One thing my mother always made at least once during the holidays was peanut butter fudge. It was never chocolate or any other kind . . . always peanut butter, but we didn't mind because we loved it so very much. It was a real treat!
She always made it in the same pot, an old aluminum one that she had gotten in her original set of Wearever cookware back in 1955. I think it cost almost as much as a house, but here we are 2011 and she is still using it. Money well spent, I'd say!
She never measured anything. She didn't need to . . . it was all done by memory, and she knew exactly how much of each thing she needed to add by sight alone . . . and it always worked like a charm, every time. (Me . . . I made fudge sometimes for my children when they were growing up, and 9 times out of 10 they'd end up having to eat it with a spoon.
We'd watch her as it went together . . . as if by magic . . . and then sometimes she would let us beat it when it was ready, with her big old wooden spoon . . . if we'd been very good . . .we'd be given the pot and spoon to lick clean . . . we did a pretty good job of that, coz it would always be as clean as a whistle by the time we were done.
The beaten fudge would be poured into the same pan each time . . . it was an old aluminium tin, blackened through use . . . it's bottom engraved in a swirly pattern of raised tin. Some how those little traced swirls on the bottom of each piece only added to it's flavour . . . cakes used to come out with that swirly pattern as well. Nom! Nom!
After I grew up, I was determined to learn how to make it for myself and my family, and so I had her dump in the ingredients one at a time one evening . . . and I carefully measured them as she did so. It worked out pretty well, as I have had a great peanut butter fudge recipe for years that I can count on to turn out every single time.
It never quite tastes quite as good as the memory of the taste of hers . . . but then . . . I don't have that special touch of magic mother's love that she put into it . . . nor do I have a swirley bottomed pan.
*Mom's Peanut Butter Fudge*
Makes one 8 inch square pan
It just wouldn't be Christmas without a pan of this to munch on! Creamy and peanut buttery. If you don't like peanut butter, look away now!
21 ounces of white sugar (3 cups)
3 TBS smooth peanut butter
250ml of whole milk (1 cup)
2 ounces butter (1/4 cup)
1 tap vanilla
Butter an 8 inch square pan. Set aside.
Place the sugar, peanut butter and milk into a LARGE saucepan. (You will need a really big one as it really increases in volume when it is boiling. Trust me on this.) Heat, whisking, until the peanut butter is completely melted into the mixture. Increase the heat slightly and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to a medium boil and continue to boil, stirring occasionally to help prevent it from catching. You will want to boil it to the soft ball stage, (115*C/235*F) This should take between 18 to 25 minutes or so. Once this happens, remove from the heat immediately.
Stir in the butter and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until it begins to look creamy and begins to lose it's gloss. Pour into the prepared pan immediately. (Don't wait too long or it will harden in the pot and you won't be able to pour it into the prepared pan. You just want it to begin losing it's gloss.) Allow to set for about an hour at room temperature, before cutting into squares to serve.
Store in an airtight container. This also freezes well.
Happy Holidays and Bon Appetit!