While I love making classic Christmas sugar cookies and spending too much time pain-stakingly decorating each one, when it comes to holiday treats to gift I actually turn to fudge. It is so rich and decadent and festive for the holiday season.
It also packs very well and lasts much longer than cookies. If all goes according to plan, it is also surprisingly simple to make and makes for a fun festive day in the kitchen.
I picked up this evergreen arrangement at my corner deli in the city and thought it would be the perfect kitchen centerpiece for the holidays. I couldn't find the tall vase I wanted to use so I grabbed this antique drink pitcher from the bar and I actually really liked the way it turned out. The extra embellishment made it an interesting contrast against the wooden board and it felt extra festive.
To add a little more to the arrangement, I snipped some evergreen and greens from outside and placed them in the two matching bar glasses.
With the holiday flowers set, a Frank Sinatra Christmas playlist on I was ready to go!
I made two variations, the Holiday Chocolate version (recipe below) and a White Chocolate version. The white chocolate however ended up being much more difficult so that recipe will need a few adjustments.
Overall, white chocolate takes much longer to melt and is difficult to melt through consistently. I think it also requires less condensed milk and butter than the chocolate version. The end result was delicious but it ended up taking double the time if not more to harden.
The cinnamon is definitely the star of the show with the white chocolate as it really brings out the flavor. You can also shave a bit of nutmeg for an egg-nog like taste.
Here is where I ran into a bit of trouble getting the chocolate to melt smoothly. To be fair, for both of these second batches I was trying to photograph the steps so I did not use a double boiler. You certainly can do it without the double boiler if you are short on time but you really need to stir constantly and keep an eye on chocolate so it doesn't burn in the bottom of the pan.
On to the second version, which thankfully melted without any trouble.
Be sure to transfer the chocolate to the parchment lined pan immediately before it starts to cool down and thicken up.
After smoothing it into the pan, I added pink sea salt to really bring out the dark chocolate flavor. You can get creative with the toppings- mixed nuts, crushed candy, dried fruit. Once the toppings are on, pop it in the fridge for several hours or even overnight.
While the fudge was chilling I prepped gift bags and ribbons to package up the fudge. Both the bags and ribbons are from Amazon.
I sliced up the fudge and wrapped it up in parchment paper packages, tied it with black ribbon, popped it in the bags and that was it- Holiday Fudge!
Recipe is below- I always double it and sometimes use actual chocolate bars chopped up instead of chocolate chips. Don't be shy on the cinnamon or vanilla or espresso- they really round out the sweetness of the chocolate and sweetened condensed milk.
If you go for the white chocolate version- let me know how it works and if you come up with any other tips or tricks.
Wishing you the Happiest of Holidays and a very Merry Christmas!
20 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 Tablespoons of Salted Butter
1/2 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract (I also add fresh Vanilla bean)
1/4 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1 Teaspoon of Freshly Brewed Espresso- optional
Sprinkle of Cinnamon
Sea Salt to Finish
Grease an 8x8 pan and line with parchment paper (enough to cover the sides 3/4 of the way up)
Create a double boiler by combining all ingredients in a glass heat-proof bowl- move bowl to the side. Fill a saucepan about 1/2 way up with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, place glass bowl of ingredients on top of the water stirring consistently for about 6 minutes or until the chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth
Remove from heat, use spatula and pour into the prepared parchment-lined pan. Add sprinkle of sea-salt or any toppings and refrigerate for at least 3 hours
Once solid, peel off parchment paper, slice into small cubes and transfer to your desired containers or packaging.
*Note Fudge can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to one month or in the freezer for 2 months