Something about chocolate and a bit of heat that when combined together just right sounds so good. There is a homemade candy shop in Chatham, MA that I went to a couple summers back that had spicy milk chocolate bark with pecans in it and some peanut butter. Good Charlotte it was so good! It wasn't that spicy, just enough heat & salt to really meld perfectly with the deep milk chocolate taste. Ever since that last bite of the spicy bark I've wanted to re-create it at home. As of lately I've been wanting to try my hand at fudge, and I am NOT a huge fudge eater. So why not add some heat to a good nutty batch of fudge? Seriously there are some really bad fudges out there that taste like a sugar block, ick. I'll definitely eat fudge if it has a nice butter to cream to salt to chocolate ratio, you know like a really good danish that has the perfect balance/ratio of cheese to fruit to crust. Another important point is a good fudge should have nuts in it, without a doubt. I mean what's the point of eating fudge without nuts in it to balance off the milk chocolate flavor? And I do like a good peanut butter fudge, but I have to really taste the peanut butter through the thick dense fudge in order to love it. My latest creation is nothing more than a kicked up creamy version of fudge; a smoother more creamier version of chocolate fudge with some added spicy pecans. Remember a few posts ago I told you of my love for those Sweet & Spicy Pecans from Trader Joe's and how I vowed to make something really cool with them? I did, I put them in the fudge, along with a pinch extra of heat.
This my friends, was so friggin good. I gave most of it away as I didn't want it sitting at home in my fridge staring at me to nibble on. You know how that goes. It all starts out with you going to the fridge, see the candy, the cake, the moist brownies or the buttery cookies sitting in their little tupperware container; you take a small piece out, walk away, eat it. Then you realize it tastes so good that you're just going to have one more piece: a small piece, and that's it. You take the piece back over to your desk or upstairs to your room, or back to whatever it was you were doing and eat it, realizing 'hey this is good'. And now, of course, you're craving more, and tell yourself 'one more piece and I won't have dessert tonight'. This seems rational to you at the time, so you go get another piece from the fridge, making sure to close the tupperware top all the way around as if this is going to help stop you from coming back again because the top is on tighter now. You walk back to whatever it was your were doing and by this time you've devoured the piece of goodness already. You instantly walk over to the fridge because you've already told yourself that you're not eating dessert so it's ok to go for one more little piece. you get to the fridge and take a bigger piece than last time and realize you shouldn't do it, put it back in the container and then it hits you 'I just won't have that much dinner and I will walk more tomorrow at the gym'. You go back to the fridge and get an even bigger piece....
Sound familiar? Yeah, that's why I send a lot of the goodies I make off to hubbys' work in Boston; they go on a field trip without me. (they had a blast on their field trip though!!)
spicy chocolate fudge w/ pecans
1 c. salted butter (2 sticks)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
2 lbs. of confectioners sugar
¾ cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
3 ts good quality vanilla extract
A pinch or two of cayenne pepper (add as much or as little as you like)
A good sized pinch of sea salt
1 ½ cup of sweet & spicy pecans* (I used 2 cups, I love a lot of nuts. Make sure to leave them whole, not chopped up)
In a separate bowl sift together powdered sugar and cocoa; set aside. Butter a 9 x 12 non-stick pan. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and cream cheese, stirring often. Do not boil! Remove from heat add in the pinch of salt, vanilla extract and pepper, mix again. Add the sifted sugar & cocoa to the cheese mixture, mixing well.
Stir in the nuts. Pour into buttered 9"x12" pan. Chill at least 3 hours or until really firm.
My fudge came out easily from the pan. Recipe by Dawn Finicane of vanillakitchen.blogspot.com If you don’t have a non-stick pan use parchment paper. Don’t spray it with Pam….that will taste horrible.
Makes 3 pounds.
*the sweet & spicy pecans can be found at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find them try your local grocery store or nut shop. If you're going to add in your own nuts, make sure to toast them first. You want that crispy, flavorful nut in this fudge, and toasting helps bring out the flavor of all nuts.