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coming home

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

looking east

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

Huckleberry Fudge
[print recipe]
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

32 nibbles at “coming home”

  1. Baby June says:

    gorgeous photos! That fudge looks delicious too. :)

  2. Pey-Lih says:

    OH YUM!!!!!!!!!!! Whoever is getting that package is ONE lucky friend! BTW, how old was Kaweah in the framed pictures? I know exactly how you feel. I still remember the time when we went to pick up our box of Oscardog, and to my surprise, I bursted into tears in the car. My husband said, “Well you know that’s our dog, because that box is heavy.” He was 95 lbs at the end; he was a big boy. Now he sits on our fireplace mantel.

  3. Sarah says:

    I cried the whole way when I drove our dog home from the vet’s for the very last time. Her little box is on our hall table. It took a long, long time for me to stop bursting into tears about it. Well, okay, it hasn’t stopped, but it does happen less often these days (we’re at the 6 month mark). Give yourself lots of time.

    I don’t care for regular fudge either, but this one looks good! I bet the rest of my family (all enthusiastic eaters of chocolate fudge) wouldn’t like it, of course.

  4. Amy says:

    Yum! I don’t think I’ve ever tried huckleberries. This may be just the way to try them out!

  5. Joyce says:

    Never has there been such a precious pup, nor one so loved and treasured! Bless you guys!

  6. Kristin says:

    I was so glad my young children were at school when I received the ashes of our first cat (we moved right after he died, so the ashes were mailed to us) because I burst into tears too. Not that they hadn’t already seen me cry about Simon, and cry and cry…

    The huckleberry fudge looks yummy. I’ve never been fortunate enough to try the berries or anything made with them. I’m tempted to try to remedy that, but want to be careful not to run into a poor quality huckleberry product that leaves me wondering what you are raving about!

  7. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    This fudge is such a neat flavour! And I love the little framed photos of Kaweah…such a special pup.

  8. Kate @ ¡Hola! Jalapeño says:

    Huckleberry fudge is where its at and those Moose pictures are incredible. They are so HUGE!!!

  9. Bev says:

    Coincidentally, it’s been about that long since I tasted true Montana huckleberry fudge, too. Oh my, what an incredible treat and all that goodness confounded my inability to find it here above the 49th parallel. Our hucks are 100% ready right now and my husband and I agree that it is the biggest crop we’ve ever seen–must be all that rain in June followed by the July heat-wave! I’ve measured some berries: over 1/2″ diam! So, off to the woods again soon. A huge thank you for the huck-fudge recipe; have company coming this weekend so heading for the kitchen to make a batch of jam for fresh fudge right now.

  10. Robin says:

    this could also be used as frosting prior to cooling off

  11. Gail says:

    This looks delicious! I have a special event coming up and these will be perfect. I’m in Olympia WA and the blackberries are coming out. So will probably make it with those. Thanks! :)

  12. JulieT says:

    Can this recipe be modified with any berry? How about with a stone fruit (I’m thinking Palisade peaches)?

  13. stephanie says:

    OH WOW! So, you basically just gave a recipe to make fudge with any flavor jam. Thank YOU SO MUCH!!! I can’t wait to try this (and huckleberries if I can ever find them).

  14. ivy says:

    that was a most aesthetic experience just enjoying the story and the pictures. you covered a lot of ground there. hope your heart is healing a bit. huckleberries, moose, wildflowers, the love of a cherished friend. life can be so good.

  15. Gabbi says:

    Do you know what species of huckleberry you have there? That plant looks totally different from what we call red or blue huckleberries here in the Cascades.

  16. Rachel says:

    I bet it would be good made with lingonberries too!

  17. Eileen says:

    I have never heard of using berries to make fudge like this! Such a great idea. Maybe this is what I should be doing with the mountain of backyard plums we get every June… :)

  18. jacquie says:

    be gentle with yourself. your loss was great and it will take a lot of time for it to ease. i’m not sure we ever “get over” it so much as adjust to it. so there will be a time when fewer tears come but that doesn’t mean they won’t come at all sometime out of the blue. most of all you are so correct that is not gone but rather in your heart now. take care.

