AN HOMAGE TO THE CONFECTIONER

recipe + photography by BILLY DOUKAS

Peanut Butter Fudge

As a youngster, I was indulged by my grandfather who retired from his confectionery business in Lewiston, where fudge was his specialty. Of all the flavors he continued to make, peanut butter was my favorite. This recipe closely resembles the taste and texture I recollect but the labor process is far different. Now, precision tools including the digital thermometer and induction cooktop have removed much of the guesswork behind concocting this sweet treat.

Yield: 48 pieces, 2 x 1 x 1 inches each

Prep and cook time: 30 minutes

6 ounces unsalted butter
5 ounces evaporated milk
3 cups granulated sugar
7 ounces miniature marshmallows or marshmallow creme
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup unsalted or partially salted roasted peanuts
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Helpful Tools

  • Brownie pan or sheet cake pan, approximately 8 x 12 x 1 inches
  • Candy thermometer, preferably digital
  • Induction cooktop (allows temperature settings of 10º increments)
  • 4-quart saucepan (induction ready)
  • Wooden spoon for mixing
  • Pastry brush
  • Rubber or silicone scraper/spatula

Prepare marshmallow, peanut butter, peanuts, salt and vanilla extract, so they are ready to go. Line brownie pan with aluminum foil, shiny side exposed.

Butter the inside of the saucepan and place on an induction cooktop set at 175°F, or on a stove-top burner set at medium-low. Add butter and evaporated milk; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until butter melts. Add sugar to the saucepot, stir and reset induction temperature to 275°F—medium heat on stove-top burner. Continue stirring and adjust your temperature targeting 234–238°F for the mixture. This is commonly known as the “soft ball stage” for the syrup. Use the candy thermometer to monitor.

If you detect crystalizing on the saucepot sides, use the pastry brush to wipe downward.

Once temperature is reached (approximately 10–15 minutes), sustain the temperature range of 234–238°F for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add marshmallow, whisking vigorously until melted. Add peanut butter and whisk again. Finally, add peanuts, salt, vanilla extract and mix briefly. Pour this thickened syrup into a foil-lined pan, and use a spatula to push out the remainder without scraping the sides. Allow to cool for ½ hour, cover with foil and place in the fridge for 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

Use the foil to lift the hardened slab out of the pan then peel off foil. Set fudge on a cutting board, score and cut into preferred-size pieces. Typically, 4 columns by 12 rows works well. This delightful confection keeps well, refrigerated in an airtight container, for at least 2 weeks.

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