August 29, 2009

Harvest Fudge

Cranberries, cinnamon, and hazelnuts are classic ingredients in many fall desserts and this creamy, sweet fudge combines all three in a brown sugar-vanilla base. The small squares are intensely rich, so a small batch goes a long way.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

* 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
* 1/2 cup dried cranberries
* 1/4 cup butter, chopped
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 2/3 cup heavy cream
* 2/3 cup evaporated milk
* 2 tbsp hazelnut flavoring or syrup (if available)
* 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon


1. Prepare an 8x8 square pan by spraying it with nonstick spray or covering it with foil.

2. If you have a standing mixer, place the mixing bowl in the freezer to chill. If not, place a large metal or glass bowl in the freezer.

3. Combine the butter, sugars, cream, and evaporated milk in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugars are dissolved and the butter is melted.

4. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and continue boiling for 3 minutes.

5. Remove the cover and insert a candy thermometer. Boil the mixture until it reaches soft ball stage, 240 degrees F.

6. Once it reaches 240, immediately remove from the heat and pour it into your cold bowl that has been chilling in the freezer. Allow the candy to cool to lukewarm, about 30-45 minutes.

7. Once the candy is lukewarm, beat it. If you are using an electric mixer, beat the fudge with a paddle attachment on low speed until it starts to thicken and turns lighter in color. If you are not using a mixer, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.

8. Once the mixture has slightly thickened, pour in the cinnamon, vanilla and hazelnut flavoring. Continue to beat until the mixture loses its shine and starts to become stiff—approximately 5 more minutes.

9. Gently fold in the hazelnuts and cranberries, and scrape the mixture into the prepared square pan, smoothing the surface. Allow the fudge to set at room temperature for an hour, then refrigerate overnight before cutting into 1x1 inch squares.

Hint: If you would like your cranberries to be a little juicer, try placing them in a bowl of boiling water for 5 minutes, then draining them before use. The hot water partially rehydrates the berries and plumps them up nicely.

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