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Making Fudge

The holidays just wouldn't be complete without a batch of delicious fudge. Whip some up for a scrumptious gift, then make more for the whole family to enjoy. Our recipe is so simple that kids can do most of the work themselves -- for some, the hardest part will be waiting patiently for the fudge to cool. The steps move along quickly, so read the recipe carefully before starting and have all the tools and ingredients ready. Keep in mind that fudge can be made with white chocolate or peanut-butter chips, not just semisweet chocolate. For an even happier holiday, make a batch of each.

Work Time: 20 minutes
Cooling Time: 3 hours

For the Fudge:
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 3/4 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Mix-Ins:
3/4 cup crushed peppermints
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Line 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with strips of waxed or parchment paper; coat evenly with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Combine sugar, salt, butter, cream, and marshmallows in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Set over medium heat; cook, stirring, until butter and marshmallows are almost melted, 5 to 6 minutes.

3. Bring mixture to a boil; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. An adult should remove the pan from the heat.

4. Add chocolate chips and vanilla to saucepan. Stir until chips are melted and combined. If you like, mix in 1/2 cup peppermints or nuts.

5. An adult should pour hot fudge into the loaf pan. Top with remaining mints or nuts.

6. Cool fudge in the pan, at room temperature, 3 hours. Grip paper, lift out fudge, and place on cutting board. Discard paper. An adult should cut fudge into squares.

Amazing Shapes
You can use cookie cutters to delight your loved ones with fudge shaped as snowflakes or bite-size "drops." Instead of using a loaf pan, pour a double batch of fudge into a lined and greased 9-by-13-inch pan; let cool, remove from pan, then cut with cookie cutters. For the snowflakes, dust the fudge with confectioners' sugar. Pack it in a box lined with waxed paper to avoid sticking. The fudge will keep at room temperature for ten days in an airtight container.

Fancy Wrapping
For an irresistible candy bar, make one from fudge. Cool fudge in a loaf pan, then cut horizontally into bars. Place fudge bars in glassine or waxed-paper bags; roll to close. Decorate with a strip of wrapping paper (a good use for scraps) and tape to secure. Tie on a ribbon; if you like, thread through a small ornament first.


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