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Sweet memories of fudge, family
1230FUDGE
Peanut butter and chocolate fudge made by J.K. Devine and Lorrie Gill was shared at The Times. Both women say making the fudge is a family tradition. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Lorrie Gill’s peanut butter fudge

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 box confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans (optional)

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in peanut butter. Take off heat.

When the peanut butter has melted, add vanilla and stir. Stir in box of confectioner’s sugar, a little at a time. Mixture gets hard to stir as the sugar is added.

Add pecans.

Spread into buttered pan. Let cool.

Janet Devine’s fantasy fudge

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup of butter
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 jar marshmallow cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package of chips (semi-sweet, peanut butter, milk chocolate or butterscotch)
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts (optional)

Melt butter in pan on stove. Add milk and sugar, then bring to a boil at medium-high heat.

Boil for 5 minutes, stirring the entire time.

Remove from heat.

Add chips, vanilla and marshmallow cream.

Pour in a greased pan.

Cool.

Serve in small bites.

Source: Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme

Christmas may be over, but leftovers from the food festivities pepper my kitchen counters. And the most coveted one remains in the pan with a lid, preserving its yummy texture, taste and smell — fudge.

Each Christmas, I looked forward to feasting on the bite-size pieces of sugary treat my mother made for friends and family as gifts. And I was not alone.

While I loved devouring chocolate fudge, my dad would consume at least one piece of peanut butter fudge before it had a chance to cool in the pan if he happened to pass through the kitchen. My mother, however, would make at least one pan of butterscotch fudge to divide among herself and a few select people who shared the same preference.

My extended family members, who are scattered throughout Indiana and a few in New Jersey and Florida, also looked forward to the Christmas delivery of my mother’s fudge.

In fact, my aunt (by marriage) Leslie calls her own mother to brag “the fudge has arrived.”

Sadly, this year marks the first year that my family and I were devoid of my mother’s famous award-winning fudge. (She earned second place in the county fair years ago for her peanut butter concoction.) My mother died this summer.

However, I couldn’t let Christmas pass without at least attempting to recreate her famous fudge. It just would not seem like the holidays without it.

So, I decided to set out and make my first batch of “Fantasy Fudge” and share it with my colleagues at The Times.

Knowing this was my first foray into the fudge-making world, I concluded my first attempts might be unfavorable. And I thought the Times staffers didn’t deserve subpar fudge.

Therefore, I enlisted the help of a fellow Times staffer’s wife to add her savory fudge to the mix. And I am sure glad I did for two reasons: her fudge was better and it is her family’s tradition as well.

Reporter Jeff Gill’s wife, Lorrie, told me that her grandmother always made fudge at Christmas.

“I always thought it was the best peanut butter fudge,” she wrote in an email to me this week. “It wasn’t Christmas without her fudge.”

It was comforting for me to hear those words. While my fudge was nowhere near as good as my mom’s, it did not feel like Christmas without some small morsel of it in my parents’ house.

My mother started her fudge-making tradition as Christmas presents when she and my father “didn’t have two nickels to rub together.” She found a recipe on a jar of Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme. The six ingredients and quick prep and cook time proved useful for a wife and mother of two children living on a budget.

After a few stops and starts, my mother could turn out one batch in 30 minutes or less, depending on how quickly her stove heated. Then, she picked up tins of all shapes and size to place the creamy treat into and either hand-delivered, stuck under the tree or shipped off to the Northern or Southern relatives.

Thus, the Devine fudge tradition was born.

Lorrie Gill said she started making fudge because she wanted her own family to have the same tradition as she did when she was a child.

“It also always reminds me of grandma,” she said.

Her grandmother apparently found her recipe in a similar way as my mother.

“Actually my grandma found the recipe on the back of a box of something (maybe it was confectioner’s sugar) many years ago,” she said.

Gill’s recipe contains five ingredients with nuts being optional and takes her 10-15 minutes to make.

While she mainly stirs up a batch of fudge at Christmastime, she makes it other times throughout the year.

My mother was the same. While living in Florida, her visits usually included a question: Do you want me to make you some fudge to take to work?

“Yes, please,” I said quickly.

The responses from co-workers were verbal and non-verbal. Some would declare her fudge as the best. Others would pile a handful of chocolate or peanut butter fudge into a napkin or plate and sneak back to their desk, making the portion last as long as possible.

Gill’s fudge received similar kudos from Times co-workers recently.

“It tastes like a spoonful of peanut butter,” Times sports reporter Zack Myers said. “You don’t have to chew it. (You can) mash it with your tongue.”

Gill said most family members say “they like how creamy and soft it is.” It is a nice compliment for a woman who doesn’t consider herself to be the best cook.

“It is nice to be told that they really like the fudge,” she said. “It is such a great recipe and hard to mess up.”

For my fudge experience this year, some co-workers offered these kind words.

“Who wants peanut butter fudge when you can have chocolate?” Times Metro Editor Shannon Casas asked.

And reporter Nick Watson added “You are not trying to kill everyone with sugar, but it has an interesting kick at the end.”

However, copy editor Steven Welch summed it up best.

“It brought me back to when I was but a wee lad, standing on a stool in my grandmother’s kitchen as she made her own fudge for the family members that would soon be filling her house with Christmas joy,” he said. “Her love for all of us was evident in every square she cut.”

And I think that’s how my mom and Gill’s grandmother meant it when they made it.

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