I send you my warmest, sweetest Christmas wishes with this unbelievably delicious fudge recipe.
Pretty soon, I think I just might add "over-complication of simple matters" to my resume. Yup. Mhm. Very serious about that. Is it a skill? Probably not. Is it a weakness? It might be, but I'm trying to convince myself it has its benefits, too. As part of the health-conscious blogger community and the baking blogger community, I sit in the intersection of those - a quite interesting place to be. Not completely devoted to either, I can watch both from the sidelines of each at the same time (thanks to modern technology and social media, that is).
From the health-conscious community I think I've gained my over-complication skill. A recipe catches my eye and I just cannot seem to cook/bake it as is because why in the world would I use half-and-half when I can try coconut milk? Or why wouldn't I try replacing the flour in brownies with black beans? Or why not give gluten-free waffles a shot, eh? I'm a dare-devil in my kitchen - what can I say?
Then, from the baker blogging community, I think I've sharpened my knowledge of necessity. Do these waffles really need to be made sans gluten? Or what's the consistency of a traditional brownie versus a black bean brownie? Or do the properties of coconut milk really produce the same texture/flavor as half-and-half? I'm also a big-time nerd in my kitchen (and everywhere else, too) - what can I say?
I'm sitting on my couch right now, trying to catch up on Christmas movies before I need to wait 350-some more days to do so next year, but I feel like I'm sitting in the intersection of Health Conscious Avenue and Baker Street with a tray of this fudge just waiting for a passerby to whom I can share with and hopefully grab their attention to explain whyyyyyyy I've chosen to keep this recipe the way it is.
Well, guess what! YOU are that passerby, so here goes. Think of your mom's or grandma's or aunt's traditional fudge recipe - rich, sweet, creamy, and melt-in-your-mouth-y. Right? Most fudge recipes call for condensed milk, cocoa powder, corn syrup, etc. In other words, things I don't have in my pantry and don't create enough recipes that call for such ingredients to buy each just for fudge. Not that you aren't worth that, fudge, but you know - college-budget and all. And because I know a lot of you come to me from a similar college-budget position...
... in which case we turn our eyes to Health Conscious Ave. and see full-fat coconut milk looking like a fannnnnntastic substitution for condensed milk. The latter is just milk that's been partially dehydrated and combined with sugar. The former is, well, milk from coconuts. So, let's turn to Baker Street and consider whether or not the sugar in the milk is necessary. If we're going with a hunk of completely unsweetened chocolate, then that sugar is a good idea. If we're going with a hunk of semi-sweet chocolate, then that sugar isn't quite essential, making the coconut milk a fine substitution.
And as for the corn syrup, it doesn't serve much purpose other than to prevent sugar from crystalizing. Since we aren't adding sugar here... you do the math.
I sincerely hope my brief explosions of nerdy baking science + health-conscious updates don't bore you. If they do, let me know. I might not stop writing them, but at least I'll understand my audience a bit more. :) Enjoy the fudge and soak up Christmas!
Makes about 10-12 squares
1 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut oil
a handful each of:
crushed candy canes
chopped nuts (I used cashews)
sea salt, for sprinkling
Melt the first three ingredients in a double-boiler until smooth, stirring continuously to prevent burning.
Pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper (don't skip this step!). Sprinkle the pretzels, candy canes, and chopped nuts on top. Finish with sea salt.
Freeze for one hour or refrigerate for three until the fudge is firm. Pull the parchment paper out of the loaf pan and cut fudge into squares. Serve immediately and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge - it will melt after an hour or so at room temperature.