February 14 (aka: Valentine’s Day or Single Awareness Day)

So, have you been to the store to find a chocolatey treat for your Valentine yet?  Have you dared to look at the ingredients lists on those beautiful heart-shaped boxes that appeal so much to a woman’s heart for some reason?  (Image courtesy of pamsclipart.com.)  Um-hmmm…depressing, isn’t it?  I have yet to discover one that I can eat (dairy and corn syrup allergies.)  Sure, the health food store might have something passable, but it’s not in one of those cute little boxes, now is it?  And if I can’t have the box, don’t bother with only passable candy.  I want the good stuff!

Aaaaaannnd, how do I get the good stuff then?  Well, of course, I have to make it myself.  Not as romantic as a heart-shaped box, but, hey, it still is good chocolate.  😉  If you don’t happen to have a Valentine, or are clear across the country from him/her, you get to eat it all yourself.  (My now-single eldest son says Valentine’s Day is actually Single Awareness Day – S.A.D.)

This year I am clear across the country from my adorable and adoring hubby.  How did this happen, you ask?  Well, I came to visit my oldest son and take care of my precious granddaughter while she’s with her dad this month.  I figure it is my “job” to make their Valentine’s Day special since we’re all on our own tomorrow.  The best thing I know to give my loved ones (since I can’t get any of those blasted unhealthy heart-shaped boxes!) is Chocolate FudgeChocolate (Nut) Fudge.  Now, I’ve posted this recipe before, but I learned something new making it in my son’s kitchen.  (I’ve posted about trying to cook in his kitchen before here.)  You do not need a double boiler (or a facsimile thereof.)  It is now easier than ever to whip up a batch of fudge.

So, grab your measuring cups and get busy making a wonderful gift for your favorite person!

Peanut Butter Fudge (or other nut butter)

PB Fudge

 

 

(Shown with a piece of chocolate-nut fudge in the glow of the setting sun streaming in my dining room window.)

 

If you or someone you know has allergies to peanut butter, don’t despair and turn away from this fudge!  I have successfully made it substituting either natural almond butter or sunflower seed butter.  I would imagine any natural nut butter would work, although cashew butter is pretty thick…you might have to decrease the powdered sugar for that one.

Peanut Butter Fudge

  • 1/4 c. (1/2 a stick) Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1/3 c. non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (optional, depending on if your nut butter is unsalted or not)
  • 1 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1 lb. (approximately 4 c.) powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)

Have ready a 5″x9″, 8″x8″, or 10″x6″ pan, preferably glass, as the fudge doesn’t stick to it ~ or double the recipe and use a 9″x13″ cake pan, or a smaller lasagna pan.  Different pans will make thicker or thinner pieces of fudge.  If you must use a metal pan, you might want to line it clear up the sides with waxed or parchment paper so that you can just lift it out of the pan to cut it, especially if it has a non-stick coating that you don’t want to mar with the knife.

Three Fudges Preparation 005In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the non-dairy milk and salt.  Stir in the powdered sugar until everything looks creamy and runny.  Now add the peanut butter.  (TRUST me on this – it does NOT work to add the peanut butter to the melted “butter” before the powdered sugar, even though every intuition in my mind says differently.  You will end up with a thick, streaky mess that you have to work long and hard to fix.) Continue mixing until everything is smooth.

You must press this into a prepared pan (you may need to use your hands to do this) so that it is not crumbly with air pockets later.  Cool and then cut.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container to keep it from drying out.

Chocolate (Nut) Fudge

In my family, there is a “battle” that rages over nuts vs. no nuts in chocolate fudge (and chocolate chip cookies, for that matter.)  However, since I am the cook, the default version of chocolate fudge out of my kitchen contains walnuts.  (My daughter, the texture queen, omits them from her kitchen.)  Nuts add a small measure of health to a not-particularly-healthy food, and besides…I prefer the taste and texture of the fudge with them.  😉  To be honest, nobody has refused to eat it with the nuts yet.  (Although, I believe there has been some surreptitious trading of chocolate vs. peanut butter fudge going on from Christmas stockings in the past.)

This particular recipe I have been making for 12 years.  I have the date at the bottom of the page I printed off those many years ago.  Honestly, it feels like it should be longer than that!  What did I do for fudge before then?  The webpage address was no longer correct, but I did find the original after some searching.  I want to give credit where it is due.  I have written things differently and changed the amount of nuts used.  Here is the link to the original on VegWeb:  Easy Fudge

Update:  Since I wanted to make this fudge while visiting my son, which happened to be over Valentine’s Day, I discovered something.  You don’t have to use a double boiler or a bowl set on top of a pan of boiling water!  You can melt the “butter” in the microwave (carefully!) and then stir in the soymilk.  Heat it for a few more seconds.  Stir in the vanilla and then the dry ingredients.  SO easy!  No more double boiler for me!

Chocolate Fudge

  • 6 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1+ tsp. vanilla (you can’t go wrong with extra!)
  • 1/4 c. non-dairy milk (I use Silk vanilla soy)
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder, sifted (use a small wire mesh strainer if you don’t own a sifter)
  • 3 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)
  • 1/2 c. chopped nuts (oh, all right…optional)

Have ready a 5″x9″, or 8″x8″, or even a somewhat smaller pan, preferably glass or ceramic, as the fudge doesn’t stick to it ~ or double the recipe and use a 9″x13″ cake pan, or a smaller lasagna pan.  Different pans will make thicker or thinner pieces of fudge.  If you must use a metal pan, you might want to line it clear up the sides with waxed or parchment paper so that you can just lift it out of the pan to cut it, especially if it has a non-stick coating that you don’t want to mar with the knife.