  19. Melissa says:

    Just got a chance to read this post. I know it’s not the same, and I know I don’t need to expound, since you’ve lost people you love in your life before you ever lost Kaweah, but. I cannot help but offer my empathy about the ashes, as it reminds me of how I felt when we picked up my dad’s ashes. It’s such a strange, surreal, deep, grief-filled, philosophical moment. And I’m glad that gal came around to give you a hug there. <3

  20. Becky says:

    Wow, your photos always brighten my day! Those moose!

    You crack me up about not liking hot weather, because I live in Oklahoma and it is near 100 degrees here most summer days and I love it. I admire your love for the cold temps, but I am such a weenie during the winter months. I do have my siberian husky now so I better get ready for being out in the cold with her! I know she will be in heaven when it gets cold which will make it worthwhile to freeze my tushka off for her happiness.

    I am not usually a white chocolate fan, but this fudge with huckleberries is enticing!

  21. IG says:

    i said your baby’s name “kaweah” outloud and said a prayer for all of you after i read this beautiful post. my heart is sent with this message…

  22. jenyu says:

    Baby June – thank you!

    Pey-Lih – Kawah was 11. We’re still trying to figure out what to do with Kaweah, but for now she’s in the great room.

    Sarah – thanks, we are moving on with our lives, but we sure miss her.

    Amy – yes yes! Please get your hands on some huckleberries, you will love them :)

    Joyce – so sweet, thanks! xo

    Kristin – awwww. They really are family. As for fresh hucks, I wonder if you can mail order them from Montana?

    Katrina – :)

    Kate – I know, they are ginormous!!

    Bev – wow, I am in awe of the size of your hucks. Ours are little guys :) Good luck!! I hope you found lots!

    Robin – mmmmm, sounds fantastic.

    Gail – I’ll bet they were delicious with blackberries.

    JulieT – I’m guessing yes, although I haven’t experimented with any. Let me know if you meet with success!

    stephanie – I hope you do, because huckleberries are so very very special :)

    ivy – Thank you, friend xoxo

    Gabbi – I don’t actually know. We have a couple of plants (some with big leaves, some with teeny tiny leaves) that produce huckleberries. I think there are several varieties.

    Rachel – oooooh, yes!

    Eileen – :)

    jacquie – thank you for that sweet reminder xo

    Melissa – you are the best, Mel. Love you xoxo

    Becky – I knew there were people out there who love the heat ;) You are more likely the norm and I am definitely the oddball ;) Hope your pup doesn’t overheat!

    IG – thank you xxoo

  23. Melanie Evans says:

    I don’t think we ever imagine how much we will miss our beloved pets nor how or what will spark tears even many, many years down the road. I suppose it’s because we love them so much. You’re right….one moves on but I don’t know they ever aren’t missed.

    I’m going to have to try huckleberries. I really prefer white chocolate so this looks like a fun way to try them.

  24. Melissa Windt says:

    How long does this fudge take to become firm? I followed the recipe, but the mix is still very,very soft. Its been 4 hours now.

  25. jenyu says:

    Hi Melissa – I answered you on Facebook, but I’ll also answer here. It took an hour for it to firm for me. If your fudge never firmed up, feel free to describe exactly what ingredients you used, how you measured them, and what steps you took (and any deviations from the recipe). We can try and troubleshoot.

  26. Linda says:

    It’s been an hour and set up still soft.???? Maybe needs more shite chocolate next time? Followed recipe exactly.

  27. Linda says:

    Followed recipe and after an hour still soft.

  28. jenyu says:

    Linda – Did you try leaving it in overnight?

  29. Cherilyn says:

    Do you know how these would hold up to 100 degree heat if I were to make them for an outdoor bake sale for our huckleberry Festival?

  30. jenyu says:

    Cherilyn – Oh dear, I’m not sure how most things would hold up under 100 degree heat. These would probably start to flow or might sweat? Perhaps place them on a pan on top of a pack of ice?

  31. Lesa says:

    It’s been 8 hrs…it hasn’t set. I’m trying overnight and some in the freezer…followed recipe exactly.

  32. jenyu says:

    Lesa – Let’s see… did you use full fat cream cheese? I’m also wondering if people are measuring their powdered sugar with a straight scoop or if the powdered sugar is “fluffed” (as in, I scoop it up and dump it back in to let it fluff up before measuring since it usually settles pretty dense when I haven’t used it in a while). The more sugar added, the “runnier” the fudge mixture may wind up. The average weight of a cup of confectioner’s sugar is 125 grams.

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