Recipe: Double-Chocolate Walnut & Marshmallow Creme Fudge

I brought along some fudge to Ru’s party on Saturday and I thought I’d post it here in case anyone would like the recipe. I had in mind that I could bake a dessert and something with nuts & chocolate sounded good. So, I decided on fudge and headed to AllRecipes for an appropriate recipe.

I searched for “fudge” and found my way to their fudge section. From there, I navigated to the Fudge with Nuts recipes and on to the recipes for Chocolate Fudge [with Nuts]. There were about a dozen recipes there and I concetrated on those recipes which already had many reviews (recipes that are highly rated tend to garner more reviews, which leads to more reviews and so on).

I settled on Aunt Teen’s Creamy Chocolate Fudge. It had 343 reviews and still had an average 5-star rating. What I also liked about it — in addition to its inclusion of two types of chocolate along with marshmallow creme — was that it required no fancy candy thermometers (as some fudge recipes do). Here’s the recipe:

Aunt Teen’s Creamy Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar [see notes below on alterations]
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk [a 5 oz can]
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips [one full 12 oz bag]
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips [half a 12 oz bag]
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts [walnuts work very well here, though pecans would probably also be good]
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the nuts in an even layer. Toast them for 4 minutes, rotate pan, and continue to toast until fragrant and color deepens slightly, about 4 minutes longer. Then set them aside to slightly cool until they’re needed.

  2. Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.

  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine half the jar of marshmallow creme, sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt. Bring to a full boil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

  4. Remove from heat and pour in semisweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in nuts and vanilla; lightly fold in remaining marshmallow creme. Pour into prepared pan. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours or until firm.

Recipe notes and alterations:

Though the recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of sugar, some of the reviews suggested trying just 1 cup of sugar instead. Since I didn’t want an overly-sweet fudge, I went with that suggestion (which worked out well). On a later batch, I tried using just 2/3 cup of sugar and that seemed to further improved the chocolatiness-to-sweetness ratio.

At one point, I also thought about using Splenda in lieu of sugar altogether. However, I decided not to take a chance on that as fudge recipes tend to rely on the crystalline nature of sugar for the proper chemical reactions (unlike many other baked goods which only use sugar for its sweetening properties). Besides, even though fudge isn’t a low-carb food (this recipe has about 18g carbs per piece), the granular sugar alone isn't that much of a factor towards that count (after all, it’s one cup divided over 48 pieces).

Recipe: Milky Way Peanut Butter Cookies

Among other gifts, Mike got some candy for Christmas, including some Fun Size Milky Way bars. In contrast to their peanut-filled cousins, Snickers, Milky Ways are relatively tame — mostly caramel and nougat. So, on a lark, I decided to check AllRecipes to see whether there were any Milky Way-based recipes. Sure enough, I found one: Milky Way Peanut Butter Cookies.

Since I had some free time yesterday, I decided to give it a shot. The recipe is fairly easy — just three steps — and the only thing to keep in mind is that the recipe needs bite-sized Milky Ways (a typo at one point mentions Fun Size, but the recipe’s reviews confirm that bite size is needed).

Milky Way Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 36 fun [bite] size bars Milky Way [If you have Fun Size bars instead, just cut them in half to create bite size.]

Directions:

  1. Cream together white sugar, brown sugar, butter or margarine, vanilla, peanut butter and the egg.
  2. Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Wrap 1 heaping teaspoon of dough around a bite sized Milky Way candy bar. Bake 13-16 minutes at 350° F (175° C). Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

So, I mixed up the cookie dough and decided on 14 minutes cooking time (well, the directions said 13-16 minutes and 14 sounded like a good mid-point). And even though my oven doesn’t heat that unevenly, I swapped the two cookie sheets halfway through just to be sure.

I took out the cookies after 14 minutes and — as directed by the recipe — I let them cool for 5 minutes. It’s not that they were all that hot, but they needed those few minutes to firm up. And, as soon as the 5-minute timer beeped, I grabbed one and gingerly took a bite.

To my delight, the nougat/caramel had become warm and molten — similar in some ways but even better than a Caramello bar. The cookies turned out even better than I expected and I’m tempted to cookieify some Fun Size Snickers bars later this week :).

Apple Crisp Recipe from Good Eats

I have a Season Pass in my TiVo for Good Eats — a cooking show on Food Network. Oftentimes, the show’s theme may be obscure and I won’t end up watching it — and I thought that the Apple Family Values episode (yeah, just apple recipes) may have been one of those.

I somewhat expected an apple pie recipe in there somewhere, but Alton didn’t go for that. Instead, there were recipes such as Waldorf Salad and Apple Sauce (neither of which were particularly useful to me since I have no plans to make those). However, the Apple Crisp recipe (which he calls “Baker, Baker” on the site) caught my eye. Not only does it look delicious, but it seems fairly foolproof as well :).

Other than the ingredients for the streusel topping, there’s no measuring in the recipe. Mostly, it’s a matter of cutting a hole in the apple, filling most of it with honey, then adding the topping. In short:

  • Cut tops off apples with a knife using a diagonal cut towards the center of the apple
  • Use a melon baller to remove the seeds and form a shaft down the apple
  • Fill the shaft with honey, but leave room where the cone-top used to be
  • Add the streusel mixture to the top of the apple until overflowing
  • Bake

The recipe looked rather easy and Mike and I were tempted to try it that evening (alas, we had no oats). However, as I looked through the cupboard yesterday, I noticed that Mike had picked up some oats; so, perhaps we’ll be able to make some in the next few days.

Baker, Baker

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown
Show: Good Eats
Episode: Apple Family Values

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 Braeburn apples (Fuji will substitute)
  • 4 teaspoons honey [You don’t really need to measure this]

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients and diced butter. Rub mixture briskly between finger tips until it forms small moist clumps in a loose sandy mixture. Refrigerate while preparing the apples.

