The holidays are the perfect time of year to bring out some of our favorite recipes. While Thanksgiving tends to showcase more of the entrees and sides, Christmas seems to highlight more of our favorite dessert creations. For our family, peppermint fudge has been a scrumptious staple for years and I consider myself blessed that the boys still enjoy coming into the kitchen to help me make it.
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The recipe I use was originally one that came from Taste of Home (have to give credit where credit is due, right? Love Taste of Home!!!). However, I always found myself tweaking it here and there, trying different flavors and different add-ins. After awhile, I found myself making this peppermint version more often than not and the family ultimately voted this a must-have around the holidays.
The two younger of the three boys are typically willing to assist me in the kitchen ~ and I don’t even have to twist their arms most times! Of course, they know that helping me means that they have first opportunity to lick the spoons and pots. It’s fun measuring out the ingredients, mixing, pouring, and then patiently waiting together for everything to set and chill.
Our Family’s Favorite Peppermint Fudge Process
How We Begin
I actually like to gather and measure all my ingredients first ~ after reviewing the recipe, of course. It helps me to stay on track, not get frazzled and know that I have everything I need and know what I’m doing before diving into the process.
Once everything is measured, chopped and set aside, I take the 13×9 inch pan in which the fudge is going to settle and chill and line it with foil. Now, the foil has to be buttered and buttered well. I’ve done this two different ways:
- while the foil is lying flat on the counter or a cutting board.
- once the foil is placed inside the pan.
To be honest, as long as you are paying attention, it doesn’t matter which way you go. However, you do need to make sure that the butter is thinly, but completely, applied. It has to cover every inch of the foil so that the fudge doesn’t stick later in the process. However, you also don’t want the butter to clump. Once chilled, butter clumping will cause a “coagulation” of sorts around the peripheral edges of the fudge. While it’s not the worst thing in the world, it’s simply not a pretty picture (or tasty, to say the least).
Time to mix the ingredients
At this stage of the game, we head over to the stove, where we begin putting the ingredients together. I like to have the ingredients nearby so we can grab and add at the right time.
We start out with the remaining butter (I divided the two measurements in the recipe for you), sugar and milk in a large saucepan. It takes a little bit, but we bring it a rapid boil over medium heat. In order to prevent the milk from burning on the bottom of the pan, it’s important to stir constantly.
Once that rapid boil begins, we let the mixture cook for just about TWO MINUTES without stirring before removing it completely from the heat. At this point, it’s time to stir in the marshmallows until melted, followed by ALL the chocolate!!! Yes ~ ALL the chocolate – semi-sweet, milk and baking!
Finally, once everything is looking like a smooth pool of chocolate, we add in the peppermint.
Confession: I don’t measure this EXACTLY. A little more than the measured amount will be fine ~ just don’t add TOO much!
Now, it may take some arm strength at times to mix it all, so the boys and I take turns carefully mixing the ingredients all together. In the end, you have this deliciously looking ~ and SMELLING ~ saucepan filled with goodness.
The time has arrived to pour it in the pan!!
PS – don’t wait too long! This need to be something that happens once you note everything is mixed and mixed well.
PPS – this is a great time to add sprinkles, crushed candy cane pieces or other edible toppings so that they set right in while the fudge it cooling.
Cool, Cut and Cool Again
Cool for approximately one hour at room temperature ~ and in a safe place. It may be very tempting for anyone walking by to try to sneak a fingertip full of fudge. Don’t let them!! Encourage them to go wrap a present, order something on Amazon, sing some Christmas carols or watch a Christmas episode of Friends! I wouldn’t be opposed to taking the time to read a few articles from one of your favorite writers / bloggers (Clears throat ~ what? Selfish plugs are okay this time of year, right?).
After an hour on the counter, we score the fudge into squares (they end up being a little bigger than one inch), cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator for at least three to four hours. This allows the fudge to set and become firm.
WAITING IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF THE PROCESS (sniff, sniff, sob, sob).
However, this step is important because, once set, the fudge is easier to remove from the foil (provided it was buttered well). You can simply just pick it up out of the pan by the edges of the foil, place it on a cutting board, peel away the foil, and then reinforce the cut-lines to divide the fudge into portion-sized squares.
