Gramma Eddie’s Fudge Candy

This lovely confection is amazingly smooth and creamy. Gramma (that’s how we spell it in our family) and my parents always poured it onto waxed paper and made logs out of it. I recently started pouring it into pans just to make it a bit easier on me. Plus I like the more uniform edges when it comes to cutting it. 

I only remember my parents making the fudge without any additions, except, perhaps, occasionally nuts. I divide the candy into three portions and make one “original” or plain, one with walnuts, and a third with a touch of peanut butter. This year I cut the peanut butter fudge into squares to make it easier to tell the difference between that and the original.

Enjoy the recipe and please let me know if you make it. I would love to know how it works out for you!

Five-Pound Fudge Candy

  • 13 oz. Hershey’s Chocolate Bar
  • 3 C. Chocolate Chips
  • 1 jar Marshmallow Creme
  • 1 can Evaporated Milk
  • 4.5 C. Sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • Vanilla

Mix sugar and milk in a large, heavy pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to keep from burning. After mixture comes to a boil, cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, break up chocolate bar into a large, heat-proof bowl; add chocolate chips. Pour hot mixture over chocolate and beat until smooth. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla (about 1 tsp.); mix well. Pour onto waxed paper, roll, and refrigerate until set.

If you want the whole batch with nuts or peanut butter, you can add them at the same time as the marshmallow creme. I divide the candy into thirds by using small pans. First I pour about one pound (yes, I use a scale) into a small loaf pan that has been greased with butter. Then I add some nuts to two small buttered loaf pans, and pour about a pound of fudge into each pan. Then I mix those up to distribute the nuts. Finally, I add some peanut butter to what remains in the bowl/pan and pour that into a small 8 x 8 dish. 

Another tip: I pour the chocolate directly into the pan when it’s time rather than trying to heft the large, hot pan. And I usually add the marshmallow creme, mix that in, then add the chocolate. Not sure why, it’s just the way I’ve done it for some years.

I’ve noticed it’s almost impossible to find the 13 oz. Hershey bars anymore. I usually buy two smaller 7 oz. bars and use those – all 14 oz. At lease, what doesn’t go into my mouth while I’m waiting for the boiling phase. 

Merry Christmas and enjoy!

Lou’s English Toffee

 

English Toffee

  • 2 C. Butter (no substitutes)
  • 2 C. Sugar
  • 2 Tbs. White Corn Syrup
  • 6 Tbs. Water
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 lb. Semi-sweet Chocolate, melted
  • 2 C. Walnuts or Almonds, chopped very fine

In a large, heavy pan, over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add sugar, corn syrup, and water; stir until sugar dissolves. Cook very slowly to 310 degrees on a candy thermometer, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile using butter, grease bottom and sides of a jelly-roll pan. When toffee reaches 310 degrees, add vanilla, stir well, and pour into buttered pan.

Allow toffee to cool, then gently wipe the surface of candy with a clean paper towel to remove excess butter/oil. Pour melted chocolate onto candy and spread evenly over entire surface. Immediately sprinkle nuts over top and press down slightly to help nuts adhere.

When chocolate is set, break toffee into large pieces.

**This recipe comes from my Grandma Eddie (so named because her great-granddaughter could not say “Nellie”), who got it from her neighbor, Lou. I have fond memories of Grandma’s ‘backdoor’ neighbor. But I have even fonder memories of my own mother, Susan (Grandma Suey – for the same reason) making dozens of batches of this wonderful candy. It was Mom who truly perfected this recipe and has shared all the tips and tricks she uses to make it perfect. Although I suspect many of you, like me, may find that you can never make it quite like Mom’s.

One final note, Mom says not to make English Toffee on a rainy day; the candy will not set.

Have fun and let me know if you try it!

Perpetual Vanilla Extract

I recently saw a video by Ina Garten on making homemade vanilla extract. She showed a jar with the most beautiful brown liquid in it and claimed she has kept that bottle of vanilla going for thirty years. THIRTY years!! That’s almost as long as I’ve been married! I like things that last. Plus, has anybody else noticed that vanilla is suddenly even more outrageously priced than ever??

Disclaimer: There are several product/store mentions and suggestions with at least one direct link. None of these are sponsored and I receive no kickbacks for anything mentioned. It’s just me, sharing my opinion and research.

My favorite bottle of vanilla extract at Costco is currently $34.99. I don’t drink alcohol, so I had no idea how much vodka would cost, but I figured there is no way the ingredients to make vanilla extract (vanilla beans and said vodka) – and factoring in how long it lasts – can be less cost-effective than that tiny bottle.

I did a little research at Winco and Costco. I did not bargain-hunt or shop at my local grocer. I am a working woman and my time is just as important as costs, but I didn’t want to just buy the first, expensive thing either. I figured between Winco and Costco, I’d have a pretty good idea of the range of costs and quality of products at most of my local grocery resources.

