December 15, 2007

Peppermint Bark Fudge

14 oz sweetened condensed milk
12 oz high quality semisweet chocolate chips*
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup peppermint pieces (about 4 candy canes)**

Directions:In shallow, heavy pot, heat the butter and chips over low heat until melted. Stir to occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the condensed milk and candy canes until the mixture is smooth and uniform. Pour into a buttered 8x8 inch baking dish and allow to cool 15 minutes. Then refrigerate the fudge for 2 hours or up to overnight. Unmold (if it sticks, run the point of a knife along all four sides and slide a thin spatula underneath to remove) and cut into 1 inch squares. Store at room temperature in an air tight container.

Yield: roughly 40 squares

*Since chocolate is the focus here, using good chips is essential. I used Guittard which melts well and seems to have less additives to hold the "chip" shape than other brands.
**I hit the candy canes with something heavy while they are still in the wrapper to crush them without creating a sticky mess or having to use a separate plastic bag.

Note: I do recommend storing anything made with peppermint in a separate container from anything else because over time, the mint flavor will permeate other foods. When giving candy or cookies as gifts, I always pack anything with peppermint candy, chips or extract in a separate tightly sealed bag or container.

My thoughts
I created this recipe as sort of an homage to peppermint bark. Mostly creamy dark chocolate, the fudge is studded with bits of candy cane. Even people who are not too fond of peppermint like this fudge, the peppermint flavor isn't overwhelming and the candy bits add an interesting texture contrast. If you are a candy cane fanatic, you might want to increase the amount of candy used, but I wouldn't add more than 1 or 2 additional canes or the fudge gets too chunky and chewy.

There are many different ways to make fudge and this is one of the easiest. I used to make fudge the more involved way with sugar, hand chopped chocolate, corn syrup and heavy cream but years ago I did a taste test and it turned out that people liked the flavor and texture of chocolate fudge made with condensed milk just as much or more than the more time consuming fudge. I do use different methods when I make other flavors of fudge but for this one, this recipe is just right.