I was never good at languages, but speaking chocolate comes naturally. It dates back to my childhood, when my father, a dentist no less, designated the top drawer of the dining room bureau as "the candy drawer." He had a sweet tooth, and never did a day go by when he, my brother and I didn't visit this special hideout. I don't know why he told us about it. Maybe we caught him sneaking into it one evening, and we promised not to tell our mother IF we could visit the drawer ourselves.
I was interested only in the chocolate candy, and over the years I got to sample everything from the basic Hershey Bar to Whitman's Sampler and store-bought fudge. As a teenager, I tried making fudge myself, but I never managed to get it to firm up. I didn't care because it was just as tasty eating it with a spoon.
I have fond memories of a product called SWEL Fudge. It came in a can, and you mixed it with water and butter and cooked it for about 5 minutes. Sadly it's long gone from grocery shelves, but the thrill of eating it out of the pot while reading Nancy Drew mysteries lingers.
As a teenager, I tried baking chocolate cakes from a box mix. They tasted pretty good, but I really had nothing to compare them to. Only when I got an apartment and began cooking for myself did I make chocolate cake and brownies from actual recipes. The directions always made me nervous because they called for a double boiler to melt the chocolate.
One day I bought a small cast iron frying pan and tried melting a bar of dark chocolate in it. I kept the heat low and stirred the bar. Amazingly enough, it melted without incident. My diet hasn't been the same since.
Here is the easiest fudge recipe I know. It requires just 2 ingredients plus butter for greasing the pan. It's impossible to mess up.
Surprisingly Easy Fudge - makes 36 1-inch square pieces (adapted from Chocolate on the Brain)
Butter for greasing the pan
16 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 cup chocolate ice cream
Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, making sure that two ends of the foil overhang the pan slightly. Lightly rub the bottom and sides of the foil with butter. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a large, heavy frying pan over very low heat, stirring constantly. When the chocolate is about half melted, turn off the heat and keep stirring until it is fully melted.
Stir in the ice cream. When it has melted, pour the fudge into the prepared pan, smoothing it into the corners with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Carefully lift the ends of the foil and remove it and the fudge from the pan. Peel off and discard the foil. Place the fudge on a cutting board and, using a large knife, cut it into 36 pieces. Store at room temperature in a closed container or wrapped in foil or plastic.
Photo by Nancy Mills
Connect with Nancy Mills at momscookinghelp.blogspot.com