Sunday, January 2, 2011

Irish Cream Hazelnut Fudge

Being that it's January 2nd, I realize that posting my Christmastime baking recipes, most of which require sugar, butter, cream and all manner of deliciously bad things, may not be going over so well with some New Years resolutions. Well... this one isn't going to be any different, but I will get back to making food that doesn't require a lot of gym time soon!

There are always a few staples that I look forward to having each year during the Christmas baking season. The peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses, frosted sugar cookies in various shapes, rum balls, Buckeyes, and fudge! Fudge is by far my favorite 'find' every year, because it was the one thing I've never been able to make, so it was always a welcome treat when someone else brought it to parties. Fudge is also a favorite because it's so versatile -- there are as many flavors of fudge as there are bakers to make them. And because fudge is usually so intense that only little pieces are a good idea, I usually manage to sample a large number of options.

This was the first time I've ever been successful in making fudge. I tried once or twice many years ago, but a handful of things went wrong and I was always left with a large pan of ice cream topping when it didn't set up. Truthfully, I'm not always the best at reading and following directions, so I sort of threw everything into the double boiler and hoped for the best, which almost resulted in a giant, messy disaster. Moral of the story -- fudge only works when you follow the directions and do things in order!!

That being said, this was absolutely delicious and I'm very proud of my first successful batch of fudge. It does have alcohol in it, so gauge your audience if there are kids around -- my own personal thought is that there isn't enough to really do anything except add flavor, but that's definitely a parental call. Also, if you don't have a double boiler, you can easily create one by putting a bowl in a pan of boiling water, just be very careful of splashing water -- burns aren't fun!

Irish Cream Truffle Fudge, adapted from AllRecipes

4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (2 bags)
1/4 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup Irish Cream liqueur
1 1/2 cups chopped hazelnuts

1. Butter an 8x8" pan, or something of similar size.
2. In the top half of a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips and butter until soft enough to stir.
3. Stir in the powdered sugar and Irish cream until smooth.
4. Stir in the nuts.
5. Spread mixture into the buttered pan and lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the top, press and smooth the top down.
6. Refrigerate until firm, 1-2 hours at least.

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