If there’s anything I can’t resist, it’s fudge. Though I usually like mine with lots of nuts, this time I left them out and added swirls of seedless raspberry jam and mini-marshmallows, and loved the results. Since this batch is going to a bake sale, I also left out the Chambord, but if you have a bottle of this delicious raspberry liqueur, add a splash at the end when you stir in the chocolate and marshmallow fluff for extra flavor.
For Valentine’s Day, you can cut the fudge with a heart-shaped cutter. Or, if you have small silicone heart molds, use them – they work really well. Traditional square pieces are lovely too, of course.
What I say: Once fudge is firm, cut edges neatly with a very sharp knife. This will create attractive squares of fudge.
What I mean: Cut the edges off and eat them.
This uses a pound of dark chocolate, but it makes a big batch of fudge. (4+ pounds.) I doubt you’ll find yourself with extra fudge, but if you do it can be wrapped tightly and frozen.
Makes over 4 pounds of fudge. You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe.
3½ cups sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup butter (if using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt)
⅔ cup seedless raspberry spread (or jam), divided
1 pound dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
13 ounces marshmallow creme (fluff)
2 cups mini-marshmallows
Special equipment: candy thermometer
Prepare a 9x12-inch baking pan by placing a piece of parchment in the bottom, extended over the sides. Butter lightly, including any exposed areas on the ends.
In a large saucepan on medium heat, bring sugar, milk, butter, and ⅓ cup raspberry spread to a boil. stirring frequently. Once it is boiling, stir continuously until it reaches 234 F. (Adjust for high altitudes by subtracting 1 degree for each 500 feet above sea level.) Remove from heat.
Stir in chopped chocolate and marshmallow fluff until completely melted and smooth.
Drop spoonfuls of remaining ⅓ cup of raspberry on the mixture and add marshmallows. Fold gently, no more than 8-10 times. The goal is to have streaks of raspberry and semi-whole marshmallows.
Pour into prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Once fudge is cooled, chill until firm. Lift out of pan and cut as desired.
Oh, heavens! This cherry tart has a rich chocolate crust that lies somewhere between a cookie and a pie crust, and filling that’s spiked with cherry brandy. (Totally optional.) Oh, and did I mention that I used canned cherry pie filling? I know that’s not my usual modus operandi, but I’m afraid my cherry tree is buried under a few feet of snow, and besides…I’m making you create the crust from scratch, which is probably enough of a challenge, right?
I had to do some experimenting to come up with a crust that didn’t turn soggy on the bottom, but I’m happy to say that if you follow my baking instructions, your tart will be tender (but definitely not gummy) on the bottom, and crunchy on the sides. Yum yum yum!
If you don’t want booze in yours (eyeroll), you can skip the whole “cook the filling, lime juice, and cornstarch” step and just dump the cans of filling into the chilled tart crust. I wouldn’t even bother with the lime, (though it does add a nice flavor) because that would mean you’d have to dump the filling into a bowl, and…well…one more bowl to wash!
If you do use the brandy, be sure the cooked mixture is cool before putting it in the crust.
It’s critical to keep your dough chilled, and that egg white wash is a must! This will help keep the cherry mixture from seeping into your bottom crust.
Use whatever method works best for you when you move the crust to your tart pan. It’s thicker than a pie crust, but you can still roll it gently onto a rolling pin to transfer it. I like to roll mine out on parchment, center the tart pan upside down on the dough, slide one cookie sheet under the parchment and lay one gently on top of the dough, then flip. Whatever works best for you!
After you’ve eased your dough into the pan, turn the excess inward and press firmly against the inside edge. Trim off any dough that sticks over the edge of the pan.
Put a baking sheet in the oven while it preheats, then slide the chilled tart onto the hot sheet. This blast of heat from below will also help your crust to cook through. Be careful when you do this; you don’t want it to slide right into the back of the oven!
FILLING: (If not using alcohol, just use canned filling and skip the other ingredients)
2 cans cherry pie filling
1 tablespoon fresh lime (or lemon)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup cherry brandy
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup cold butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg white, whisked
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.
In a large pot on medium heat, combine two cans of cherry pie filling, lime, and cornstarch. Cook and stir until mixture bubbles and turns clear (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the cherry brandy. Set aside to cool.
In a medium pot over medium heat, bring water, sugar, and salt to a boil.
Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips, whisking until smooth. Allow mixture to cool completely before moving to the next step!
In a medium bowl, grate the butter using a grater with large holes. Add flour and stir until all of the butter is coated.
Add the cool chocolate mixture and stir until mostly combined, then dump out onto lightly floured surface and knead gently just until it comes together into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. (No longer - the chocolate will harden and make it difficult to roll out.)
Lightly spray an 11-inch tart pan with cooking spray. I like to use a flour and oil mixture, like Baker's Joy.
Roll out dough to make a circle about an inch bigger than your tart pan, all the way around. (Your pan should be 11 inches, so the circle would measure approximately 13 inches in all directions.)
Gently ease the dough into the pan. Roll any excess at the top towards the inside of the pan, pressing firmly against the sides. If any dough sticks up past the edge, trim it off.
With a pastry brush, cover the bottom of the crust with egg white. Freeze for 15 minutes (or refrigerate for 30).
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack while preheating.
Place tart pan onto a flat baking sheet or cutting board. Spoon filling into crust and slide it from the flat sheet onto the hot baking sheet in the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven, turn the heat to 350 F and bake an additional 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. When tart is barely warm, slide onto your hand, letting the ring fall down your arm. You may either leave the tart on the metal bottom or use a thin spatula to slide it from the base to a serving platter.
Decorate with whipped cream if desired, or serve with ice cream.
Add lime (or lemon) juice and cornstarch. It will look cloudy – that’s okay.
Cook it until it’s bubbly and fairly clear.
Add flour to grated butter and stir to coat.
Stir chocolate mixture into butter and flour. Make sure the chocolate isn’t warm!
Knead gently until it forms a ball, flatten into disk, wrap and chill. (You should see little bits of butter throughout.)
My favorite method to transfer dough to pan. Center pan upside down on dough, slide baking sheet under parchment, one on toop of dough, and flip.
Brush bottom of crust with egg white and chill. Add filling and bake!
I used stabilized whipped cream on this tart. To stabilize cream, I beat 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form, add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and beat until combined. Then I heat about 1/2 teaspoon Knox gelatin in 1/2 teaspoon water until it’s melted and drizzle a little in the cream while mixing on high. I don’t use it all…maybe half, but it’s too hard to melt a smaller amount!
For the tart at the beginning of the post, I beat 4 ounces of room temperature cream cheese, added 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1 cup of heavy cream and beat until it was thick and fluffy. I think I like the piped hearts better because the cherries still show.
Or…you could just eat it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Disclaimer: My husband preferred the tart without alcohol; he didn’t like the smell of cherry brandy. It MAY be because I had already spent a fortune at the liquor store picking up other booze for Valentine’s Day baking and went cheap on the brandy, but I liked it. A lot. I’ve never tried Kirsch, but that might be a good alternative if you have some.
Ready, set, GO!
So…onward. There are lots of ideas swirling around in my head; as soon as I corral them into something resembling recipes, you’ll be seeing lots of chocolate, cherries, raspberries, and sprinkles.