Saturday, August 27, 2011

Daring Baker Challenge August 2011 (kind of...): Peanut Butter Fudge

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at Chocoley offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

but I won't win any prizes with this winning recipe...

Our challenge this month was to make candies: one non-chocolate, and one enrobed in tempered chocolate. We were given many nice looking recipes to choose from, or allowed to use our own, but we were supposed to make at least two kinds. I didn't follow the directions. I actually had some chocolate that was previously tempered and now solidified from a long ago occasion - it was waiting in a glass dish to be used on something not requiring much chocolate. I even took the preliminary steps of cutting some of the marshmallows I made earlier in the month into petite cubes, thinking I would dunk them into the chocolate and a very quick homemade 'candy' would be done. (Maybe I would have even toasted the marshmallows and cooled them, and then dunked them into chocolate... maybe I will have to try that one day...) But then I recognized the heat of August and the business of preservation was not really conducive to chocolate coating anything. That, and I really need to cut down on my personal sugar consumption.

Enter the peanut butter:

VitaMix'ed. I still love this thing.

When I woke up this morning, I actually thought it was Daring Baker posting day, the 27th. This is what often happens to me since I rarely need to know the date for anything. Making one of the requirements for the challenge was actually the furthest thing from my mind, and then over breakfast I thought about commitments and how I hate to break them. I figured I could have an excuse to give out little packages of peanut butter fudge at a get-together I'm having over the weekend and then before I knew it, the peanut butter fudge was all but made. Using baking pantry staples, this delicious fudge can be ready for consumption about 1 hour and 20 minutes from when you decide to make it, and that includes 60 minutes of chilling time.

Being from Wisconsin, I like to think that I have a "one-up" on fudge. I was born in a highly touristic part of my state: The Northwoods, specifically Minocqua. We had fudge shops. (Plural.) Tourists would line up out the door, waiting for slabs of flavored specialty fudge, passing the time efficiently by watching the pretty girls through the window working some type of taffy winding machine, or spreading vats of sticky candy onto marble slabs to cool. We rarely bought any little white boxes of precious fudge, but were no strangers to this sweet confection. My Gram had an antique oval platter, cobalt blue, that was and still is known as the Fudge Plate. "That fudge plate is getting lonely..." is a phrase I grew up with, and nearly as fast as it was uttered, our whole family (except my Dad usually, and sometimes including my uncles) began scooping out spoonfuls as soon as it was rested to cool in the salt-buttered plate. We could never wait until it firmed up and it didn't matter. Gobs of sugary chocolate were well on their way through our digestive systems, and usually only a half platter remained long enough to cool completely into solid form.

So much of our family food memory revolves around fudge: straightening the rows or evening out the lines - because you just can leave a crooked line drawn in chocolate. (That is still true for me, by the way. I can't ever leave a cake or pie or fudge slab uneven...) That lucky one who's turn it was with the worn wooden spoon (that may or may not have tasted faintly of onions or garlic) to scrape the pot of the fudgey morsels still clinging to the sides. A good and intent scraper could very well end up on the long end of the stick with that scraping task.

All glorious fudge memories aside, I can not remember a single instance that we made or purchased peanut butter fudge. We always made chocolate fudge, my Gram would opt for maple if we spent the rare extra dollar or two to buy some, maple and walnuts being some of her favorite things. Peanut butter fudge always seemed too sweet, as if the argument for fudge could be made that it really isn't comprised of 80% sugar regardless of flavor. (My Dad never enjoyed fudge simply because of it's extreme sweetness until I made this recipe using dark bittersweet chocolate, it does seem considerably less sweet, and is probably my favorite fudge recipe currently. Since as you may have surmised, I'm all about not eating things too sweet.)

All things negative about peanut butter fudge said, I can now officially take them with a grain of salt. The Über-Sweetness of this particular peanut butter fudge is undeniable, but (if you can stop yourself from eating half the baking dish), it really is a delicious accomplishment. I feel a bit like Charlie Bucket, nibbling the tiniest corner of one of these cubes to let the sweetness permeate my mouth and transport me, and if mindful I can truly appreciate it's texture and peanutty nuance. If my real self takes control of my fleeting juvenile-literature-moment, I have to go and brush my teeth to make myself stop eating it.

Really, it is that delicious.


The only things I did to alter the recipe as written was to add a pinch of salt when I stirred in the peanut butter to the bubbling butter and sugar mixture, and when I melted the butter initially, I used a pastry brush to brush a touch of it in the 8x8 glass baking dish. Don't be tempted to omit the vanilla. I felt like the 1 t. really made it.

Peanut Butter Fudge (via Daring Kitchen site)
  • 1/2 cup (115g / 4oz.) Unsalted Butter
  • 2 1/4 cups (450g / 16oz.) firmly packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) Milk
  • 3/4 cup (200g / 7oz.) smooth Peanut Butter (I made my own, and added a pinch of salt)
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Vanilla Extract
  • 3 1/2 cups (425g / 15oz.) Confectioners' (Icing) Sugar
1. Place butter into a medium saucepan and melt it over medium heat.
2. Add brown sugar and milk, stirring.
3. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Remove from heat.
5. Mix in peanut butter and vanilla.
6. Place confectioners' sugar into a large mixing bowl.
7. Pour hot peanut butter mixture over confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth.
8. Pour fudge into an 8 by 8 inch (20cm by 20cm) pan.
9. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.
10. Cut into 1-inch (25 mm) squares.

I packaged up the pretty, square pieces, and kept all of the unsightly and uneven ones for myself. It's a hard life, I tell you.

Do please go and look at all of the lovely recipes on the the Daring Kitchen site for this month... had it not been so oppressively hot for most of the month, the passionfruit ones really caught my eye and would have been one I'd have made. While you're there, remember to check the Daring blogroll and peruse some of the no doubt lovely creations from those bloggers that can follow directions. I hope I'll be back on track next month.


  1. It may not be first prize winning, but the last picture of the fudge wrapped up and tied looks just beautiful. I would be so happy to get that as a gift!

  2. How do you make your peanut butter?

  3. I have a VitaMix which is amazing for making nut butters. I use unsalted, roasted peanuts that I get in bulk from my co-op, then start them out on a slowish setting to make sure they all get ground up well (I aim for almost a "peanut flour") before increasing the speed and letting the machine grind it into butter. I also add a pinch of salt - otherwise it does taste like something is missing!


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