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Entries in fudge (6)

Thursday
Feb072013

Mac Attack: Ryba's Fudge from Mackinac Island, Michigan

Ryba's Fudge - cookies and cream

Sometimes, a sweet comes along that makes you want to become their official ambassador and travel the globe spreading the sweet gospel, introducing everyone to this magical stuff. 

One such sweet, and you'll know exactly what I am talking about if you've ever tasted it, is Ryba's Fudge from Mackinac Island in Michigan.

Ryba's Fudge - Turtle Fudge

If you are in any way tempted to say "I don't like fudge," well, I urge you to silence your dirty, untrustworthy mouth with a piece of a fudge unlike any other you have tasted. 

Ryba's Fudge - unopened

And while you let it melt in your mouth, let me tell you a little of the story of the late Mr. Ryba, who left a legacy as the "Fudge King" of Mackinac Island, and his fudge.

Ryba's Fudge - all in a row

Mr. Ryba was born in Detroit on June 19, 1907 and grew up the eldest of five children in Utica, Michigan. He began working on the family farm, and in the mid 1930’s rented a storefront in which he began selling caramel corn and popcorn near a Detroit movie theater. In 1950, he grew both amused and irritated with a twelve year old boy selling The Detroit News outside his store. The young man had such a loud voice that Mr. Ryba always claimed he would scare his customers away. He also admired the young man’s drive, so he hired “Victor”, his eventual partner and son-in-law. Together they started making fudge. They were so successful, they branched out to sell at state fairs and other events that brought large crowds.

In 1960, they rented their first Mackinac Island store and began selling their fudge. Since that time, Mr. Ryba and his son-in-law have been a major force in the competitive fudge trade and have helped put this originally small resort town on the map. Also know as “the man of ideas,” Mr. Ryba helped transform this island into the place it is today. He was up at first light, a hands-on type person who was everywhere his many business ventures took him.

In March of 1996, he passed away at the age of 88. He left a major legacy in the generations that have followed in his footsteps. His son-in-law and grandchildren have continued in the fudge and candy trade, and today five stores are operated in the downtown area. Ryba’s trademark pink stores and pink bags represent the past and present of the fudge and candy trade. “Victor’s Caramel Corn” is the seed of the industry and what started the company so many years ago.

What started in Detroit, and moved to Mackinac Island may now be found at Chicago’s McCormick Place and Navy Pier. His grandchildren happily continue the legacy of fresh, quality fudge cooked in copper kettles and creamed on marble slabs. “When you see it made you know it’s fresh,” and we make it fresh daily at two of our downtown locations. Like Mr. Ryba, we’d be happy to put on a show!

Ryba's Fudge - choc peanut butter

I need you to know that I love that story. I love the idea of such an enterprise--fudge as something that would please tourists and give them a unique sweet memory, as well as a treat to bring back home.

But more importantly, I need you to know how much I love this fudge. I, like some out there, am not the biggest-hugest fudge fan. Growing up with substandard "chocolate sand" varieties sold on the Jersey Shore, I have often found the stuff underwhelming. 

Ryba's Fudge - wrapped

But this Ryba's fudge is different. I think that the pictures at least slightly conveys it, but not completely. The texture is nothing like the gritty stuff that all too often passes as fudge. This is the absolute smoothest fudge I have ever had. It is like silk on the tongue. It melts like ganache. It's sweet, but not obnoxiously so. It begs you to have another bite. Although it's so smooth that it's not so much a bite as a gentle avalanche of sweetness in your mouth.

I had a sampler, so there were plenty of types to try--plain, Chocolate Pecan, Turtle, Cookies and Cream, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Peanut Butter. One after the other, the fudge varieties were simple and straightforward--I wouldn't call them a fancy food, exactly, but each one was just as smooth and as simply exquisite as my first bite.

Ryba's Fudge - cookies n cream

But don't take my word for it--take a five year old's. I watch and do baking and art lessons for two sweet girls every now and again, and the younger one, upon tasting the Cookies and Cream variety, said "this is really good stuff."

Ryba's Fudge - Turtle Fudge

It is really good stuff. And for me, an evocative food memory, and a telling one. It was like the taste of this fudge was good enough to match my idealized memories of growing up by the Jersey shore, but this treat needed no filter of time or memory--it was just excellent, plain and simple.

