Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. If you forgot to buy chocolate for your sweetheart (or for yourself!), don’t despair. You’ve still got time to whip up a batch of homemade fudge.

That’s because I’ve got the simplest fudge recipe in the world. There’s no risk of the chocolate seizing or burning. You don’t need a candy thermometer. The most complicated thing you need is a double-boiler.

And if you don’t have a double-boiler, you can fake one. That’s what I do. Just get a large saucepan, and a bowl that’s a bit larger around than the saucepan. Put some water in the bottom of the saucepan – not so much that the water will touch the bowl, but enough that you can bring it to a simmer without worrying about the pan boiling dry. Set the bowl on top of the saucepan, and presto! You’ve got a double boiler.

And with that, you will soon have fudge.

Purists might say it isn’t really fudge. Real fudge is finicky stuff. This fudge – it’s dreamy and delicious and easy. That’s good enough for me.

Ingredients

If you’re making fudge for someone with a nut allergy, or if you just don’t like nuts, feel free to leave them out. If you like, you can add crushed peppermint candies, or marshmallows, or some sort of crispy cereal. Or just have plain fudge. That works, too.

If you use dairy, you can substitute butter for the coconut oil, and use a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk instead of the coconut milk and sugar mixture.

Dairy-free fudge

1 13.5 ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 pound of semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) coconut oil
1 ½ cups broken pecans or walnuts (more or less, according to your taste)

Instructions

Pour a can of coconut milk into a small saucepan. Add the sugar. Bring the coconut milk to a boil, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down so that the coconut milk is at a low simmer. Stir occasionally. When the coconut milk has been reduced to 1 1/4 cup, take it off the burner and let it cool.

Put an inch or two of water in the bottom of your double boiler. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low, or whatever it takes to keep the water just barely simmering.

Put the chocolate chips and coconut oil in the top of your double boiler. Pour the reduced coconut milk over the chips and coconut oil, and put the bowl over the simmering water. You don’t want the water to touch the bottom of the bowl. The steam that’s trapped under the bowl will provide enough heat to melt the chocolate.

While the chocolate is starting to warm, prepare your pan. You’ll need a 7×7 or 8×8 pan. Spray the pan with cooking spray. Then cut two pieces of waxed paper or parchment paper about 14 inches long. Lay one down across the bottom of the pan. Turn the pan 90 degrees, then lay the other sheet down so it’s perpendicular to the first sheet. You’ll have extra paper sticking up over the edge of the pan on all four sides. This extra paper will make convenient handles for taking the fudge out of the pan when it’s cool.

Once you’re done preparing the pan, you can start stirring the chocolate mixture occasionally. Use a rubber spatula, so you can scrape down the sides.

Once everything is melted and blended together, stir in the nuts, if you’re using them. Then pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with your rubber spatula.

At this point, it’s quite hot. Put the pan on a rack and let it cool for a while, then cover it loosely and put it in the refrigerator.

When it’s completely cool, lift the block of fudge out of the pan and cut it into squares.

If you want to make white chocolate fudge, substitute one pound of really good white chocolate for the chocolate chips, and leave out the coconut oil. (Make sure it’s real white chocolate, though, and not white candy coating stuff. Real white chocolate makes a heavenly white fudge.)

If you can’t decide whether to make regular chocolate fudge or white chocolate fudge, make one now, and make the other one to share at church on on Cheesefare.

Read More

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Cookies and desserts for special diets and special occasions: Special days call for special treats. Here are some of my favorites, including a selection that work if you’re on a gluten-free, dairy-free or anti-inflammatory diet.

Charlotte Riggle, author of Catherine's Pascha and The Saint Nicholas Day Snow
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