Growing up, every Winter my Mom would make Peanut Butter Fudge. She never made it in the summer due to the humidity causing problems with it setting up properly. She also always used this old pot that was really not so great to look at, but it seemed that the fudge always turned out better when it was made in this particular pan.
After many years of being intimidated by making it (and also feeling as though my waistline couldn't afford for me to know the "secret"), I called my Mom a couple weeks ago to confirm that I had the correct recipe in my file so that I could try it out for a cookie exchange I was participating in for the holidays. Turns out that the recipe she had used began with the Hershey's Chocolate Fudge recipe on the back of the can many years ago. My Dad had made the suggestion years ago that peanut butter might taste good in the fudge, so my Mom incorporated a bit of it into her recipe. Over the years, we have found that not everyone cares for this type of fudge... perhaps, too many people are "purists" in that they prefer straight chocolate fudge, or maybe it's just a bit too rich for them. At any rate, it brings back memories of my childhood and I am thrilled that I was finally able to duplicate it on my own.
The trick, it seems, is to allow the mixture to cook at a rapid boil, but stir constantly. Don't get into a rush and think you can take it off the heat too early or else you'll have fudge that won't set up no matter what you try. Once you have made it a few times, you can begin to get a feel for what "soft ball" stage is if you don't have a candy thermometer (as I don't have one... yet!).
Here's the recipe for my archives and for you to give it a try. Do let me know what side of the fudge fence you are on... chocolate purist or peanut butter daredevil?
Peanut Butter Fudge
2/3 cup cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky depending on your preference)
Mix cocoa, sugar and salt with a wooden spoon in a heavy pot. Add milk and cook over medium heat until mixture reaches soft ball stage. Remove from heat and add butter, vanilla and peanut butter. Beat the mixture with the wooden spoon until it begins to thicken. Pour into a 9x9 glass dish and allow to set-up. Cut into pieces and enjoy.