Ryba's Fudge; for more information or to buy, visit ryba.com.

Wednesday
Aug172011

Microwave Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Fudge Recipe

There was a time, in my childhood, during which my parents chose to go without a microwave. I know--hippies!

As a result, I became exceedingly adept at cooking everything with the toaster--for instance, putting foil on top of the toaster oven and heating up microwave pizza using the heat rising from inside of the toaster. Totally not a fire hazard at all. 

These days, now that I have a microwave of my very own, I really want you to know that I appreciate its presence very much and strive to honor it whenever possible. And what bigger tribute to la belle microwave than making delicious microwave fudge? This is a riff on a recipe I found on Allrecipes.com, but I made the executive decision to use half and half instead of milk (good idea) and to add a healthy dose of peanut butter chips for added rich deliciousness. Here's how you make some microwave magic at home:

Microwave Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Fudge

  • Microwave Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Fudge
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter chip morsels, divided into 1/2 and 1/4 cup

Procedure

  1. Line an 8x8-inch or 9x9-inch pyrex pan with parchment paper or waxed paper.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, stir together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa. Pour the half and half over mixture and place butter in bowl. Do not mix (it will be too thick to mix, anyway). Microwave on high until butter is melted, 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla and stir vigorously until smooth. 
  3. If adding the peanut butter morsels, stir them into the smooth mixture; the residual heat should make them melt into peanut buttery swirls in the batter.
  4. Spoon the mixture into your prepared pan and using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture so that it is evenly distributed. If desired, sprinkle the top with the remaining peanut butter morsel chips.
  5. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour, or the freezer for half an hour, before serving. Makes about 16 squares.
Wednesday
Mar302011

Oh Fudge: Chocolate Covered Cherry Fudge by Fields of Cake

Images: Fields of CakeCheck it. So, a week or two ago, I went to Vermont for the Maple Open House weekend. Which was awesome. You'll totally hear more about it soon. But.

Right now, I want to address a beautiful diversion from said Vermont Maple Weekend. 

So, I have been bloggy BFF's for, like, ever with Fields of Cake. Carrie Fields, the talented proprietress of this blog and Portland, Maine-area home-based baking business, has not only been a customer of mine for years, but has wowed me with her baking prowess on many occasions.

So when she sent me a message that basically amounted to "You're this close, come to Maine!"...I listened.

And I went to Maine, where I was treated to sea, sunshine...and the most delicious fudge I have ever, in my life, tasted.

And I have tried my share of fudge varieties, let me tell you.

This chocolate-covered cherry fudge is extremely sweet in the up-front, assertive way that only fudge can get away with. But Carrie's was a gorgeous variety: completely smooth, none of that "chocolate sand" gritty texture business, and in spite of the sweetness you could still taste the flavor of real cherry shining through.

Basically, this was the type of fudge that could make you swear off chocolate covered cherries forever.

And--happy dance--she posted a recipe, here. But I'll bet she'd also sell it to you if you sent her an email through her great site.

Thursday
Jul152010

Milk Maid: A Fudge Q + A and Recipe from Swiss Maid Fudge

You've never met Jane Heller, but you'll probably like her as soon as I tell you this one thing about her: she has a company, Swiss Maid Fudge, that specializes in making delicious...well, you know. This Wisconsin-based company offers many options beyond the expected vanilla and chocolate, by the way--anyone care for some banana split fudge?

Anyhow. Ready to hear more? Thought so. 

Q: How did you first get involved with making fudge?
A: I began making fudge in high school when I would work summers in the candy store. I would spend my summers doing the same techniques we use today which really sparked my love of the business.  Making fudge has been a large part of my life and I have really grown with this company.

Q: How has Swiss Maid Fudge changed since you first started there?
A: We began with just 3 flavors of fudge – chocolate, vanilla, and maple fudge and have expanded to over 24 flavors!  We have also expanded our homemade products to include several caramel and brittle varieties, salt water taffy, caramel apples and hand-dipped chocolates. We have also expanded nationally through our Web site and started selling all over the country. As a company, we wanted to keep the traditional way of making our homemade fudge, but update our business through our online presence.  
 
