Still perfecting the Strawberry Dark Chocolate Fudge. Shaped into hearts with the help of cupcake liners and cookie cutters.
So several weeks ago I made two batches of Strawberry Chocolate fudge. I started out last Christmas making this for my boss and the recipe has evolved. The first batch I made (try #3 and not pictured) was a different ratio and turned out really ugly ( not shiny) but tasted fine. This batch turned out pretty and tasted really good. Upon first inspection I declared it the best fudge I’ve ever made. I’ve eaten far more pieces now than I am going to admit and I think it could use further tweaks before being “perfect”. I think it could still be a tad firmer. I’d like to try adding in another bag of the dark chocolate chips. I still think it needs more strawberry flavor. I tried to solve this problem in a few ways as I tweak the recipe. At first I used the dried strawberries but they made parts of the fudge kinda crunchy, it was no bueno on the mouth feel. I still think the dried berries have more flavor though. In the cherry fudge I use cherry icing and it is perfect. The closest thing I have found to strawberry icing is the new mix your own flavor stuff. I am considering buying just the flavor packet and using it next time. I am terribly critical of my cooking. I promise it’s good fudge 🙂
All the ingredients are above. This time I used:
1 can Dark Chocolate frosting
I can Milk Chocolate Frosting
1 big (23 oz) bag milk chocolate chips
1 bag 13oz Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate chips 60% cocoa
1.5 Tbs Strawberry extract
.5 Tbs Vanilla Extract
1 14 oz can Sweetened condensed milk
2.5-3 bags dried (chewy) strawberries ( I want to say these are 2-3 ounces each and have about 3/4 cup of fruit in them)
How to Make:
So in order to experiment further with getting the berry flavor in I dumped all the dried berries into a big non stick skillet and added in just enough water to get them a little wet. I simmered this mix until almost all of the water evaporated. I was attempting to soften up the fruit a little further and perhaps release some of the flavor into liquid form. I have to be very careful here because too much water will screw with the consistency and look of your fudge. raise your hand if you’ve ever had a water + chocolate cooking disaster. It’s no bueno. Also be careful not to cook the berries to hot or too quickly for several reasons. 1. You are not trying to boil them, if they get too soft and mushy it isn’t good 2. If you get your pan too hot it can scorch your chips and make your fudge ugly, it has to cool before you add the chocolate chips in. If you forget this cool down step, like I did, there will be many minutes of fretting that you’ve ruined the look of the whole batch. IF YOU GET ANY OF THE CHOCOLATE IN THE RECIPE TOO HOT IT WILL TURN INTO A LUMPY, UGLY , but still good tasting, MESS!!!! The key to making this fudge “well”, it all comes from a bag or can for God’s sake but it can still be effed up, is to watch the heat, stir often and work with it as little as possible.
Ok, now that I am off that soap box, you should have a nice warm but not hot pan of soft but not gooshy, syrupy but not too wet dried strawberries. If reading all this nonsense about strawberry prep has you tired never fear. If you were smart enough to read the recipe before starting you can say. “ Lola, that’s cray” ,and dump the 2.5-3 bags of berries into the pan, turn it on low and try to break up any clumps with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Dump the chocolate chips bags in and let them melt slowly while stirring so none of it gets burned on the bottom.
Dump in the two can of frosting and stir them in you want the concoction smooth and easy to mix around.
Add in the strawberry and vanilla extracts and stir in the can of sweetened condensed milk.
The addition of the milk is what gives the fudge the slightly creamier texture and the nice pretty shine. Sometimes I add in the milk before I put in the frosting, but you don’t want to do it too early or you can lose the benefits of the texture and shine by cooking it too much or too hot.
At this point I turn off the pan and begin to use a pampered chef scoop to dole it out into cupcake liners. If if started to get too cool I turned the heat on low and gently stirred for a few minutes until I got the creamy texture I needed for scooping. Freeze fudge for a few hours and then bag up as you like. Works best kept in freezer or fridge until just before serving. Obviously thaw a bit if frozen before eating for best flavor, I can never seem to wait that long.
This batch easily makes 100+ mini muffin size baking cups worth of fudge.
A note on presentation options. This time I ran out of leftover mini cups, it was just a batch for teachers and friends so no elaborate matching liner and bag color scheme needed, I used normal sized cupcake liners. In the past I have also dumped it in a pan and cut it later on a cutting board with a knife while it is still frozen. All methods suck at some level, I’m pretty sure I said that in the cherry recipe. So pick your poison.
Last night i made my 4th attempt at Strawberry Chocolate Fudge. The others batches have all been OK, but not superb this time I think I nailed it. Recipe and instructions to come. Meanwhile I will leave you this little lesson learned, do not put fudge in your mini muffin tin with no liners, even a pampered chef non stick mini muffin pan would not let go of that stuff! At least the kids enjoyed eating the “leftovers” after I finally got the fudge out. Also using larger cupcake liners allows for huge pieces of fudge and gave me some ideas for layering options I might try for Christmas. The teachers got the fudge this morning and the emails indicate it’s great fudge.
