Sunday, September 06, 2020

Our Fudge of Perpetual Sorrows

Hopefully we're together on Instagram at this point, where you can follow all my tragic musings on the passage of time, etc. For example, here, where I write about our Ben leaving us (again) and how happy-sad that makes me, blah blah, same as I ever was. 

When I posted this picture on Facebook, my friend Suzy wrote, "And I was so sure he was going to turn out all wrong back in his girly days." I laughed again just typing that here. If you're a long-time reader, you may remember how much shit everyone gave me about Ben's self-presentation over on babycenter. He was recently musing about turning out cis and straight--even though we'd always given him total freedom to express himself--but how, if we'd shamed him and badgered him to be boyier, we would always have had to wonder if that's who he was really meant to be or if we'd just topiaried him with the heteronormative clippers into that particular shape. Meanwhile, his toddler tiara-and-tutu-wearing sister has turned out gay as a glorious butch Easter bonnet, so go figure.

Anyhoo. Ben's summer bucket list included "making fudge." On his last day home he was scrambling around, packing and gathering and laundering and stealing our spices, and I said, "Hey! Let's just make fudge at Thanksgiving!" And he was like, "What? No! We have to make it today!" I did not burst into tears and fling my old-lady arms around his waist, which is as high up on him as I can reach. I just said, "Okay! Let's." And it is truly the saddest, best fudge I have ever eaten.

Pink shirt! Good god! #stillhisfavoritecolor

Our Fudge of Perpetual Sorrows
Just slightly adapted from this penuche recipe. I have to recommend only making it if you have a candy thermometer. I think "penuche" just means "brown sugar" or maybe "you won't be sorry" or "until you get a sugar migraine."

2/3 cup evaporated whole milk
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks salted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup pecans (this makes it taste like pralines--but you could use walnuts)

1. Put the evaporated milk, brown sugar, butter, and salt in a heavy medium-sized pot, and bring it all to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.

2. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula to makes sure it's not sticking on the bottom, until a candy thermometer reads 240°.  (This took roughly 15 or 20 minutes.)

3. Carefully (it's very hot) scrape the mixture into the metal bowl of a stand mixer and beat it with the paddle at medium speed while you add the vanilla and then, gradually, the powdered sugar. Stop beating when the fudge is thick and smooth. The recipe says 3-4 minutes, but this happened nearly instantly for us. (If you do this with a hand mixer, just make sure not use a plastic bowl, which will melt.)

4. Stir the nuts in with a spoon and spread the (very, very stiff) mixture into an ungreased 8-inch square pan. As it cooled, we kind of pressed it in with our hands. Refrigerate uncovered for about 30 minutes, then cut it into small squares (we pried the whole thing out the pan first) and store airtight at room temperature while you and Birdy weep into the cats' fur.

5. Vote and make sure all your friends are voting and do something, even if it's just something small, every day until the election to make sure that the democrats win because oh my god.