It has often been said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. As a busy mama to a toddler (and constant disaster factory) during this most hectic of seasons, I’d like to amend that statement just a bit. Let’s just say, if your well-laid plans go out the window at the last minute, cross your fingers and hope to succeed in unexpected ways!
I was fortunate enough to succeed in unexpected ways recently, when my last-minute shopping didn’t get done because of some disaster or another. I didn’t have enough ingredients for the double batch of shortbread cookies I was planning to make for a cookie exchange the next day. Oh, fudge. Literally.
Serendipitously (or perhaps not, given the season), Lightly Crunchy had just posted a couple of recipes for 5-Minute Fudge. I had 5 minutes! What I did not have, however, was sweetened condensed milk. I did have evaporated milk, though, and sugar, and a quick search told me I could boil them down to make a substitute. Tempting fate? Probably, given that I have had more than my fair share of failed fudge in my candy-making career. But, all’s well that ends well!
I decided to make a bit of a variation on the original recipe, using Kahlúa and pecans, and the result was a hit at the cookie exchange. So were the shortbread cookies, of which I still made a single batch. Even though I hadn’t been able to find silver dragées to decorate them with per my very specific vision, and they didn’t come out as cute as I had hoped, I was still pleased with the product (inspired by December’s Bon Appétit cover photo of Dori Greenspan’s Speculoos Buttons).
I just made a batch of my spiced shortbread dough, divided it in half and rolled it into logs in plastic wrap and froze the logs for a couple of hours. After brushing the logs with egg white, I rolled them in decorative sugar and then sliced them into cookies. After they were baked, I added a dot of royal icing and a smidge more decorating sugar (wishing all the while it was silver dragees instead).
I wouldn’t call any of that a failure. In fact, I’d call it a smashing success, since I just made two more batches of fudge to hand out to the neighbors tomorrow. I only have one dirty pot in my sink, and I’m only missing about 15 minutes of my time, which includes the time it took to wash the pan in between batches. Hooray for unexpected success!
One batch is of the Kahlúa pecan fudge (recipe follows), and the other is of Heidi’s classic 5-minute fudge, minus the currants. Although I’m sure the non-boozy fudge is lovely, I have a feeling the kids ended up with the short end of the stick on this one!
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 3½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ¼ cup Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Combine the sweetened condensed milk and chocolate in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Melt, stirring constantly to ensure the chocolate doesn't burn.
- Stir in the Kahlúa and pecans and remove from the heat.
- Line a 9x9 pan with plastic wrap and pour the chocolate mixture evenly in, using a spatula to spread it into the corners.
- Chill in the refrigerator until set. Cut into small squares to serve.