One longstanding Christmas tradition in my family has been to make fudge. By the time I am done this year, I will have made eight batches to give to friends, family and neighbors.
Decades ago, my father found a recipe for soldier's fudge, and began making it each holiday season. Soldier's fudge is a very old recipe that has apparently been around since at least the time of the Civil War. Because it is very easy to make and keeps well, it became popular to send it to loved ones serving in the military at Christmastime.
I took up the tradition of making fudge from my father, although over the years I have tweaked the original recipe. Instead of adding nuts I have been adding dried cherries, and everyone seems to like that version even better.
The last couple years I have taken a batch of fudge down to Mexico as a gift for my friend Alejandro's family. (Fortunately I have not run into any difficulties taking it through security or customs!) They really like it, especially Alejandro's little nephew Ezra. Last summer when Alejandro was visiting up here, we took a trip to Mackinac Island. The island is famous for its fudge shops, and Alejandro bought some to take home with him. Ezra tasted it, and proclaimed that it wasn't as good as my fudge!
So here is my recipe for Christmas fudge...
In a double boiler combine two 12 ounce bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips, two quarter ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate, and about one and a half 14 ounce cans of sweetened condensed milk. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted. It should have a satiny smooth texture. If it is grainy, stir in a bit more sweetened condensed milk. (I think that the more you stir it the smoother it becomes. After the chocolate has thoroughly melted, I have the habit of giving it 100 more stirs.)
Remove the mixture from the heat, and add a splash of vanilla extract and one and a half 5 ounce bags of dried cherries. Combine thoroughly. Spoon the fudge into a pan. Allow it to cool and then refrigerate overnight.
The next day you can cut the fudge into squares. (That's probably the hardest part of the whole process.) It keeps well and does not require refrigeration.
For me, it wouldn't be Christmas without fudge!!!