Q: What are the top tips you can give someone attempting to make the perfect fudge?
A: The top three tips I can give are:
  • Wash down the sides of your pan with a brush dipped in water to prevent the formation of sugar crystals. 
  • You must use a candy thermometer and cook it to the correct temperature specified in your recipe – a degree here or there will make a big difference in the final outcome. 
  • Let the mixture cool a little before mixing – this will result in a creamier consistency.
 And now that you're armed with that expertise, howsabout a recipe? Jane was kind enough to share one:


Jane’s Chocolate Fudge Cake Recipe
(Video of Jane making this recipe can be found above, or here)
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 Cup Whole Milk
  • 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Corn Syrup
  • 6 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
In preparation
  1. Finely chop or grind the unsweetened chocolate.
  2. Prepare your marble slab or countertop by sprinkling with water.
  3. Spray your ring molds with cooking spray. You may select any size mold you prefer. Have a small greased container ready to put the remaining fudge in after you fill the molds.
Procedure
  1. In a saucepan, combine milk, sugar, corn syrup and butter stirring to combine all ingredients well. Wash down the sides of the pan and the stirring spoon with a pastry brush dipped in water. Insert a candy thermometer making sure it doesn't sit on the bottom of the pan. Cook to 238 degrees. Do not overcook.
  2. Promptly remove from heat and slowly pour onto your work surface. Sprinkle the surface of the candy again with water and sprinkle the unsweetened chocolate evenly over the top. Let cool until the cooked mixture holds a slight indentation when your finger is pressed into it-mixture should be warm not hot. This should only take a few minutes.
  3. Using a scraper begin mixing from the outside edges into the middle making sure to get well underneath the candy. Mix swiftly as setting will occur quickly. Once mixed, place the fudge into each mold and the remainder into a pan.
  4. Fudge should immediately be ready to remove from the molds. Sprinkle the tops and sides of each layer with coarse sugar and stack. To make each section stick together melt a little chocolate and put in the middle of each layer before stacking the next.
  5. Package in a cellophane bag and tie with a bow or store in an air tight container. Makes approximately 2 lbs. of fudge.

To learn more, visit the Swiss Maid Fudge website; for a virtual tour of their factory, click here.

Tuesday
May112010

Sweet and Tart: White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Fudge by Rose City Sweets, Portland OR

As a card carrying member of the White Chocolate Lovers Club, I'd like to introduce you to my newest obsession: 

White Chocolate Fudge with Cranberries and Pistachios.

This sweet manna from heaven is produced by the brand new Portland, OR-based confectionery company Rose City Sweets--in fact, they're so new that they just made their public debut last week at Crafty Wonderland, and their online store doesn't even have stock yet (I know, it is pretty mean of me to tell you about them, considering this). But when their store is stocked, you can expect to find small batch fudge, caramels, toffee, and other confections.

But what's so great about this white chocolate-cran-pistachio business?

For one thing, the fudge is unbelievably smooth and creamy--it is not plagued by the gritty candy-sand texture that is a characteristic of inferior fudges--not to mention extremely rich and flavorful. The sweet white chocolate flavor is perfectly accented by the slight savory saltiness of the pistachios, and nicely punctuated with tart bits of cranberry.

Let's just say that the brick of fudge I obtained at aforementioned Crafty Wonderland did not last long, and I predict a very sweet future for Rose City Sweets.

There's nothing in the shop now, but for future reference and shopping, bookmark the Rose City Sweets Etsy page.

Friday
Oct052007

Fudge It: Confections by Oh, Fudge!


A company specializing in confectionery and soap kind of sounds like the makings of a sitcom: the inevitable mixed-up orders, hilarity ensuing.

Nonetheless, we took the brave step of buying fudge by Oh Fudge, a Graham, WA-based operation run by Ann Smith, whose Etsy shop is half comprised of fudge, cookies and sweet cake bars; the other half is comprised of Lush-esque cakes of soap which also look strangely delicious. So, were we playing with fire? Was this fudge going to taste like a stern lesson?

Happily, it was more like a reward. The fudge was like a cross between cake frosting and cookie dough, so smooth and rich it would eat just as comfortably from a spoon as with your fingers; the baker tells us the secret to the texture is using cream instead of milk for the fudge (which is loosely based on her grandmother's recipe).

Of course if you do eat it with your fingers, you know what to wash your hands with later.

Available online at wwizebody.etsy.com.

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