First, the absurdly easy method. If you don´t care about authenticity or details, this version will get you a delicious, sweet dessert in less than 15 minutes using only a double boiler/bain marie and a buttered pan for setting. I found this version to be chewy, denser and less sweet than the traditional method.
16 oz. (450 g) chocolate chips
4 Tbs. (57 g) butter
14 oz. (396 g) can sweetened condensed milk
Heat ingredients over simmering water for several minutes, stirring until combined. Pour into buttered dish and leave to set/chill for approximately 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve.
I halved this recipe for 2 different versions, and used bar chocolate because I never seem to find chocolate chips here. (I also couldn´t find candy canes to make a white chocolate mint version, but I digress). I added orange zest and dried cranberries to white chocolate in one batch and boosted the 84% dark cacao in another batch.
For the more masochistic - there´s the traditional method. This is a delicate process of creating a sugar syrup with milk, butter and sugar, raising the temperature to the soft ball candy stage, beating during cooling and then leaving to set. From Old Tyme Fudge recipes:
4 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate 3 cups sugar 2 tbsp light corn syrup 1 1/4 cups milk 4 tbsp butter 1 tsp vanilla 2 cups nuts (optional)
Line an 8 inch square pan with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. Alternatively, butter the pan.
Melt chocolate in pan over very low heat. Stir in sugar, corn syrup, and milk. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring until sugar dissolves. Wash crystals from side of pan. Cook to 238F (114C) on candy thermometer (soft ball stage). Remove from heat, and without stirring, add butter.
Cool to 120F (49C). Add vanilla and beat until mixture begins to thicken. Stir in nuts. Pour mixture into the pan and cut into squares when cool (room temperature).
My challenges were that I only had a thermometer from our beer making efforts which only goes to 110C, not 114. This required a lot of waiting, observing, and dropping of chocolate syrup into glasses of iced water. I was also determined to try goat milk in some, since I´m always looking for a way to justify the future purchase of goats. And I used some organic agave nectar instead of the corn syrup which I also never find here.
Throwing tradition to the winds, I found using electric beaters much more effective for the cooling stage.
By the end of a really long weekend I had a success (chocolate walnut), 2 batches remain soup and one a caramel Penuche sticky in-between. After rebatches, one successful (goat milk mocha coffee hazelnut) and one a chocolate brick. Fortunately, rebatching is easy - just add 1 C water, bring back up to 114 C and redo. I still have the chocolate brick and the sticky Penuche in the freezer, I´m not sure you can re-process 3 times. Maybe I´ll just sprinkle it on top of something else.