I take as much joy in eating a square of excellent chocolate as the next chocolate lover.
That being said, I’m never going to turn down a dessert made with chocolate. Fudge, to me, is one of the best happy mediums. It’s a canvas that allows you to add more flavors and ingredients while still allowing the chocolate to shine through.
This recipe appealed to me for how closely it resembles Rocky Road ice cream and s’mores. Credit Jessie Sheehan with uncovering an original 1928 recipe that she includes in her new book, “The Vintage Baker: More Than 50 Recipes From Butterscotch Pecan Curls to Sour Cream Jumbles.”
I especially appreciate Sheehan’s work because instead of worrying about a candy thermometer to get the timing and temperature right, she uses sweetened condensed milk, which she says cuts the time needed to create the right consistency. The fudge, however, is not overly sweet.
The recipe calls for dark chocolate, and we liked the fudge best with 70 percent cacao chocolate. As I mentioned, chocolate is still the star ingredient, so be sure you use high-quality chocolate. The batches I made with Guittard were excellent, while another using lesser grocery store bars did not have the same richness or depth of flavor.
Another thing I like about this recipe: It all comes together in a single bowl. Just don’t cut corners by changing the method of melting the chocolate. Here you’ll create a double boiler by setting a heatproof bowl filled with the chocolate over a saucepan of heated water.
By using indirect heat to gently melt the chocolate, you reduce the risk of burning it, which could happen if you put it directly into the saucepan, according to Matt Dixon, the lead chocolate maker at Washington chocolatier Harper Macaw. The cacao solids (that’s what the percentage stands for) are especially susceptible to scorching. When using a double boiler, Dixon cautions, be sure not to get water into the chocolate, which could cause it to seize up and develop clumps. (If that does happen, Cook’s Illustrated recommends, counterintuitively, reversing the process by stirring in boiling water 1 teaspoon at a time until it’s smooth again.)
Don’t be afraid to use this fudge recipe as a base and then switch things up with other mix-ins. Dried fruit, different types of nuts, toffee bits: It all will work well here.
Salted Marshmallow Walnut Fudge
Yield: 36 servings; pieces makes one 8-inch pan
If you have ever found the prospect of making fudge too intimidating or fussy, this marshmallow-studded version will convince you otherwise.
Make ahead: The fudge needs to set in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Beyond that, it will last a week at room temperature, tightly wrapped or in an airtight container.
Adapted from “The Vintage Baker: More Than 50 Recipes From Butterscotch Pecan Curls to Sour Cream Jumbles,” by Jessie Sheehan (Chronicle Books, 2018).
16 ounces dark chocolate, preferably about 70 percent, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon table salt
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped (see note)
3 cups mini marshmallows
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking oil spray, then line it with wax paper, leaving some overhang on the sides to help you extract the slab of fudge later.
Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water; place over medium-low heat. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl that can sit over the saucepan (to create a double boiler; the bowl should be large enough to eventually contain all the ingredients). Once the chocolate starts to melt, use a flexible spatula to stir constantly until smooth.
Add the table salt, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract; increase the heat to medium or medium-high, stirring to incorporate for about a minute or two. The chocolate may seize up a bit, but keep stirring. Once the mixture is smooth, stir for about 1 minute more, then remove from the heat.
Add the walnuts and marshmallows; stir or fold them in until evenly distributed (the marshmallows will not melt). Transfer the fudge mixture to the prepared pan. Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap and flatten with your hands, then uncover just long enough to sprinkle the surface with flaky sea salt and turbinado sugar.
Re-cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until firm. Use the waxed-paper overhang to transfer the fudge to a cutting board, then use a sharp knife to cut the slab into 36 equal pieces.
NOTE: Toast the walnuts by spreading them on a baking sheet and baking in a 350-degree oven, shaking the sheet occasionally, for 10 to 13 minutes until fragrant and nicely browned. Watch carefully; nuts can burn quickly. Cool completely before using.
Nutrition | Per serving: Calories: 150; Total Fat: 9 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 5 mg; Sodium: 100 mg; Total Carbohydrates: 18 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugars: 15 g; Protein: 3 g