The Cookie Crumbles

Now is the time of year when everyone, everywhere joyously gets their bake on.

Except me.

Lord, I hate to bake.

And the baking? It hates me. I have butchered pound cakes, debunked 'fool proof' cookie recipes, let untold numbers of pies boil over in the oven, and vulcanized oven-steamed puddings.

I once tried four times in a single day to bake a gingerbread cake for a friend's gathering. It had to be done that day, by the dinner hour.

Three trips to the grocery store and nobody knows (I know but I'm not telling) how much money later, I finally bought a cake mix, threw in some sliced pears and called it a day. If you love a challenge and want to try your hand at defeating the devil, in the form of the cake recipe from hell, the recipe is here. Good luck and please don't tell me if it turns out perfectly. I cling to the belief that only my friend Carolyn can successfully wrestle this recipe and come out on top.

This Christmas I am giving myself the gift of Not Baking. Rather than try to achieve the Martha Standard of Christmas Cookie Perfection I will make fudge.

Fudge is great. I mean it is seriously rewarding. It cooks up quickly and a little goes a long way - there is no need to make 50 batches. And success is almost guaranteed - who doesn't love fudge? It is gluten-free (isn't it?) can be nut-free and - perhaps this goes without saying but you never know - it should not contain shellfish. Thus it is 75% diet-sensitivity-friendly*. I'm sold. Are you sold? I am totally sold.

I've been making the following fudge for years - except last year when we didn't have a kitchen and the year before when we moved houses.

Other than that? Years and years. The original recipe is from the now-defunct Chocolatier magazine and...

***Time Lapse ***
I thought The Recipe was gone. I looked everywhere, high and low, and couldn't find it. I thought I'd lost it in the move. Panic attack. Googled the ingredients and came up with - absolutely nothing. So I think it is safe to say that, without this copy, the recipe would be lost to the ages. Luckily, the tiny scrap of paper was stuck to the inside pocket of my recipe book. :: great, heaving, sigh of relief::

The recipe is for microwave fudge, but because I tend to overcook/dehydrate things in the nuker, I melt the chocolate in a double-boiler (aka a Pyrex bowl over a simmering pot).

Black Forest Fudge

12 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsley chopped
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened, condensed milk
2 oz. kirsch (cherry liquor)
1 cup dried cherries

1. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil so that the foil extends 2 inches beyond the sides of the pan.

2. In a 3-quart microwaveable bowl, combine the semisweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, milk and kirsch. Microwave uncovered, on High, for 3 minuts or until the chocolate begins to melt, stirring halfway through the heating time. Gently stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

3. Stir in the cherries. Do not overstir. Transfer the fudge into the prepared pan and, using an offset spatula, spread the fudge to the edges. Refrigerate 4 hours until firm.

4. Using the edges of the foil as handles, lift out the fudge.  Leave on counter to come up to nearly room temperature. On a cutting board, with a serrated bread knife, cut into 1-inch pieces. To store the fudge, refrigerate in an airtight container.

*Obviously not diabetic-friendly or Paleo.