Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Double Fudge Disappointment
Sometimes, the most promising things in life turn out to be the most disappointing. And so it was with this Double Fudge.
The recipe looked amazing -- a two-layer bar candy whose ingredients are chocolate, heavy cream, sugar, butter and nuts. And all cooked in a single saucepan. What could be better? My mouth was watering as I prepared the bottom layer, even though I could sense not all was going well. The mixture seemed a bit too grainy and the instructions to cook for seven minutes were a bit cryptic. Should I stir the entire time, do I start timing after the butter melts, how high should I make the flame were just some of my unanswered questions.
I especially wanted to make this because I'm reading a fascinating new book, The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins, which chronicles the rivalry between William Randolph Heart's New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World. The Double Fudge recipe is from The New York Evening Telegram Cook Book published in 1908.
The bottom layer was ok. But the top layer was a disaster -- it somehow seized in the pan, turning into a sandy mess instead of the smooth caramel topping I was expecting. Still, in the face of disappointment, I continued on hoping for the best. But it was not to be.
I let the candy cool after I somehow managed (using an offset spatula and a lot of force) to spread the top layer.
But when I tried to cut it into squares, it mostly crumbled and fell apart; the two layers had an almost reverse magnetic force and seemed to repel one another. Plus, between the odd texture and the EXTREME sweetness (and I like sweet), it was unpleasant to eat. Luckily I had another dessert to serve for Father's Day dinner, a blueberry pie, the subject of a future post.
But never one to let disappointment have the final word, I plan to research and apply more modern-day candy making techniques to this diamond-in-the-rough recipe. Sometimes, when things don't work out as we plan, we're reluctant to throw good sugar after bad and walking away seems the easiest path. But, with attention and nurture and compromise, almost every problem (in baking and in life) can be solved. And the reward is perfectly sweet and rich. And sometimes, with luck, the best ever.