So, it’s December. I’m still not entirely sure how that happened, because I can assure you that I spent the entire month of November thinking that it was October, and now, here we are, a month later (and apparently, according to my internal clock, two months later). I’m sure the warm weather here messes with your circadian rhythms, as surely as living in Alaska for a month in the summer will guarantee that you require less sleep. It has been warm here (Arizona, not Alaska), but in the week that I’ve been back after Thanksgiving in Colorado, we’ve had rain twice, and several cloudy days. It’s not exactly snow (and it’s supposed to be almost 80 on Monday), but I’m taking what I can get.
What I’ve got, also, is a dearth of holiday recipes on this site. As many of you have undoubtedly surmised, we’re not a religious bunch. We celebrate Christmas, because it’s what people do, and I love it. I love Christmas lights, the smell of the tree, and most of all, watching A Sesame Street Christmas (circa 1979) every single year. In spite of that, however, I must tell you: I’m sort of a Scrooge about a lot of other things. Six years of singing Christmas carols (or generic holiday carols, because there was always something else thrown into the mix, which, let’s be clear – that was a blessed relief), including three years singing The Messiah will do that to a girl. I love The Nutcracker music, however, so if you’re here and I’m in a wintery mood, that will almost inevitably be playing. And I love Charlie Brown’s Christmas, and The Grinch (the animated version, mind you), and watching White Christmas with my sister.
I also love, love, love making Christmas cookies, which will ultimately have to be a post for another time. I love giving food as gifts during the holidays, and as a graduate student, this has really served me well. Last year, because I’d promised to knit socks for three people (I’m never doing that again, I’ll tell you that for free) and hadn’t finished them, I sent one of my friends off on her merry way with this: the easiest fudge ever. Many of you might shake your heads and say, “That’s not fudge”; you wouldn’t exactly be wrong, but it tastes like fudge, and for any aspiring bakers out there who have yet to master the candy thermometer (yours truly included), this is a foolproof recipe (and by foolproof, I mean – I dare you to see if anyone can really tell the difference between this and the fancy kind).
Easiest Chocolate Fudge (adapted, just barely, from Martha Stewart)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups marshmallows
2 cups chocolate of your choice (dark, semi-sweet, white, etc), chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
Layer two sheets of parchment paper crosswise in a 9″x9″ pan (so you can lift it out easily). In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, salt, butter, heavy cream, and marshmallows. Stir while heating, until marshmallows are just integrated into the mixture. Increase heat to medium-high or high, and bring mixture to a boil. Cook for approximately five minutes, keeping an eye on the mixture and stirring as necessary (I am probably weirder than most people about heating milk products, so I stir more or less constantly, but I’m fairly casual about the whole thing). Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl; pour marshmallow mixture over the top, and stir to combine. Add vanilla, and stir again. Pour liquid fudge into pan, smoothing it out with a spatula to ensure even distribution (and equal size pieces, ultimately!). Allow to cool for at least two hours before cutting.
P.S: Want to know which fudge recipe I’m trying out this year? It’s this one. Maybe with almond butter.