Some people don’t like fudge. As for me, I don’t have much trouble turning down fudge at a party. I can turn down gourmet fudge at a candy store. I can say no to the fudge that a co-worker brings from home. But I can’t turn down the fudge I grew up eating and learned to make as a kid—my mom’s “five-minute fudge” recipe.
I used to make that fudge for gifts when I was a teenager. I didn’t have much money to buy gifts, so Mom would give me the ingredients to make fudge, and I’d make up a batch or two as presents for my teachers, my friends, and my aunts and uncles.
The list of ingredients is like Christmas music to my ears—marshmallows, sugar, salt, vanilla, evaporated milk, butter, and chocolate—and nuts, if you like nuts. I do.
Of course, I always saved out some for me. I used to take a couple of pieces of fudge into the dark living room, lit only by the lights on the Christmas tree, and eat it slowly, looking at the tree and daydreaming, sipping a mug of hot tea or washing down the fudge with cold milk.
I took a bite of fudge, and I dreamed.
Some day I will fall in love … some day I will have children of my own … some day I will sit next to my own Christmas tree in my very own house with adoring dogs at my feet and I will be a mature adult full of experience and wisdom. I will be beautiful and thin and funny and people will say, “Oh, what an exhilirating life she must have.”
And I took another bite of fudge.
The years passed. A couple decades of them, actually, which deposited me in the mature, experienced, wise adult life I live today. A life, incidentally, that hasn’t seen much fudge in recent years.
Chris doesn’t like fudge much, and in particular he doesn’t like fudge with nuts in it, so for several years I didn’t make it because it is hard to eat fudge in front of someone who says that pecans taste like hair and make him want to gag. Some years I felt I didn’t have time to make and package a batch of fudge; there is, naturally, not much extra time in the exhilirating, funny life I lead, surrounded by children and adoring dogs, and envied by all. And last year I wanted to make fudge, but I was on a diet (having not remained as thin as I dreamed I would). I could just see myself losing all restraint and licking the fudge spoon and pot like a madwoman, then tearing into the fudge tins and eating all of it myself. So I didn’t make it last year.
But this year, I’ve managed to maintain a healthy weight for ten months, while eating reasonable portions of desserts. As December started, I was confident that I could make fudge, enjoy it, and share it too. And not lick the pot.
Also, I knew the boys would eat fudge if I made it. Jonah and Neeley ask for chocolate every day. I believe Neeley believes chocolate is the first course of every meal, and he gets pretty indignant when I suggest he eat his dinner first.
So I made fudge this December. And I made a lighter version of it; fudge is so rich that you can dial down the sugar and fat a little and still feel the thrill of fudgy indulgence.
Since making the fudge last weekend, I’ve been well behaved. I licked the spoon only once and the pot not at all. I’ve eaten only small portions myself. I shared fudge with the boys (but not the adoring dogs, who are sadly overweight); I shared it with my co-workers; and, if there’s any left this weekend, I’m going to share with the folks who come to our church Christmas program … provided that God gives me the strength to hand over the fudge tin when the time comes.
If self control is one of the assets you’ve developed in your mature, experienced, and wise adult life, make this fudge before Christmas. And if it isn’t, make the fudge anyway. It’s never too late to learn self control. And your kids, if you have them, deserve the chance to dream over a piece of fudge.
4 cups mini marshmallows
1 ½ cup sugar (substitute Splenda for ½ cup to ¾ cup of the sugar for a lower-sugar version)
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup evaporated milk (skim is fine)
¼ cup butter or margarine
12 oz semisweet chocolate pieces
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
Combine marshmallows, milk, butter, sugar and salt in saucepan. Stirring, bring mixture to full boil. Boil for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add chocolate pieces, beating until melted. Do not overbeat. Fold in vanilla and nuts. Pour into greased 9-inch square pan. Chill until firm, then cut into small squares.