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Recipe Finder: This fudge has a rich Baltimore history

Kathy McCarthy of Baltimore was looking for a recipe for making fudge similar to the kind she used to purchase at her church's bake sales. She said the fudge had a smooth texture with a slight crust on the outside, and was very similar to the commercially produced Baltimore Fudge made by Wockenfuss Candies in Baltimore.

Steven Raichlen, the Baltimore-raised culinary writer and TV host, wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times some years ago extolling the virtues of his Grammie Ethel's chocolate fudge. He described in some detail a visit back to Baltimore, where he stood by his grandmother's side as she made a batch of her fudge using pots and pans she'd had since she was a newlywed.

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Using only a few quality ingredients and careful technique, what resulted, according to Raichlen was "fudge that is equally remarkable for its rich, deep, intensely chocolaty flavor as it is for its lack of sugary cloy."

Raichlen also noted that food historian John Mariani wrote in his "Dictionary of American Food and Drink" that he believes fudge might well have originated in Baltimore. Mariani quotes a letter in the Vassar College archives written by alumna Emelyn Hartridge, who claims that fudge was first made by her schoolmate's cousin in Baltimore. Hartridge also mentions a Baltimore grocery store that sold fudge for 40 cents a pound in 1886.

So it seems that fudge has a long history here. Undoubtedly there are other homegrown versions of Baltimore fudge out there, but Raichlen and I agree that they would have a hard time competing with Grammie Ethel's tried-and-true recipe. Why not whip up a batch and see for yourself?

Requests

Abbie Hoffman of Lutherville said she recently dined with some friends at Petit Louis Bistro in Roland Park, and they were served a wonderful butter cookie/cake with their cappuccino. It was almost like a mini madeleine but slightly crunchier. She would love to have the recipe.

Sherry Bensky of Mount Airy is looking for the recipe for the delicious taco salad she was served at Nino Taco on Liberty Road in Randallstown. It had a tasty seasoned ground beef in it and some kind of vinegar and oil-based dressing on the lettuce. Though the Nino's in Randallstown is no longer open, she knows there is one in Owings Mills but she is not sure it is the same owner. She would love to have the recipe if anyone knows of it.

Grammie Ethel's chocolate fudge

Makes 18 to 20 pieces

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup milk

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Grammie uses Baker's)

5 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Bring sugar and milk to a rolling boil in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Boil until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in chocolate with wooden spoon. Return to heat and cook until chocolate is completely melted, stirring often. Boil mixture for 2 minutes.

Stir in butter and vanilla. Reduce heat to medium and cook fudge at slow boil until thick and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Mixture should be consistency of caramel, and butter should be just beginning to separate out in shiny beads.

Remove pan from heat and beat fudge until slightly thickened (it should be the consistency of soft ice cream). Do not over-beat or fudge will be crumbly. Spoon fudge into a lightly oiled 8-inch pie pan. Cut it into squares while still warm.

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