The kitchen is the heart of your home. As a mom, you sure do spend a lot of time there — more than you would like, probably. Bring your kids into the kitchen with you and make cooking a family affair. If you are looking for a dessert that your kids can help make, fudge is the one. Perfect for Christmas, Valentine’s Day or just a special dessert on an ordinary day, peanut butter fudge has appeal for the whole family.
While many of your favorite desserts date back thousands of years, fudge is a relatively new invention. Food historians say fudge was created in America, possibly on February 14, 1886. While the date is debatable, most stories agree that the initial batch of fudge came from a messed-up caramel recipe, when the maker accidentally allowed the sugar to recrystallize and shouted, “Oh fudge!” Fudge looks deceivingly simple, but the original recipes were difficult. Measurements and cooking time had to be precise and constant stirring was a must. If you have ever tried to make fudge using chocolate, butter, sugar and cream, you know it can be tricky.
Fudge in a Flash
If you are too busy to fuss with a thermometer — and what mom isn’t? — use this simple recipe for peanut butter fudge that your toddler or preschooler can help with. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper (or have your little one grease the pan with margarine). Place 6 tablespoons of margarine, 3 1/2 cups of icing sugar, 1/2 cup of sifted cocoa, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup of milk or soy milk in a heat-proof mixing bowl or the upper part of a double boiler. Be sure to have your little helper dump the ingredients in. Place the bowl or boiler over simmering water and stir the mixture until smooth. Add a little bit more milk if needed. Swirl in 1/2 cup peanut butter and remove from heat. Pour the mixture quickly into the prepared pan. To enhance the appearance, melt a bit more peanut butter and swirl it into the top of the fudge — this is a step your toddler or preschooler will love.
Chill in the fridge.
Customize your yummy batch of fudge to suit your family’s preferences. For your vegan or dairy-free friends, simply use soy milk instead of dairy. Add walnuts or pecans as a grown-up touch for Mom and Dad. At Christmas time, add crushed or cut up candy canes for a festive touch with a taste of peppermint. Mini marshmallows are kid-friendly additions sure to be approved by your toddler or preschooler. Or, sneak in some raisins, dried cranberries or dried cherries to add a healthy punch to your homemade dessert.
Wrap it Up
Once your family fudge is thoroughly cooled, remove it from the fridge and cut it into slices or squares. Serve it on a platter with candy canes or strawberries, depending on the occasion. Fudge is also a well-liked hostess gift. For gift-giving, arrange pieces of fudge in decorative paper muffin liners. Wrap with colored cellophane and close with a colored ribbon that suits the occasion. Or, buy an inexpensive decorative cardboard box, line with colored tissue paper and put a small piece of wax paper on the bottom. Carefully place the fudge inside.