Cut a small layer off the bottom of each apple to create a flat, stable bottom surface. With a small paring knife, cut a cylindrical cone out of the top of the apple, moving about 1-inch outside of the core, similar to removing the top of a pumpkin when carving a Jack O’Lantern. Remove the top and discard. With a melon baller or a teaspoon, remove the remaining core and seeds taking care not to puncture the base of the apple.

Place apples on a baking sheet or pie dish and fill each center with a teaspoon of honey. Spoon in mixture, packing lightly until heaped and overflowing over sides of the apples.

Bake in oven at 350° on the top or middle rack for 40 minutes or until filling is golden brown and the tip of a paring knife can be inserted into the side of the apple with little or no resistance. Let apples stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Grilled Cheese Recipe from Good Eats

I enjoy watching Good Eats on Food Network — it’s a cooking show hosted by Alton Brown. Each episode, he goes over recipes around a common theme along with the science behind why things cook the way they do (not to worry, this isn’t a science show).

Just last night, I saw the episode “For Whom the Cheese Melts”. The episode was about melting cheese and, ostensibly, fondue. I had a small hope that maybe he’d sneak in a Metallica reference during the show, but he didn’t go for that. And, for the most part, the fondue recipes didn’t interest me much since I have no plans to make fondue on my own.

However, the episode did conclude with what Alton calls “the best grilled cheese sandwich you have ever had”. Well, I looked forward to that segment since I not only enjoy grilled cheese, but I expected that the recipe wouldn’t be terribly difficult either.

The full recipe is below, but these are the key points:

  • Grate the cheese first, as it apparently melts more evenly [I didn’t know this.]
  • In addition to the cheese, Alton also adds a spoonful of Dijon mustard and fresh ground pepper to the sandwich [Sounds good to me!]
  • Use a spritzing of olive oil on the outside, instead of butter [I suppose it makes sense that olive oil may impart a more delicate flavor to the sandwich.]
  • Use two heated skillets, stacked, to cook the sandwich from both sides [This hadn’t occurred to me either.]

And, here’s the recipe itself:

Big Cheese Squeeze

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown
Show: Good Eats
Episode: For Whom the Cheese Melts

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of bread, cut thin (as far as bread selection goes, all I’ll say is the bigger the loaf the bigger the sandwich)
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup Grated cheese (This is the soul of the thing, so use the good stuff. We like a semi-hard, semi-soft combo like smoked gouda and Gruyere or Fontina with a young Asiago. If you’re a purist, go for the Cheddar, but make it sharp and aged if possible.)
  • Good quality olive oil for spritzing.

Preparation:

Find 2 heavy skillets that will nest together. Two (10-inch) cast iron skillets are ideal. Heat them over high heat.

Meanwhile, spread mustard on one slice of bread. Distribute the cheese evenly over the mustard, season with fresh black pepper and top with second piece of bread.

Spritz the bread surface that’s staring up at you with olive oil using either a Misto or a pump sprayer. A light coat will do, don’t soak.

When the pans are hot enough to vigorously sizzle a drop of water, remove them from the heat and place the sandwich, top-side down in the middle of one pan. (if your pans are a different size, this would be the smaller one.) Spritz the slice now facing you, as well as the bottom of the other skillet. Lay the skillet right on top of the sandwich. If the top pan isn't cast iron, weigh it down with a brick, can, or something of similar heft.

Wait patiently, crack a beer. When you hear the first bit of cheese run out and sizzle on the pan, it’s done. This will take anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes.

Carefully remove the top skillet, (you may need to coax it off with a spatula, but I doubt it). Just look at it. It’s perfect…better than mom’s. (no reason to tell her)

Remove to a plate, count to 10 and slice it in half. Take a bite. Take another. So they lost… there’s always next year.

I look forward to trying one of these sandwiches. I prefer other mustards to Dijon, so perhaps I’ll substitute another mustard. And, since all my skillets are aluminum (or some other non-iron metal), I’ll have to find a heavy object to place on top of the skillets.

A New Take on Tuna Burgers

I heard about an interesting recipe for tuna burgers from the AllRecipes.com Recipes Notes newsletter. Sure, even Food 911 has featured a tuna burger recipe, but that episode was almost a farce — a daycare center writes to the show to ask about how to make tuna more appetizing for the kids, and Tyler proceeds to make them tuna burgers made from diced tuna filets (not exactly an affordable solution for a daycare center).

Anyhow, back to the tuna burgers on AllRecipes. What struck me about these is that not only are these burgers tasty (“My husband … loves these tasty tuna burgers.”), but this recipe calls for regular called tuna (aha, that’s much more affordable).

The only downside, perhaps, is that the recipe calls for an extensive ingredient list. From bread crumbs, to onion, to red pepper, to dill weed and Worcestershire sauce, there’s a lot that go into these. Nonetheless, I’m quite tempted to try them sometime.

Tasty Tuna Burgers

Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 22 Minutes
Cook Time: 8 Minutes
Ready in: 30 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tuna, drained
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs [Atkins people might be able to omit this]
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed [I don’t even know what dill weed looks like. Yeesh.]
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 4 leaves of lettuce (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine tuna, egg, bread crumbs, onion, celery, red bell pepper, mayonnaise, hot chili sauce, chili sauce, dill, salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Shape into 4 patties (mixture will be very soft and delicate). Refrigerate for 30 minutes to make the patties easier to handle, if desired.
  2. Coat a non-stick skillet with cooking spray; fry tuna patties for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. These are fragile, so be careful when turning them.
  3. Serve on buns with tomato slices and lettuce leaves, if desired.