My grandmother could practically make a batch of fudge with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back. If my first attempt at using her recipe is any indication, I did not inherit those fudge making talents.
This is a photo of my first batch of fudge. Looks good, doesn’t it? Nicely set up, nicely cut into squares. It even tastes good — chocolaty, buttery and sweet. But when you bite down on a piece, the problem becomes pretty evident.
CRUNCH! As one co-worker put it, it’s “sandy.” Yes, it is gritty. According to my mother (whose name is Sandy but her fudge is not), I didn’t let it hold a rolling boil long enough and the sugar crystals did not break down — or something like that. Look, it’s all chemistry and I’m no chemist. It probably does not help that I’m trying to eyeball the stuff instead of using a candy thermometer, which, with any luck, will show up under the Christmas tree for me (Dad? Hello, Dad?).
I have always believed that in order to really succeed in the kitchen, one must fail at first. So I’ll be writing about this unsuccessful fudge attempt in my column next week, when I will also examine some other techniques for candy making. I know a lot of folks make candy during the holidays, so I’m interested to hear whether any of you have much experience making candy?