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Friday, February 14, 2014

"Kahlua" Fudge Valentine Heart Lollipops

I love coffee liqueur! So do my girls and my sons-in-law. A lot. I've made this recipe for at least 30 years, and usually make this highly requested confection at Christmas time, but that schedule's not set in stone. So I thought that it would be fun to make a batch for Valentines Day. This fudge just is the best ever. You can keep it in the fridge in an airtight container (if there's any left!). It's super creamy with deliciously deep chocolate flavor
with coffee overtones from the liqueur. This hits the spot for all those chocolate urges when you want creamy real chocolate with that melts-in-your-mouth goodness.

I've tasted and used so many different coffee liqueurs and find that there are some really good ones at very reasonable prices. You can use the name brand Kahlua, or any of the other brands. They all work great.

"Kahlua Fudge Heart Lollipops! Ready for the fridge.
This recipe was inspired by the Kahlua Companies recipe. I originally responded to a Christmas ad about a booklet full of recipes, so I sent for it and it is a keeper. I've basted lamb, turkey, chicken, pork, and beef with it, baking, roasting, or grilling and it is phenomenally delicious. The lighter colored meats turn this incredibly dark autumn brown and the flavor imparted is remarkably wonderful. I've basted it on by itself, mixed with butter, or EVOO, even Champagne, and it just glides on. And so of course I've added it into everything I can think of!

Try making this wonderful treat for your loved ones this Valentine's Day, they will love you for it!

❥Please! Read ALL of the recipe before you make this delicious fudge. It takes a while to make, so do it the right way, it's very disappointing to not have it turn out - there are no shortcuts when making great fudge.

I do not recommend small children helping with this due to the possibility of being burned by the hot popping sugar mixture, not to mention the stovetop. 

❥Have all ingredients measured and ready before starting to cook the candy, you don't have time to stop and prepare the next ingredient without compromising your confection and it's liable to not turn out. If, and a Big IF, your fudge doesn't set up, you can add more warm evaporated milk to thin it to your desired consistency and keep it as a sauce for ice cream, shakes, malts, etc., jar it, add a cute label and give as gifts! (Keep it chilled!)

❥Special equipment needed:
                              CANDY THERMOMETER
                              Dutch oven or tall stock pot 
                              Pastry brush  
                              Extra-long wooden or heat-proof spoon
                              Oven mitts
                              Special cookie cutters
                              Karo syrup
                              Food safe "paint" brushes - Online or cake decorating supply stores

"Kahlua" Fudge:

butter for greasing the baking pan and foil
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup coffee liqueur
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 - 7 oz. jar of marshmallow cream
1/4 cup butter - the real stuff NOT margarine
1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
2 cups dark chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped nuts

1. Line a 9" x 13" pan with foil, overlapping two of the sides with foil to act as handles for removing it from the pan. Butter the four sides and the foil.

2. In the Dutch Oven hang the candy thermometer on the side but do not let it touch the bottom, 

then combine the sugar, evaporated milk, coffee liqueur, vanilla, salt, marshmallow cream, and butter. Wearing the gloves and using the extra long spoon stirring constantly bring the mixture to a hard boil, this can take a while.

**Once the fudge mixture reaches either a full roiling boil or the soft ball stage 240°F (115°C), start your timer for 7 minutes, and do not stir it or even shake the saucepan as you risk incorporating the grainy sugar clinging to the sides. Stirring at the wrong time can actually promote crystallization of sugar into large grains causing the fudge to have a grainy texture. Continue to boil the mixture for 7 minutes. 

3. Remove from the heat and quickly and immediately stir the chocolate chips in all at once. Leave the thermometer in with the fudge undisturbed and keep an eye on the temperature. Don't be alarmed if you see butter fat separation during this time frame, it will beat back in where it belongs. When it drops to 115-120°F, then and only then it is ready for continuous, vigorous beating. Place the fudge into your stand mixer bowl and starting on low gradually beat the fudge, moving the speed up gradually to high. When the fudge stiffens slightly, it is time to add ingredients such as chopped nuts. Continue beating till the fudge becomes very thick and starts to lose its gloss. 
(Yes step #3 can be done in the pot it cooked in, with a hand mixer.)

4. Use your utmost care when pouring the hot mixture into the prepared baking pan, as it can be quite hot. Spread the mixture evenly and do not scrape the sides of the mixer bowl as these scrapings have a stiffer, less creamy texture and will cause your fudge to turn grainy. Spread and smooth the fudge with an offset spreader or knife. 

Don't worry that you can see indentations from the knife in this photo where I pressed and pushed it into the pan.
 This batch of fudge will be cut and decorated for Valentine's Day and none of it will be seen!

5. Let the fudge cool completely at room temperature. You can then pull up on the foil handles and move the fudge slab to a cutting surface, be sure to remove the foil completely and discard it. Cut into your desired shapes - squares, diamonds, hearts, flowers...the list is endless! Decorate simply or lavishly and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

With the fudge at room temperature it cuts very easy. If your fudge is too warm, refrigerate it about 20 minutes or so.

Mark a kabob skewer with a sharpie pen by measuring half way up the heart. This will be your indicator for how far the lollipop stick should go. If you poke through, just smooth that part back up. 

Using a food safe "paint" brush, brush some Karo syrup lightly all over the top of the heart.

Once the heart is "painted" with syrup, turn it syrup side down and gently press it into the sprinkles.

Once you've finished all of the fronts, then "paint" the sides, dipping where you can into the sprinkles and using your fingers to sprinkle the sprinkles over the sides.

Line the lollipops up on a wax paper lined rimmed baking sheet to chill for a couple of hours. Arrange in a setting, or wrap in lollipop cellophane "pop" bags for gifting.

❥Special Notes:   for portion control and fitting easily into candy cups, 

❥1/2 inch squares will give you about 208 pieces 
❥1 inch pieces about 104 pieces
❥Larger shapes might fit into larger cups - Ikea has some very pretty, large baking cups with shallow sides. These in the photo I buy pretty much any time of the year, and they always have beautiful ones for Christmas.

Hints for Straight Line Designs:

❥Use a clean plastic ruler for cutting straight lines (I have one that is dedicated for cooking purposes only that I keep in my utensil crock).

❥Use the longest knife available for cutting straight lines, I actually use a stainless steel pizza cutter.

❥Heat your knife over a flame briefly, and your cut edges will be sharper and smoother
Or - dipped in very hot water as long as you remember to wipe the blade off on a clean kitchen towel before cutting as water stains on your fudge is highly unattractive!

And finally; enjoy your hard worked confections! You can exchange the liqueur and extract for any flavor. Feel free to experiment.

Happy Valentines Day!