Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Grandmother's Homemade Rocky Road Fudge

My grandfather had a sweet tooth and my grandmother had no problems indulging it.

Visiting my grandparent's house each Christmas was a kid's fantasy with treats everywhere. Some were easy to spot, fancifully-shaped ribbon candy displayed in a glass apothecary jar, melt-in-your-mouth butter mints and chocolate nonpareils set out in crystal dishes. Others, such as my grandfather's favorite peanut brittle, were carefully concealed from grubby little hands, though I always knew his favorite hiding spot (built-in pine cabinet to the left of the fireplace).

None of these store bought candies, however, could compete with my grandmother's homemade rocky road fudge. Hers was the classic sweetened condensed milk version (shown to the left), with chocolate melted in a double boiler on the range. Yet she wasn't content unless she made the recipe her own with dark chocolate instead of milk, giant marshmallows instead of mini, and walnuts from her own tree in the backyard. At Christmas, she added crushed peppermints.

I may not have a walnut tree, but I've since added my own distinct twist to the recipe with the addition of dried cherries. I've also discovered that a microwave is much easier to use than a double boiler, with less clean up.

Rocky Road Fudge with Dried Cherries and Crushed Peppermint

1 package (12-oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips    
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups marshmallows (about 1/2 of a 16 oz. bag)*
1 1/2 cups walnuts, broken in pieces
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

Lightly grease a 19 x 13 inch baking pan (glass is best) and set aside. Some recipes suggest a foil liner as well, but I've never used one.

Melt together the chocolate chips and condensed milk in a microwave-safe bowl large enough to later accommodate the other ingredients. Microwave for one minute on high (oven wattages vary, so you may need to adjust timing). Stir in the vanilla and continue heating for short bursts of 10 to 20 seconds, checking each time, until the chocolate is just melted.

Fold in the remaining ingredients and press mixture into greased baking pan (careful, melted chocolate will be hot!). Refrigerate until cooled and ready to serve. Cut into squares. Keep leftovers refrigerated.

*For a gourmet touch, substitute chopped Belgian chocolate and check out the better grocery stores in your area for handmade marshmallows. Whole Foods often has these in their baked goods section at holiday time.

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