THE HOLIDAY season is upon us. Brunches (!), lunches, dinners, and other holiday gatherings are calling. Potlucks require inventive recipes, culinary ingenuity and, in my case, last-minute recipe retrieval. Why is it that, when faced with a potluck or gift exchange, I always wait until the last minute to figure out what my contribution is going to be?!
But no longer! With this pretty fail-safe recipe — you just need to set aside about 3 hours to get it made; which gives you plenty of time to gussy up and wrap that last-minute-found-in-the-back-of-the-closet gift — you’ll have a hit to take with you to any party!
It took me quite a while to come up with this recipe, I will admit that. I initially intended to make peanut butter bacon maple fudge, but realized I was going to a soiree attended largely by vegetarians. Undeterred, I looked up a few spicy fudge recipes, but nothing was really leaping out at me. So in g-chat conversation with my friend JM (he’s a big fan of cinnamon and vanilla together), we came up with the idea of balancing spicy with a bit of a sweeter tang. Voila! Chili powder, meet balsamic vinegar.
It might take a moment to wrap your head around that one. But this is where the genius lies: it takes your palate a moment to get it all, too. First there’s the heady chocolate of the fudge; then the sudden onset of the chili/cayenne mix (“whuh-oh, wow” is how someone described it); then the agave-balsamic syrup sets in with just enough tang to keep it interesting but enough sweet to soothe the chili down.
So if you’re attending (or hosting) a decadent holiday brunch — or if you’re home alone with a mountain of work — this should make a star cameo. I’m just saying.
“Whuh-Oh Wow” Fudge
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 4 oz dark chocolate bar, chopped I used Ghirardelli’s 100% cocoa for balance
- 14 oz (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
- dash salt
- pat butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp chili powder *
- 1 tsp cayenne *
* Adjust spice levels for those with more restrained palates
Line an 8″ or 9″ baking dish with waxed paper and set aside.
Melt all ingredients in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat when melted and smooth.
Pour into lined baking dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate until firm (2-3 hours should be fine).
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp agave nectar
In a small saucepan, bring the agave nectar and balsamic vinegar to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 9-10 minutes, swirling occasionally (there will be bubbles on the surface). Remove from heat when the syrup is thick enough to coat a spoon, but not too thick. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
Place in a jar to keep for later. I poured my batch in a salad dressing bottle and dropped a cinnamon stick in there, for easy stirring.
NOW, the fun part.
Cut the fudge into squares and refrigerate in an airtight container. When you’re ready to serve/eat the fudge, pour out the agave-balsamic syrup into a small bowl and garnish with a cinnamon stick. Using the cinnamon stick, drizzle (or paint) syrup onto your fudge square.