Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mardi Gras

"Julia and Betsy . . . observed Lent rigorously for a time. Julia gave up dancing, a sacrifice Betsy could not very well make as the Crowd had not yet started going to dances. She equaled it, however; she gave up candy; she gave up fudge." Heaven to Betsy

There are nine mentions of fudge in Heaven to Betsy, so you know how important it was to Maud Hart Lovelace, but even before I brought the Betsy-Tacy books home for the whole family to read, my mother always gave up candy for Lent, and it was a tradition that we made fudge on Mardi Gras. To me that was just as important (not to mention religious) element of the Easter season as anything! We always used the recipe from the Mystery Chef, a popular radio cooking host from the 40s to whom my grandmother used to listen - long before the Cooking Channel was envisioned.

Homemade Fudge

Ingredients:

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease an 8 by 8-inch pie plate with butter. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, chocolate, and milk. Over medium heat, stir until sugar is dissolved and chocolate is melted. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 6 minutes, add butter, simmer for another 6 minutes. Begin testing a tiny spoonful in a custard or tea cup of cold water as mixture continues to cook. It may take several times before it forms a soft ball. Remove from heat, cool until it's just barely hot, add vanilla and beat until well-blended and the shiny texture becomes matte. Pour into the prepared pan. Let sit in cool dry area until firm.

Don't put the fudge outside to cool or those Deep Valley boys might swipe it!

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