Friday, January 25, 2013

Recipe: Rocky Road Fudge

Rocky Road has been my go-to ice cream flavor since childhood; it's like getting three treats in one - indulgently rich chocolate, soft & fluffy marshmallows and the nutty crunch of almonds.

Of course the weather isn't always right for ice cream, so when I later found out that rocky road can mean any number of chocolate-marshmallow-crunch concoctions, I started experimenting with other sweets with that combo too. Fudge quickly became a front runner; it's infinitely more evergreen, more portable and arguably more healthy too, considering that I can get my chocolate fix satisfied with one little square (OK, maybe three.)

But of course, what's absolutely great about this Rocky Road Fudge is that it's a cinch to make and they're perfect bite-sized treats to bring to a party, box up as an edible gift, or simply stock away in the fridge to polish away whenever that craving hits.

Ingredients: (for approx. 60 bite-sized squares)
12 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks (my usual go to are the 60% cacao bittersweet chips from Fresh & Easy, which has a deep fruity cocoa flavor but not overly bitter or intense.)
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
6 oz. raw almonds, coarsely chopped (walnuts/pecans work fine too)
4 oz. mini marshmallows
Optional: 1 oz. Amaretto, Coffee or Frangelico liqueur (the last is my favorite to add)
Making fudge
1. Line a 8"x12" pan with aluminum foil, pressing carefully along edges & corners so you don't pierce the foil.
2. In a skillet, toast the almonds over medium heat on the stove, tossing regularly so that they don't burn. Once you smell roasted nut aromas, about 3-5 minutes, turn off heat and set aside.
3. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat -- when it is nearly completely melted, turn the heat to low and add chocolate chips, extracts and liqueurs, stirring slowly but steadily until you get a seductively smooth molten puddle.
4. Slowly pour about a third to a half of the melted chocolate mixture onto the foil-lined pan, using a wooden spoon or spatula to spread it out to completely cover the entire bottom of the pan.
5. Generously scatter the toasted almonds and marshmallows (as photo'd above), then pour the remaining chocolate mixture on top, covering everything evenly. 
6. Cover the pan and put it in the fridge for at least two hours (or overnight) until the fudge is set.
7. After it is set, invert the pan over a clean surface and peel off the foil.
8. Cut the rectangular block of fudge into bite-sized squares (or whatever size you choose, really) and serve right away or store in the fridge.

Obviously, it'll be a bit firmer when eaten chilled straight out of the fridge and more squidgy-soft after it comes to room temperature. I love it either way!



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