Thursday, July 28, 2005

Duck Fudge Revisited II

As you all know, I’m a great fan of fudge. I’ve even posted a recipe (Duck Fudge) that helps the new or inconsistent fudge maker get it right every time. In that post I encouraged everyone to experiment with their recipe. That is why, in the spirit of "doing as I say...", I must report an experiment that FAILED! Let me give you the whole story.

Hershey's Special Dark chocolate hits a particular sweet tooth that just cannot be satisfied by another flavor. Recently my sister sent a full can of Special Dark cocoa. I was so excited I shed three tail feathers as I opened the package! I have never seen it in stores (maybe it's available where you live) but she had picked it up in Hershey, PA. What a treat! You can bet that your friendly ignited drake waddled off to make a batch of "Special Dark" fudge as quickly as possible. I gathered the sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla and corn syrup from the pantry and placed them on the counter. My measuring cups and spoons joined the ingredients. Then I opened the refrigerator to a most horrible sight. I had only 5 1/2 tablespoons of butter left!

After yelling at the ducklings for using my REAL BUTTER on their cinnamon toast (sheesh!), I had a decision to make, either postpone the fudge batch a full 24 hours until I could get more butter or risk using slightly less in the recipe and using a spray non-stick coating (PAM) on the dish. Considering that I had just sacrificed three tails feathers, I choose the latter.

Everything went well. The dry ingredients blended well. The wet ingredients were added without a problem. The mixture heated without burning and the boiling occurred just as in previous successful batches. The temperature hit exactly 235 degrees, which is where I like my fudge. The batch cooled without being disturbed and the beating of the batch all went according to plan. Even when pouring the mixture into the greased dish, nothing seemed amiss.

The problem is that it never really hardened. The only clue that I have is that the edges seem to have remained "looser" than the middle. Not quite syrupy loose but loose enough that you can't take out a finger full without it slumping into the open space.

There were three variables that I changed; the new cocoa, the slightly less butter and the PAM on the dish. I can't imagine that the cocoa had anything to do with it. The lack of butter may have contributed but I think the major culprit was the PAM. PAM is a vegetable oil based spray. My guess is the oil seeped into the edges of the batch and prevented it from setting. Conclusion to this experiment? Vegetable oil based cooking spray is NOT an acceptable substitute for greasing a fudge dish. Use butter only!

Bummer! Now we have to eat a whole batch of fudge with spoons. But it gives me a good excuse to make another batch!