I started at Costco. They had a large bottle of vodka for $12.99. I have a 1.5-pint mason jar  (24 oz.)to put the vanilla in, so I figured with that bottle of vodka, I could make three or four jars. Cool concept if I had thought ahead about Christmas presents (it’s best to let the vanilla extract sit about six months before use), but I hadn’t. The vanilla beans at Costco are $15.99 for five beans. That’s about $3.20 per bean.

Then I headed next door to Winco. The vanilla beans there were $9.81 for two. Yes, TWO. Which made their beans about $4.91 per bean. So, at this point, Costco definitely won the vanilla bean war.

As for the vodka, I found a smaller – but still large enough – bottle for $5.40. My research showed that as long as it’s at least 80 proof, any vodka will do.

We bought the vodka at Winco and then headed back over to Costco for two vials of vanilla beans – plus a couple of other things; it IS Costco, people! Besides we had walked back and forth between the two stores so we needed snacks. 😉

I happened to have a vial of vanilla beans I had purchased at Winco a couple of months ago for some homemade vanilla bean ice cream that never happened, so once I got home I did a quick comparison of beans:

Ummmm…. Wha….??? The straight across cost comparison between Winco and Costco just got a whole lot more complicated. Or simpler, depending on your point of view. For me, once I saw the difference in quality, The Costco won again. Praise to The Costco…

Technically you want between 12 and 24 vanilla beans per jar of extract. I had three beans at home already (the Winco vials use to have three, but now only have two), so I purchased two vials from Costco. That gave me a total of 13 beans. I plan to add a few more in a couple of weeks – after my budget recovers from the initial set up.

The actual process for making the extract is ridiculously simple. First, you add the beans to a clean jar…

Make sure the jar is tall enough to handle the beans without bending or breaking them. You also want enough room between the lid and the beans so that the beans can be completely covered in the vodka.

Then, pour in the vodka…

Add enough vodka to cover the vanilla beans.

Cover tightly, label and store in your pantry.

That’s it!

If I factor in the cost of the jar, it cost just over $40 to get my vanilla extract start going.  I have a bit of vodka left over to top off the jar as I use it. That gives me 24 oz. of vanilla extract for $40. My favorite extract at Costco that currently costs $34.99 has 16 oz. in it. I’ve already saved some money! And everything I’ve read said the flavor is incredible. I’ll keep you posted on that. Better yet, try it yourself and let me know how it goes.

While you technically can use homemade vanilla extract after aging for as little as one month, every source I read said to wait at least six months for full flavor. After that, you can not only use the extract itself, but you can snip off the end of the beans and squeeze out the seeds, as needed. I’m super excited for that first batch of Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream this summer!

Reminder: There are several product/store mentions and suggestions with at least one direct link. None of these are sponsored and I receive no kickbacks for anything mentioned. It’s just me, sharing my opinion and research.

Simple Salsa Rojo

This Salsa Rojo has been a staple in our family for more than thirty years and has been my most requested recipe by far. Surprisingly simple, yet super tasty and versatile for those who want to add their own “secret ingredient” (read: jalapeno for a little heat, or green onion for a fresh spring flavor). I pretty much just keep a batch of this in the fridge at all times so we can use it on scrambled eggs in the morning, chicken nachos for lunch, and fish tacos for dinner. And it’s so much better than those usually too-sweet bottle sauces you get at the grocery. Give it a try!

Cori’s Simple Salsa Rojo

1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles (Hatch is best)
1 lime
1 bunch cilantro
1 tsp. salt, or to taste

Add tomatoes and green chiles to bowl of a food processor or blender. Add juice of one lime up to approximately 1 tablespoon. Rinse leaves of cilantro and roughly chop top half of bunch; add to bowl. Add 1 tsp. salt. Pulse salsa 3 – 5 times to chop cilantro and incorporate ingredients together. Taste salsa and adjust ingredients as desired.

Enjoy!

Hot Cocoa Mix

Few things warm our souls when the weather gets chilly like a cup of Hot Cocoa. We’ve had a hard time finding a pre-made mix that we like; they’re often too sweet for us. We love dark chocolate and, therefore, we want our hot cocoa to have a good, rich, chocolate taste. This Hot Cocoa Mix, which is a variation of several I’ve found out there on the ‘Net, fits the bill just perfectly for us.Gourmet Cocoa

Hot Cocoa Mix

2 1/2 – 3 C. powdered sugar
1 C. cocoa (Dutch-process is great, if you have it)
2 – 1/2 C. nonfat instant milk (I only use the kind with super fine grain texture)
1 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

To make Hot Cocoa:

Add 3 heaping spoonfuls (to taste) to mug. Add hot water (or milk, if you want it super rich), stir and enjoy!

We like to add crushed peppermint, whipped cream, Andes candy bits, or marshmallow cream to our hot cocoa.

Yield: about 6 cups dry mix