Ed Hammond of rural Goessel does not like to cook. He usually leaves that job to his capable wife of 17 years, Lisa Hammond, and he and their sons, Darren, 15, Kenny, 12, and Vincent, 10, agree she is very good at the task. One Christmas, after making 18 pies and many other holiday treats, she did not have time to make fudge when he asked for it, and instead told him to do it himself. Though it took him several years to perfect a recipe for the chocolaty treat, family and friends agree his fudge is the best.
“The boys request it every year for their birthday treats,” he said. “The kids at school go crazy for it; even the teachers always ask if they are going to bring my fudge.”
Hammond said this was the first year he made fudge for Valentine’s Day, but Ed’s Famous Fudge has been part of family celebrations for many holiday seasons since he started making it in 2004.
“I start at Thanksgiving, then Vincent’s birthday is Nov. 29, and we usually have to have several more batches through Christmas and New Year’s,” he said. “By spring I usually have made 15 to 20 batches for family, friends, co-workers of Lisa’s, and the kids, of course.”
Hammond said his sons had a big influence on how he perfected his fudge recipe over the years.
“Basically, it was for them,” he said. “Kids don’t like nuts, so I never put those in. They also want a big hunk of fudge, not one of those little tiny pieces. We double our recipe and make sure everyone gets big pieces.”
Hammond said he remembered his grandmother making fudge for the holiday season when he was young, but no one in the family ever got her recipe or tried to make it after she died. When his wife told him to make his own, he did not have a clue how to get started and asked her to teach him.
“That first time she helped me make ‘Million-Dollar Fudge,’ a recipe we found by Mamie Eisenhower,” he said. “After that, I was on my own. I found a few ways to make it easier and better, and the boys always love to test for me.”
Hammond said the very first time he made fudge, it was late at night so they did not have all the correct ingredients.
“We had to improvise with Hershey bars instead of baker’s chocolate and that was actually pretty good, so I kept that change,” he said. “We also thought it tasted too chocolate-chippy, so we had to cut down on those.”
Hammond, an auto-mechanic by trade, said he used to enjoy watching a cable show “Death by Chocolate”.
“I learned a lot about making fudge from that show,” he said. “There was a cook who made fudge and he said to stir the milk mixture during a rolling boil so it doesn’t burn. This guy just poured the hot mixture over the chocolate and mixed it in a stand mixture. That’s how I like to do it.”
In perfecting his own fudge recipe, Hammond said using too many baker’s chocolate squares made the fudge too dry. He achieved a better flavor and moisture content by substituting in the Ghirardelli chocolate for some of the squares.
“I guess we just like a more candy-bar flavored chocolate than a bitter taste,” he said.
The boys usually help their dad make fudge, especially if they are taking it to school for a birthday treat or holiday party.
“They like to break up the chocolate and help clean up,” he said. “It helps them get to taste it that much faster.”
“You should never cut up the chocolate,” Vincent Hammond said. “It turns out better if you break it up into little pieces with your hands.”
The entire process to make Hammond’s fudge takes little more than 10 to 15 minutes. And with the changes he has made to the recipe, Hammond said a failure was not even a thought.
“It always sets up; it always turns out great,” he said. “The problem we have is rationing it so there is enough to share with others.”
Other fudge success tips he shared included never using anything but real butter, never pour the boiling mixture over the chocolate until the bubbles quit to not burn the chocolate, and mix it with the stand mixer one minute more after achieving creamy status.
Hammond, who said he planned to keep making fudge as long as the kids wanted to take it to school for birthdays, does not make it on request for non-family members. He also does not sell it, though he figures cost to be about $15 to $20 per batch.
“I’m no cook,” he said. “Anything else I make is not fit to eat, except baked nachos and maybe mac and cheese. I don’t like to clean up the mess in the kitchen. I just make fudge because I really like chocolate. And the kids like it too.”
Ed’s Famous Fudge recipe
- 4 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
- 2 (12 oz.) packages of semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 (regular size) Hershey’s milk chocolate candy bars, broken into small pieces
- 1 (4 oz.) Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate bar, broken into small pieces
- 6 (1 oz.) squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow crème
1. A stand mixer, such as a Kitchen Aid, is preferred because it takes about two full minutes of heavy beating to produce a glossy, smooth consistency … difficult to accomplish by hand.
2. Combine sugar, salt, butter, and evaporated milk in heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for six minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Pour boiling syrup over the chocolate and beat until smooth, about two minutes on medium speed in a stand mixer. Add the marshmallow crème and beat until mixed in.
4. Pour into a buttered 9” X 13” pan. Allow to cool (no need to put in the refrigerator) and cut into squares. Recipe makes approximately 30 squares.