Mom’s Million Dollar Christmas Fudge

Published 10:05 am Monday, December 11, 2023

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My mom was a great cook. Growing up during the Great Depression and learning from her mother, my Gramma Nano, Mom honed her skills in the kitchen feeding her family for many years. Give her an onion and a few basic ingredients and you could eat well. She was known for her banana pudding, a staple at every 4-H potluck when I was a kid. Her Depression Era tomato soup was also a favorite and hit the spot on cold rainy days. Mom’s turkey dinners at Thanksgiving were legendary. I have never tasted cornbread dressing that could compare to Mom’s. Not only would she stuff the bird, usually the biggest one she could find at our local Safeway, but she would make additional pans of dressing, so we had plenty to go with our turkey sandwiches after the holiday. But nothing compared to her amazing Christmas fudge. I am convinced that Mom made the best tasting fudge ever consumed on planet Earth.
She called it old-fashioned fudge. Rumor had it Mom’s family had somehow acquired the well-known See’s Candy Company fudge recipe.
See’s candy is famous. The See’s family candy shops began popping up all over California beginning in the 1920s and they do make great fudge. You can still buy it today. They now have stores nationwide, and you can also buy their fudge online.
The See’s fudge connection may be true, but I suspect that Mom’s recipe is a slightly modified version of Mamie Eisenhour’s Million Dollar Fudge recipe that circulated through the culinary world in the 1950s For those of you who are asking who Mamie Eisenhour was – she was the wife of our 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhour, in office from 1953-1961. He was also a five-star general and the former Supreme Commander of all Allied Forces in Europe during WWII. Ike was a great president, and I’m sure he thoroughly enjoyed his wife’s delicious fudge.
Some quick research revealed that the only difference between Mamie Eisenhour’s fudge recipe and my Mom’s was the added vanilla in Mom’s version. Whatever the case, what follows is Mom’s recipe. I invite you to make tubs and tubs of this delectable fudge to enjoy with your family as you celebrate Christmas this year.

4-1/2 cups sugar
24 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (two 12 oz. bags)
16 oz. small marshmallows
1/2 lb. butter
2 cups walnuts
(you can use other nuts – some like pecans – but I think walnuts are best for fudge)
2 teaspoons vanilla
13 oz. (1 can) evaporated milk
Be sure to use evaporated milk, not sweetened condensed milk.
Note: when buying evaporated milk today, you will typically find only 12 oz. cans. Mom’s recipe calls for a 13 oz. can. 13 oz. cans were common years ago, but many food products have now been downsized. You can choose to add an extra ounce of condensed milk in this case or use only one 12 oz. can. I prefer to add the extra ounce in an effort to stay true to the original recipe.

First step, mix chocolate chips, marshmallows, and butter in a big bowl and have it ready. You can warm or melt butter separately before adding so all is easier to blend.
Next, mix sugar and evaporated milk in a large pan or pot and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for exactly 9-1/2 minutes – STIR CONSTANTLY.
Pour boiling mixture over ingredients in bowl and stir until fully melted.
Finally, add walnuts and vanilla. Mix well. Pour into buttered pans and cool. After cooling on the counter or stove top, cover pans and place in fridge so fudge is nice and firm. Then eat all you want!
Merry Christmas!
© 2023 Jody Dyer

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