Recipe: huckleberry fudge
We returned to Nederland a couple of days ago only to be greeted by a furnace blast of a heat wave. Man, is it hot – even in the mountains! We usually find relief at night when we can draw cool air into the house (most mountain homes don’t have air conditioning as we usually don’t need it), but the evenings haven’t offered much of that either. I feel such ambivalence toward summer. On the one hand I cannot stand the heat and I hide from the sun as much as I can, but on the other hand it is the short time when tons of fun and beautiful things happen.
I stopped by the vet’s office on Wednesday afternoon and told the assistant at the desk that I was there to receive Kaweah’s ashes. She walked to the back and looked at four different sized boxes and picked up a medium-ish one. Instead of handing it to me across the front desk, she came around to where I stood and offered me a hug and said she was so sorry. I thought I was getting better about keeping it together when people gave their condolences, but apparently I wasn’t. Blinking back tears, I thanked her and she told me how much the office loved Kaweah and what a remarkable little girl she was. Stepping outside the office into the breeze coming off the mountains, I cradled the box in my arms. It’s so light – so much lighter than the 55 pounds of pup we were used to carrying around in her old age… 55 pounds of mostly water and carbon, reduced to carbon. I know this isn’t my Kaweah. My Kaweah is gone. But she’s also in my heart – so not really gone.
kaweah’s ashes and two framed photos – one for her vet and one for us
Thursday morning presented itself at 5:30 am. That decision, of whether or not to get up and get outside when you’re short on sleep, can be a tough one. I know from experience that I usually won’t regret getting up, but I might regret not getting up. Our dedication was rewarded first thing in the morning with wildlife sightings, colorful wildflowers strewn across the meadows like confetti, and clear views of the high country.
that’s a moose
a big moose
don’t mess with the moose
morning light on delicate blossoms
the indian peaks high country
It is a great time to catch wildflowers in the mountains around here. They seem to be peaking around 10,000 feet right now. Believe it or not, my whole motivation for hiking was not to see moose or the wildflowers (but both are TOTALLY BONUS!!), it was to check on the huckleberries. Oh, and to get exercise, but… huckleberries. They were green and plumping up nicely in Crested Butte on my last trail run. Here in the Front Range, they’re a little behind their Crested Butte brethren. Still, it’s coming along nicely. Hiking is my finger on the pulse of the hucks.
green hucks in crested butte
What do I plan to do with the huckleberries? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve been planning ALL YEAR for this moment in time. One of the treats I’ve been wanting to make is huckleberry fudge. If you’ve ever traveled to Montana and visited a gift shop, you will have seen and possibly sampled huckleberry fudge. I did just that (many) years ago when Jeremy and I took a 6-week detour through the Rocky Mountains on our cross-country move from Pasadena, California to Ithaca, New York. I’m not a big fan of fudge, but huckleberry fudge is something else entirely.
white chocolate, cream cheese, powdered sugar, huckleberry jam
This recipe is not a true fudge which involves heating sugar, cream, and butter to a soft ball stage. This is a cheater recipe, but I like it because it’s easy and the cream cheese adds a touch of tang. The original recipe calls for huckleberry flavor, but we not only use real butter in this house, we use real huckleberry jam! Obviously, the best possible huckleberry jam is one you make yourself from real foraged hucks. You can use store-bought huckleberry jam (or some other flavor of jam), but beware that some brands are practically flavorless ripoffs.
beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together
melt the white chocolate
beat it into the cream cheese mixture
I recommend using the highest quality white chocolate you can get your hands on. For me, that’s Valrhona. Crappy white chocolate or fake white chocolate will taint the fudge with its inferior flavor and texture. Not being a fan of white chocolate, the real deal makes all the difference.
beat in the jam
or stir it in for a swirl
spread in parchment-lined pans
I split the batch in half and made a blended version and a swirl version of the huckleberry fudge. I didn’t think there would be much difference between the two other than aesthetics, but I was mistaken. The blended version had a smoother and more uniform texture. The swirl fudge was ever-so-slightly less smooth with sections of white fudge intermingled with ribbons of huckleberry jam. My preference was for the blended fudge, although they are both excellent.
refrigerate to set the fudge
peel off the parchment
slice with a wet knife
Despite my general indifference for fudge, this huckleberry fudge is fantastically huckleberry-ish! I nibble on a 1-inch cube such that it takes me 30 minutes to finish. Is it as good as the huck fudge in Montana? Truth be told, it was so long ago (uh, 18 years to be exact) that I don’t remember. This recipe is pretty spanking good, though. It’s especially awesome when you bite on one of the little berries because we all know that huckleberries are the number one absolute awesomest best berries in the world. And because I can forage the huckleberries in my local mountains, it tastes like home.
makes 64 1-inch cubes
blended on the left and swirl on the right
these also make very special, wonderful gifts
modified from The Prepared Pantry
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups (500g) powdered sugar
12 oz. high quality white chocolate (I used Valrhona)
1/2 cup huckleberry jam
Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment or wax paper. Beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or by hand or with a hand mixer) until smooth. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time and beat until smooth and incorporated. Repeat until all of the sugar is added to the cream cheese. Melt the white chocolate on half power for a minute in a microwave. Stir and melt for another minute on half power until mostly melted. Remove from microwave and continue stirring until all solids have liquified. If you don’t like or don’t have a microwave, you can set the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and then set the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water (about an inch of water is enough), stirring until the chocolate melts. Add the white chocolate to the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined. It will lose the smooth texture and become fluffier.
At this point, you can either mix the jam into the cream cheese mixture until completely blended, or you can swirl the jam into the mixture by hand. I prefer the blended version as it has a smoother texture in the final fudge. Pour the fudge into the baking pan and smooth it out evenly. Refrigerate the fudge until firm (about an hour). Remove the fudge from the pan and slice with a wet knife (clean the knife between cuts for cleaner slices). Makes 64 1-inch squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
|huckleberry jam||huckleberry ice cream||crème de cassis (black currant liqueur)||blueberry pie|