolate chips, marshmallow creme, vanilla, Irish cream and nuts.

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, milk and butter over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down until the mixture is at a low boil and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.  This seems like a long time when you are stirring, but don't skimp on this part.

Pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate chip mixture and stir until everything is melted together.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and chill until set.  Turn out onto a large cutting board, peel the foil off the back and cut into small squares.  Or, be lazy like me and let people cut pieces off of a big chunk.



  1. Sallie, this fudge sounds heavenly. If you don't have any coconut oil, get some. It's in the cooking oil section at grocery stores, now. It's solid at room temp, but melts very easily. It's a natural anti-fungal, -biotic, and -inflammatory. Rub it on burns and they practically disappear. Cuts, scrapes, infections, dog boo-boos and ringworm. It's the miracle cure for everything. You can even cook with it. I put some on a plate and let the cats lick it, just because it's good for them. I hope I haven't sent you this already.

    Merry Christmas to you and Marc. Do you have time off for visiting this year or just staying home? It was great seeing your parents a couple weeks ago. Barring ice or snow, we're heading to Chicago on Saturday.

    1. Coconut oil, eh? I think I would be licking my fingers! :)

      Merry Christmas back to you and John. I hope you have a wonderful time at Laura's and that the weather cooperates. We are staying in KY this year for Christmas and my family is coming here. Marc wanted to host Christmas while we were living in this house, and next year he will be deployed by now, so we're doing it this year. Love to you guys!