If, by chance, you choose not to add in sprinkles or the like earlier on in the process, this would be a good time to consider decorating with red, green or white icing. The sad part is that you would then probably need to let it settle a little longer ~ so maybe that would be good to add halfway through the refrigeration process. Hmm…(we’ve never added icing)
Honestly ~ Santa cleans the plate every year we leave him a piece ~ or three! How do I know? Because a number of years ago, we left a few squares out for him to enjoy. Ever since, he has requested that we leave him a small plate with a square or two every Christmas Eve. It does make me wonder if he simply doesn’t like my sugar cookies or gingerbread men. However, I think I can let it slide. I happen to know him fairly well and he’s a pretty neat guy (wink, wink).
As a family, we try to limit ourselves to one piece a day because it is such a rich and creamy treat. Not to mention, there are so many other festive treats to enjoy this time of the year. So – since we only have one piece a day, how do we store it?
I actually follow the recommendation Taste of Home gives ~ I take wax or parchment paper and line the inside of a container (I like to use Rubbermaid). I place one layer of pre-cut fudge squares down and then top that layer with more wax or parchment paper. Each container usually holds two layers of fudge.
Peppermint Fudge – An Annual Tradition
I have a house full of boys with a love for sweets! While we love holiday-themed ice cream, cookies, tarts and more, this is our go-to, must-make holiday dessert every Christmas season. As already noted, Santa is also a pretty big fan, so you know what we will be whipping up in the kitchen on Christmas Eve.
How about you? What edible deliciousness does Santa request from your kitchen every year?
NOTE FOR MY FOOD ALLERGY FRIENDS
This recipe calls for quite a bit of milk and milk-based products, so this one may be a difficult one for those with dairy allergies. However, for those who have egg, peanut or tree nut allergies (our youngest son has life-threatening allergies to these foods), we used Nestlé chips, Baker’s unsweetened baking bar, Jet•Puff marshmallows and McCormick Peppermint Extract. I highly recommend that you always check the ingredient labels AND the disclaimers. Our son cannot ingest foods manufactured in a facility that processes certain ingredients, nor foods processed on shared equipment.
Enjoy the refreshing combination of peppermint and chocolate in this delicious fudge recipe. Santa requests this year after year and we never fail to deliver! Makes 3 lbs.
- 1 ½ tsp butter
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 4 cups sugar
- 30 large marshmallows
- 16 oz semisweet chocolate chips
- 11.5 oz milk chocolate chips
- 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
- 1 ¼ tsp peppermint extract
- holiday-themed sprinkles or peppermint candy
Gather all the ingredients together and measure out in advance. This will help with keeping things organized and moving along smoothly.
Line a 13x9 inch pain with foil. Grease the foil with the 1 1/2 tsp of butter. Be sure to get every inch of the foil, but also be sure not to allow butter to clump in the foil.
In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the following: sugar, milk and 1 cup of butter. Bring this all to a rapid boil over medium heat, making sure to stir frequently.
Once it has come to a rapid boil, cook without stirring for approximately two minutes. Watch carefully. After the two minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat (I move to a trivet placed on the kitchen counter away from the heat of the stove).
Stir in the marshmallows until melted.
Stir in all the chocolate (chips and chopped) until melted.
Stir in the peppermint until well mixed and you don't see it sitting on top of the chocolate.
Immediately spread the above mixture into the already greased pan and cool for one hour. This would be when you would add in the sprinkles or crushed candy canes / peppermint, if so desired.
After the hour has passed, score the fudge into one inch squares. Refrigerate covered for at least three hours or until firm. Yes ~ sorry...there is more waiting to do. But remember ~ good things come to those who wait. If you did not choose to add sprinkles or crushed candy canes / peppermint, you could always take this opportunity to decorate each fudge square with icing.
Take the fudge out of the fridge and place on counter.
Once that step is complete, using the foil, lift the fudge out of the pan. Carefully remove the foil by peeling it down from the fudge. Once foil has been removed from the sides, take a knife and re-define those already cut lines one more time.
Enjoy your festive creation one piece at a time!! This is a very rich recipe, so you're going to want to store what you don't eat. Store between layers of waxed paper in airtight containers.