Sweets For Your Sweet

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

Did you wake up this morning and realize that, despite your best intentions, you are completely unprepared for Valentine’s Day? Don’t panic. Skip the card store with its incredibly long line of procrastinators and the picked-over candy aisle at the drugstore and head to the grocery store instead.

Chocolate Says sweets available via Etsy(Photo: Chocolate Says via Etsy)

Seven easy ingredients and less than an hour of work will produce a rich and creamy fudge that is sure to impress the one you love. Trust me, I won the blue ribbon at the Kentucky State Fair with this recipe and those judges know their fudge!

Tracey Eckersley's Blue Ribbon Fudge Ingredients(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

Tracy’s Festive Fudge

½ cup dried cherries, chopped

¼ cup bourbon

½ cup pecans, chopped

Peel of 1 orange, finely grated

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 ¼ cups dark chocolate chips

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Place the chopped cherries in a small bowl and cover with the bourbon. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes (or, when you have more time, up to 8 hours).
  2. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes, stirring once, until slightly toasted. Be careful not to let them burn. Set aside and let cool.
  3. Drain the cherries (save the infused bourbon- it’s great in a Manhattan!) and mix in the cooled nuts and half the grated orange peel.
  4. In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the sweetened condensed milk over low heat until warm. Be careful to not let it come to a boil.
  5. Stir the dark and semi-sweet chocolate chips into the warm condensed milk and keep stirring over low heat until the chips are completely melted and the mixture is smooth. This will take about 5 minutes and a little muscle.
  6. When the mixture is smooth and glossy, quickly stir in the cherries, pecans, and grated orange peel mixture until thoroughly mixed into the chocolate.
  7. Spread the mixture (it will be thick) into a foil-lined 8 x 8 pan. Sprinkle the remaining orange peel over the top.  Refrigerate until firm.
  8. Lift the foil from the pan and remove it from the fudge. Cut the fudge into small squares. The fudge will keep, refrigerated in an air-tight container, for about a week.

Tracey's Festive Fudge(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

Not only is this an easy recipe but it can be customized to your tastes. Don’t like bourbon? Substitute dark rum, amaretto, or orange liqueur. Want to keep it alcohol-free? Soak the cherries in orange juice or just use them as they are. Can’t find cherries? Use dried cranberries. You can also mix up the nuts, using walnuts or almonds in place of the pecans. One thing that really makes a difference is good-quality chocolate. Ghirardelli makes great chocolate chips that are not much more expensive than other brands and are available in most grocery stores.

Heart shaped sweets for your sweetie(Photo: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures)

To make it a little more gift-worthy, consider using a cookie cutter to make heart-shaped pieces. Or tuck little notes into paper cups for your sweetie to see when he or she picks up a piece.

Hiding sweet notes under your truffles and fudge sweetens your gift all the more(Photos: Martha Stewart)

Even if you repurpse an old box or tin, take a moment to jazz it up with some nice paper, a personal photo, or special extras that reflect your loved one’s interests.

Interesting gift wrapping(Photo: Better Homes and Gardens)

No one has to know how easy or inexpensive your gift was to make; the fact that it was homemade for the recipient will mean more to him or her than any cliché bouquet of roses (and it will taste better too).

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