It happens at my grocery store, and I am willing to bet my KitchenAid stand mixer that it happens at your grocery store too. Every year, no sooner has the store transferred all of the unwanted Halloween candy from the "seasonal" aisle to the bargain bin that the employees start erecting massive sculptures out of common holiday ingredients, which are conspicuously placed throughout the store.
The base of the sculpture is made out of something sturdy, such as 29-ounce cans of pumpkin or cranberry sauce. On top (in no particular order) you'll find Chex cereal, alternating layers of brown and confectioner's sugar, marshmallows, chocolate chips, peppermint extract, etc., etc. I guess that this monstrosity is meant to represent one-stop-shopping for the busy holiday cook.....except for the fact that no one dares to reach for a low-lying can of pumpkin, fearing that their selection might knock the sculpture down like a game of Jenga.
No holiday supermarket sculpture would be complete without a section composed out of Carnation Evaporated Milk, also known as "The Cooking Milk." From creamy pumpkin pie to rich casseroles, evaporated milk is a pantry necessity for this time of year. I was excited to open an email a few weeks ago from a Cassie, who works for the One2One Network representing the Carnation brand. She generously offered to send me some free cans of Carnation Evaporated Milk and a gift card to cover the cost of ingredients so that I could experiment with a few recipes that feature evaporated milk and then blog about them. As you can imagine, it didn't take a great deal of pondering for me to accept the offer. Hmmm.....let me see.....
The pondering came when I had to decide exactly which recipes I would prepare. Cassie asked that I make one recipe from a holiday recipe booklet that she sent and also one of my own recipes. The recipe booklet decision was tough enough. Not only does it feature more commonly known recipes for baking with evaporated milk, but many savory ones as well. Since it's available in regular, low-fat, and fat-free varieties, their evaporated milk can be substituted for the kind of milk that you normally use in your cooking. Who knew? I eventually settled on this extremely quick and easy fudge recipe. Let me tell you, if you're in a pinch over the holiday season, this is the perfect homemade gift solution. I mean, who doesn't love fudge? Anyone? Anyone? Exactly.
As for my second recipe, well, I just couldn't narrow my decision down to one. So I made two. I know, I'm such an over-achiever. Stop it. You're making me blush. Find out what I made in my next two posts (I'm sure the suspense is killing you.) Here are my extra tips for making this fast (and famous!) fudge:
- One of the great things about fudge recipes is their versatility. With this recipe, you can substitute hazelnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, or even peanuts for the walnuts/pecans. Bittersweet chocolate can be replaced by semisweet, milk chocolate, or a combination of the two. You can also used flavored chips, such as seasonal mint chocolate. Try replacing the vanilla extract with almond, cherry, or coconut. Mix in dried sour cherries, cranberries, or shredded coconut along with the nuts.
- The fudge will keep well, tightly covered and refrigerated, for 4-5 days.
- If your resulting fudge has a grainy or crumble texture, then you probably didn't stir it enough. Stirring constantly ensures a smooth and rich treat.
Carnation Famous Fudge
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup Carnation Evaporated Milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil. In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in the marshmallows, chocolate chips, nuts, and vanilla extract. Stir the mixture vigorously for 1 minute or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into the prepared baking pan. Refrigerate the pan for 2 hours or until firm. Lift the fudge from the pan and remove the foil. Cut into 48 pieces.