Last night, as I was getting in bed, it dawned on me. Real butter. That’s why the fudge I made yesterday was absolutely perfect, melt-in-your-mouth, delicious. Hmm. Was it really? Yep. Perfect. Definitely much better than ANY of the fifty or so times I made it as a child.
How is it better? Well, it’s creamier, fudgier, not a hint of graininess.
What did I do different? Well, come to think of it, not once in all those times I made it as a child would I have ever thought to have used real butter.
I’m looking at the recipe now. To be fair, it does say “butter or margarine.” You only use two tablespoons, and you don’t even cook with it. You mix in the butter right after you finish cooking. Then you let it cool. Then when it’s cooler, you vigorously mix in vanilla until it turns into fudge.
Now, my fudge was always close to perfect — just on the grainy side. But isn’t it just possible that margarine didn’t quite blend right with the sugar/milk mixture and melted and rehardened just a little grainy, as opposed to how yesterday’s batch did, all fudgy and, well, buttery and smooth and absolutely perfect.
I’m sure my mother would have let me buy butter for making fudge if the idea had ever entered my head. I didn’t even think I liked butter and never would have dreamed of using butter. My housemate in college, Karen Tullsen, introduced the idea of using butter in baking, since she never did anything else. Then my husband persisted in using butter when making his traditional Sunday morning pancakes with our boys, despite my complaints about the smell. Eventually, believe it or not, I grew to like it, even the smell.
And, truth to tell, margarine over the years has grown to look more like “spread” and less and less like butter and I have changed to where I would never use anything else in my baking.
I do feel sorry for my child self. All that work. All that agonizing over whether the sugar was completely dissolved, when a simple change to using real butter would have solved the problem!
There are all kinds of simplistic sermon illustrations out of that, but I will refrain, I think.
On the good side, I am pleased that now I am much more confident that this batch of perfect fudge was not a strange, irreproducible fluke that will live in time as a legend. The perfect fudge that I supposedly made on Thanksgiving Day when I was all alone but that no one else ever tasted. Now I feel confident that I could do it again.
So I do not have to worry if there doesn’t happen to be any left when my son returns on Sunday night. I will simply have to make another batch.
What can I say? I am shut up in the house alone with a pan of my favorite fudge, and it is absolutely perfect.
I should also add that I am third of thirteen children and I never did learn self-control regarding sweets. If there are sweets around and you do not eat them now, you will probably not get any.
And my goodness that fudge tastes good!
And although my headache still is not precisely gone, it is not worse, so at least the fudge is not making me sick, right?
Can you tell that I am not even trying to fight it? Will you despise me utterly if I confess that a part of the reason I made fudge on Thanksgiving Day was that I knew that I would be alone in the house for the next three days and would get to eat it up all by myself? If you are tempted to judge me too harshly, chalk it up to the fact that I can safely say that not once when I made fudge as a child did I ever get to eat even half of the fudge myself. (No wonder I “tested” so much of it while cooking!) That must have been a little fantasy indulgence right there.
I’m hoping for a writing blitz today — alternating with reviews and writing on my NaNoWriMo novel. I’m hoping the headache will stay subdued enough to allow for that. Wish me luck.