Happy Friday Lovies! Thanks again for indulging me in scaling back the writing for the holidays. It’s been crazy over here. Work end of year go-live shenanigans abound. House is decorated, post to come I promise. Mini Boobs made me a crap ton of bows for my DIY greenery swags this year and they look fabulous. Cards have been sent and presents are planned. The first big holiday party at the Lola house for the season is tomorrow, my Bad Gurls are coming! Every year for more than a few I have made fudge for gifts and parties. this started when I got invited to one of those Holiday Cookie Exchange parties and I don’t bake. I’ve talked about this before, baking is too exact for me. I can do it, but I much more enjoy something like fudge which is more about ratios and fiddling, like normal cooking. Plus technically fudge is kind of like making a sauce, and I love making sauces! This year we headed to Trader Joe’s to gather most of our ingredients. My first fudge obligation was the Division meeting at work on Tuesday. Saturday night The Husband and I attended the work Casino Christmas Party. Shorty helped me shop via pic texting. We chose well, I felt great. the Husband looked great and we had an absolute blast. I parked my butt at the craps table all night and turned in $4500 in chips at the end of the night. It wasn’t enough to win the top 3 prizes but i got my fix in a BIG way! can’t wait until next year! We got home quite late and I got up early on Sunday ready to tackle the fudge. Five hours later, with help, I was done! We are all set for gifts and parties this year.
Cherry Chocolate Almond Fudge
I can’t really take full credit for this recipe. It started out as the Pampered Chef easy 5 minute fudge recipe a few years ago and over the years I have adapted it to where it stands today. For each single batch this is what you need. I make it in triple batches at a time so I can just dump the whole can of sweetened condensed milk in. Plus last year I tried making all 7 batches at once at though it turned out ok, it was a mixing nightmare.
1 12oz bag of chips. I mixed dark and semi-sweet and a ratio of 1 dark to 2 semi sweet.
1 can Betty Crocker frosting of your choice, I prefer the ones with Hersheys in them. I mixed dark and milk and cherry to make the 3 cans for the triple batch
1/2 cup slivered almonds. More or less depending on your taste.
1/3-2/3 cups dried cherries. More or less depending on your taste. I mixed Bing and Montmerency
1tsp almond or vanilla extract
1/3 can sweetened condensed milk. This adds shiny smoothness and I forgot it in the first batch, which was not as pretty but tasted just the same. It strictly a for looks thing.
Start by turning your stove on low to medium low, it is VERY important to DO NOT over heat this or it will get gritty and yucky. Gently melt and stir all the frosting together first. Once that is done stir in the chips until they are melted.
While chocolate is melting I place the almonds and cherries toegther in a glass bowl and kind of mix them up with my hands. then I microwaved the mixture in 3 bursts of 30 seconds each, stirring in between. this heats up the nuts and cherries and starts the release of the natural oils in both. This makes for yummier fudge and allows you to get it from pan to freezer faster.
Once your frosting and chips are properly melted, but not overcooked, I dump in the add-ins, sweetened condensed milk and extract. Stir a little bit more and you are ready to get it out of the pan.
You have a couple of choices here. There is the dump in multiple pans, freeze and then break your wrist cutting huge rows of fudge later method. Or this year I had the brilliant idea that I would make the fudge “prettier” by scooping it into mini muffin cups. I’m not going to lie to you, both of these methods suck for huge amounts of fudge. However I am sticking to the scooping method from now on. I used the Pampered Chef little metal scoop with the metal sweeper thingy that helps you get it out. If you choose this method it is best to turn off the heat and let it cool a bit before you start scooping. Each triple batch makes roughly 150 pieces of fudge in mini muffin cups. By the end I made The Husband do the scooping because my right wrist was shot. The kids had friends over and the girls helped with the fudge transfer. I also think I ended up using every available pan in the house and a few from the neighbors for staging the cups into the freezer. It took almost all my big Tupperware to house the end results.
6 pieces is roughly a 1/4 pound of fudge.
Strawberry Chocolate Fudge
My Boss teasingly asked if I was making strawberry for her instead of cherry. So I decided to find some strawberries and give it a try. I found a bag at trader Joe’s of dried ones and used them. I just dumped the whole bag in. It’s ok, but next time I’m going to chop them up in smaller pieces and re-hydrate them a tiny bit. You don’t want too much additional liquid. I was hoping the mixture would soften them up a bit, and it did but not as much as I would of liked. It was also the very last batch and 5 hours past when I started. I;m still on the fence if this batch is good enough to give her, so if I give it a take 2 I will report back with the results.
Here are the pics. Enjoy!!!