If you never learn one other fact about Mamie Eisenhower, you need to know this. She brought with her to the White House a recipe for fudge made with marshmallow fluff that requires no candy thermometer. We have been making this for years and it is by far my favorite fudge recipe. It is easy. It is delicious. It is festive. And, it is not only a great treat to have around at Christmas, but it also makes superb gifts for neighbors and friends.
We have changed Mamie’s recipe. Everyone has. The original “million dollar fudge” recipe in the government archives calls for German’s Chocolate. I use Semi-Sweet and milk chocolate. I highly recommend using plain Hershey’s Bars for the milk chocolate and Toll House semi-sweet morsels for the semi-sweet chocolate. I have used “better” and “fancier” chocolates for this but the outcome doesn’t justify the massive jump in price and these basic ingredients have a more predictable outcome.
Some words of warning: Candy making involves boiling sugar and milk to ridiculously high temperatures. It is all about bubbling cauldrons so you need to have all of your attention devoted to watching the pot for the entire time it is on the stove. And, when you start boiling the sugar mixture you need to make sure the kids and dogs are out of the kitchen.
Also important, by the time you start the fire under the sugar and milk, you need to have completed every other task in the recipe. You really cannot work backwards here. So before you do anything, know that you must choose and butter your pans; you must select and sift your pecans in a colander to get all of the “dust” and little pieces out; and, you must break up and put all of your chocolates together in a giant bowl with the butter and vanilla. Finally, remove the lids from your marshmallow fluff jars and have them ready to go.
After you have put the finished fudge in your tins or dishes it takes several hours to cool thoroughly and set. And, I recommend doing this recipe a whole day ahead of when you want to give it away or serve it so it has plenty of time to set.
In these photos, I have made a DOUBLE batch which is a massive amount of fudge. It resulted in 6 pounds of fudge (six 8.5”x 4” tins and a 12” x 7.5” oval dish). Here, I will give you the SINGLE batch recipe. But, you need to anticipate having plenty of containers ready to go for approximately 150 square inches of fudge. If you want to serve it in cut squares, I recommend putting parchment on square or rectangular pans so you can lift it out once it is set and cut it.
4-½ cups sugar
1 can (full size) evaporated milk
2 Tablespoons butter
16 ounces Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars (4 of the 4.4oz. bars is perfect, actually)
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate morsels
14 ounces marshmallow cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 to 1-½ pounds pecans, sifted (I leave mine in “whole” halves…you may chop them coarsely)
Prepare pans by buttering them thoroughly.
In a very large bowl, place the broken up chocolates, chocolate chips, vanilla and butter. Set aside.
Combine the milk and sugar in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. It takes a long time for the temperature to rise to this level so be patient and keep stirring so the sugar does not scorch. Maintain the mixture at a steady boil for at least 8 minutes, stirring constantly and adjusting the stove as necessary to avoid a boil over (this happens quickly and unexpectedly…be prepared).
After the sugar has boiled for 8 minutes, CAREFULLY pour the mixture into the bowl of chocolate. With a large spoon, begin to stir the chocolates. Once it is somewhat mixed you can switch to a hand held mixer. Continue to mix until it is smooth. Add the marshmallow cream and then continue to mix until it is completely incorporated and the chocolate lightens and becomes a bit more dull in appearance instead of shiny. This requires a lot of mixing, and the fudge needs a lot of mixing in order to set up properly. Add in the pecans and stir well. At this point you can spoon big blobs of fudge into buttered tins or pour it into dishes. You have but a short period of time to smooth things out before it starts to set. Once it begins to set, any work you do to the surface will leave it unattractive. Set the tins and dishes aside and let them cool completely for at least 5 hours and up to 24.