Year after year, at my favorite family Christmas party, the caterer plates up the most delectable fudge I've ever had. It's the stuff of legend. The only item on the buffet, aside from the shrimp, that needs to be replenished constantly. And anyone who is familiar with the holiday party circuit knows that the cocktail shrimp disappear fast.
So, for at least the fourth year in a row, this fudge was center stage (at least from my perspective) while the other delicious bites found that they were not welcome on my small plate. It was perfectly acceptable to go overboard with the peanut butter stuff since it would be another 364 days until we'd meet again. With that long separation looming in the back of my mind, I summoned the courage to ask the most friendly and approachable of the caterers for the recipe. I suspected I'd get one of two responses: 1. "I'm sorry, but that's a secret recipe.", or 2. "I couldn't possibly give you the recipe right now. It's much too detailed."
But, hooray! Not only did the kind woman divulge the recipe, but she also gave me the entire rundown in less than 30 seconds. In disbelief, I asked to have it repeated again... could it really be that easy? "Yes!" she said. "It's a breeze!" A candy recipe that was easy sounded too good to be true, but I went ahead and committed the four ingredients to memory and off I went to enjoy the rest of the party. Cocktail shrimp, fresh strawberries (it's been months!) and fudge fudge peanut butter fudge.
A few days later, I picked up the ingredients and took over my parents' kitchen so I could share this peanut butter fudge with everyone. Normally, fudge is super dense and heavy, packed with butter, and I can barely handle more than one square inch piece at a time. But this fudge was different -- there is no butter in sight, and it packs a serious peanut butter punch, but doesn't weigh a food ton. As I was making this my mom came into the kitchen and actually exclaimed, "That peanut butter fudge smells absolutely heavenly!" She just said it as I was typing out the recipe and, ding! That sounded like a perfect name for this fudge. Much better than "the peanut butter fudge recipe that I swiped from the sweet caterer at a friend's Christmas party." Wouldn't you agree?
Heavenly Peanut Butter Fudge
-makes a 9 x 13-inch pan
A few notes: While this is super easy to make, it does require constant attention. The best candy-making advice I can give anyone is to never ever walk away from heating sugar. Be diligent!
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 (18 ounce) jar of smooth peanut butter
1 (7 ounce jar) marshmallow cream (I used Kraft brand)
Line a 9x13-inch pan with waxed or parchment paper and a 2-inch overhang; set aside.
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, bring milk and sugar to a boil while stirring constantly. Continue stirring while boiling for 2 to 3 minutes until sugar has dissolved and mixture just begins to turn cream-colored.
Turn heat to low and stir in marshmallow fluff until melted and mixture is smooth without lumps. Remove from heat and quickly but gently fold in peanut butter until just combined.
Pour mixture into lined pan and spread with a rubber spatula, smoothing out top. If desired, use parchment or waxed paper overhang to fold onto top of fudge and smooth out with hands. Return overhang to edge of pan and allow fudge to cool and set for at least four hours or up to overnight.
When set, carefully remove fudge from pan using paper overhang and cut into desired size pieces. Serve and enjoy! Keep in sealed container for up to a week.