Monday, December 27, 2010

{ holiday sharing: the world's best peanut butter fudge }

Even though the holidays are winding down, I've been meaning to share some of our family's traditions with you. But, better late than never, right?! So, without further adieu, I give you my grandma's world class peanut butter fudge recipe. Well, it may not be world class, but she was certainly known for her candy making skills in Miamisburg, Ohio where she was affectionately known as The Candy Lady.

My grandma, Mary Braunlin, made a lot of candy every year for gifts. There was even an article in the local paper about her in 1982 where she talked about the tradition and how it started:

Christmas memories of mine date back to 1950 when I married Dr. E.L. Braunlin and moved to Miamisburg, just across from the Miamisburg library on Central.

I never went Christmas shopping. I always made candy for my friends. I remember the first milkman was George Hanson. I sent home some cookies and candy. Don Helriggle, telephone. So it started, every October I would start my candy, freeze what I could and worked right up to Christmas. I made 10 different kinds.

Each year the list grew, postman, doctors, dentists, school teachers, ministers, friends, neighbors, policemen, patients at Dartmouth Hospital, etc.

Then we moved to Evans Ave., new neighbors, etc., but I still remembered my old friends.

My husband one year decided to keep track of what I used. Over 400 pounds of sugar, 55 rolls of Saran Wrap, 10 gallons of shelled pecans besides black walnuts, but he didn't mind. In fact he was always adding names to the list.

When he passed away in 1968, I still made candy until about 1975, my health became a factor. So last year I started teaching my daughter, Rayetta. She now has mastered three different kinds, pralines, peanut butter fudge, and chocolate fudge. So you can see I have some beautiful memories of Christmas, so many friends remember my candy.

Seriously, can you even imagine using over 400 pounds of sugar?!

The World's Best Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine the sugar and milk in a heavy saucepan and cook over medium high heat, until the temperature reaches 234 degrees F, or the "soft-ball" stage in candy making. This will take about 10 minutes or so, depending on your stove, and it's important to not step away from the candy at any time because the sugar mixture can bubble up quickly. At 234 degrees, remove pan from heat and add peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, and vanilla, and combine until smooth. Then pour into a 8x8 pan and allow to cool.

And the key to my grandma's peanut butter fudge: Peter Pan Peanut Butter.

I've tried other brands, but it's never as good unless you use Peter Pan. That's what she used, and although I normally don't buy it {I'm a natural peanut butter kind of girl}, but I do make an exception when it's time to make the candy.

Here are some photos I took when I made my first batch the other day, because if you've never made candy like this before, it can be a bit intimidating. You'll need a candy thermometer, like this one.

Pour the milk and sugar into a heavy saucepan. I used a stainless steel pan with a copper bottom.

Give it a good stir and then turn the heat on. See those tiny bubbles along the edge?

They get bigger, pretty quickly.

And bigger.

And even bigger, so I'd recommend staying put in front of the stove during the whole time you're making the fudge.

Almost to 234! This takes about 10 minutes on my stove top.

Once you reach the magic number of 234 degrees, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, and vanilla extract.

Then pour into a pan and let cool. That's really the hard part because, if you're like me, you'll won't want to wait to taste it.

Once it's cooled to room temp, score and cut into small pieces. I usually cut mine into 2 inch squared pieces and individually wrap them in plastic wrap, just like my grandma did.

I've already made this twice in the past week. It's so good, and, as corny as it sounds, each bite reminds me of Christmases as a child, when my grandma made her candy for me. Please let me know if you make some. I'd love to hear what you think!
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