In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the non-dairy milk and vanilla.  Stir in the cocoa powder, followed by the powdered sugar, stirring until smooth.  Add nuts; stir until well distributed.  Take the pan or bowl off of the boiling water and wipe the bottom of it off on a towel or dishcloth lying on the sink edge or counter so that no boiling water drips on you or into the fudge pan.  Scrape into pan and smooth out to the edges with a rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly.  (It is easier to cut into pieces if you do so before it firms up completely.)  Must be refrigerated.  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container.

Don’t forget to call your children or grandchildren to lick off the spoon, spatula, and bowl…and I promise I won’t tell if you call them so very, very quietly that you end up taking care of the job yourself!  😉

Three Fudge Recipes

Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy!  The holidays are coming and that means it’s time to start pulling out the special recipes.  (And, apparently, it’s also time to start learning the settings on my son’s camera a little better so that my photos have consistent lighting!  Sorry about that.)

Some of you may have given up fudge when you became vegan.  Well, guess what?  I’m here to change that for you!  Plus, this year since I’m writing a vegan food blog, I decided that I might need to branch out a little ~ you know, try a few new flavors of fudge other than my standards of chocolate and peanut butter.  (Funny…my family didn’t complain one bit about being guinea pigs for these experiments!  😀  Now you get the fun results of our taste testing.)  The bonus is that these are super easy to make.

Please keep in mind that though this is vegan it is by NO MEANS healthy, every-day food, and it certainly isn’t on Forks Over Knives’ list of what to include in their next cookbook.  It just means that you get to have some fun food on the goody table at your next party so that you aren’t tempted to partake of the even less healthy versions that contain animal products and trans fats.

Let me know what your favorite is!  There are divided opinions in my family for their favorites.  (Chocolate and peanut butter recipes will be coming soon, too.)

Have ready a 5″x9″, or 8″x8″, or even a somewhat smaller pan (pictured is what I used this time), preferably glass or ceramic, as the fudge doesn’t stick to it ~ or double the recipe and use a 9″x13″ cake pan, or a smaller lasagna pan.  Different pans will make thicker or thinner pieces of fudge.  If you must use a metal pan, you might want to line it clear up the sides with waxed or parchment paper so that you can just lift it out of the pan to cut it, especially if it has a non-stick coating that you don’t want to mar with the knife.

Maple Nut Fudge

  • 6 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1+ tsp. vanilla (you can’t go wrong with extra!)
  • 1 T. non-dairy milk powder (or however much your brand calls for to make 1 c. of milk – I used Better Than Milk soy)
  • 4 c. powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the maple syrup, vanilla, and non-dairy milk powder, whisking until all of the milk powder is dissolved.  Stir in powdered sugar until smooth.  Add nuts; stir until well distributed.  Take the pan or bowl off of the boiling water and wipe the bottom of it off on a towel or dishcloth lying on the sink edge or counter so that no boiling water drips on you or into the fudge pan.  Scrape into pan and smooth out to the edges with a rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly.  (It is easier to cut into pieces if you do so before it firms up completely.)  Must be refrigerated.  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container.

Please allow the child within you to clean off the spoon, spatula, and bowl ~ you wouldn’t want any to go to waste would you?  😉

Eggnog Fudge

  • 6 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1/4 c. non-dairy milk (I use Silk vanilla soy)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. brandy extract/flavoring
  • 1/2 tsp. rum extract/flavoring
  • 3/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 4 1/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)

In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the non-dairy milk, extracts/flavorings, and nutmeg, stirring to combine.  Stir in powdered sugar until smooth. Take the pan or bowl off of the boiling water and wipe the bottom of it off on a towel or dishcloth lying on the sink edge or counter so that no boiling water drips on you or into the fudge pan.  Scrape into pan and smooth out to the edges with a rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly.  (It is easier to cut into pieces if you do so before it firms up completely.)  Must be refrigerated.  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container.

Raspberry Fudge

This particular fudge isn’t as perfected as the other two.  It’s texture tends to be difficult to cut once it’s cold and it wants to break into shards or funny-shaped hunks.  I almost removed it from the post, but decided to include it anyway because it tastes so good.  The next time I make it, I will probably spread it out on waxed paper on a very small cookie sheet – then I will just pull up the paper and break the fudge, rather than cutting it, which seems to cause the problems.  The other option is to add extra Earth Balance to soften it some.

  • 6 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. raspberry syrup (I used Monin brand that I found at a Home Goods Store)
  • 1 T. non-dairy milk powder (or however much your brand calls for to make 1 c. of milk – I used Better Than Milk soy)
  • 3 T. red food coloring (optional)
  • 4 c. powdered sugar, sifted (use powdered evaporated cane juice crystals to be completely, truly vegan)

In the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl placed over boiling/simmering water in a regular pot, melt the “butter.”  When it is completely melted, add the non-dairy milk, vanilla, raspberry syrup, and food coloring, if using, whisking until all of the milk powder is dissolved.  Stir in powdered sugar until smooth. Take the pan or bowl off of the boiling water and wipe the bottom of it off on a towel or dishcloth lying on the sink edge or counter so that no boiling water drips on you or into the fudge pan.  Scrape into pan and smooth out to the edges with a rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap.  (It is easier to cut into pieces if you don’t refrigerate it first.)  For storage more than a day or two, keep in an air-tight container.  Refrigerate.  Soften on the counter for 30 minutes or so before serving since it tends to be a better texture and not so crumbly then.