It's candy making time! My favorite part of Christmas is the candy making. I remember helping my mother make candy as a child. I remember her teaching me all the little tricks to get the candy to turn out perfectly and my sisters and my mom and I standing around visiting while the candy cooked, taking turns stirring the toffee, because it's a long process and has to be stirred continuously, listening for the mixer to down shift, signaling that the fudge is finished, getting to be the first one to try a piece.
Love it. Candy making is as much in my blood as potatoes and my religion. (I'm a fifth generation Idahoan and my Grandfather was a potato farmer in Eastern Idaho, just in case you were wondering how inbred religion and potatoes could be.)
If you would like to see pictures of the fudge making process, read this post on making chocolate fudge.
Peanut Butter Fudge
1/4c light corn syrup
1/2 t salt
1/2 c milk*
1 c heavy cream
1/2 c peanut butter
2 t vanilla
In a 4 quart heavy bottomed pan, stir together everything but the peanut butter and vanilla. Put a lid on the pan and turn on the burner to medium heat. Let it cook with the lid on until the candy has boiled for 3-5 minutes. This is called sweating the pan and is very important. Meanwhile while the pan is sweating, rinse off that spoon you stirred your candy with earlier. You need a clean wooden spoon with no sugar crystals clinging to it to stir the candy once it boils.
After the candy has boiled with the lid on for 3-5 minutes, remove the lid and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Stir occasionally until the candy reaches 238 degrees. Watch carefully because you do not want to over cook the candy. If you have a stand mixer, immediately pour out the cooked candy into the bowl of your stand mixer. Only pour out the candy that will pour easily out of the pan. Do not scrape the pan. I'll say it again. DO NOT get out your spatula and carefully get out all the last little drops of candy. Don't. You'll cause your fudge to crystallize. It won't be creamy. Just pour it out and stop when you get only a small, thin stream of candy.
If you do not have a stand mixer, leave it in the pan.
When the candy has cooled to about 120-110 degrees you can start whipping it. Add the peanut butter and the vanilla and beat it with the flat beater. If you have a Kitchen Aid, speed 6 is just about right.
If you don't have a mixer you will have to beat it by hand. Stir with a wooden spoon using a strong, firm hand. You will want to have friends around to take turns with you and start beating when it's about 120 so it's softer when you start.
You beat until the mixture loses that glossy look. It will turn matte and if you are mixing in a mixer it will look like frosting in the bowl.
When it's done beating, scrape out the bowl into a buttered 9x9 baking dish. Pat it flat and cover with plastic wrap. make sure the plastic covers the surface of the fudge. Eat when it's cool.
*The recipe base (vanilla fudge) came from my grandmother who was a depression era lady. The milk was supposed to make the cream go farther. You can make this with all cream if you like. I do the part milk, part cream because I can get four batches of fudge from one quart of cream that way. I make a lot of fudge as gifts and it's nice to have the cream go farther. It comes out just fine with a lovely creamy mouth feel even with the milk in it.