Indulgent Red Velvet Fudge

or a touch of decadence in a two bite escape

How is it possible that I made it through the month without a single dessert recipe?  With the endless batches of cookies, bars, cherries, and treats that have been rolling out of my kitchen I have somehow neglected to share even one of these delicious recipes, and for that I offer my most sincere apologies.  There is no excuse for this neglect, but as a peace offering I present to you my favorite new development: Red Velvet Fudge. 

Since my time in the more "Southern" states I have had a growing love and appreciation for the decadent dessert that is Red Velvet Cake.  I bring this dessert as cakes, cupcakes, and even  soft sandwich cookies to gatherings every chance I get, but for the holidays I wanted to try to transform this irresistible dessert into a gift giving treat so the first thing I thought of was fudge.  This should be easy, right?  There has to be a great recipe out there on the internet somewhere for this evolution.  Nope.  Nada.  Nothing.  I found one or two recipes that somewhat resembled this delight but they seemed a tad challenged in texture, visual appeal, or flavor (depending on the particular recipe at hand).  So I decided to set to work combining tried and true fudge recipes I had collected with the inherent flavors of Red Velvet Cake.  It isn't a perfect transformation but it is pretty successful at capturing, and in some ways amplifying, the flavor and essence of the remarkable dessert it was inspired by.  So why not give it a try?  I humbly present to you (insert trumpet sound here) - Red Velvet Fudge:

2 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp butter (+ 1 tbsp for pan)
1/2 bottle red food dye
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Grease an 8 by 8-inch pan with butter.

1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan combine the sugar, chocolate, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter, and the buttermilk. Over medium heat, stir with a wooden or silicone spoon (to help maintain the temperature) until sugar is dissolved and chocolate is melted.  It won't take too long just patiently keep stirring, this is no time for a break you just got started!

2. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and boil for 3 minutes.  Do not lift the lid. 

3. Remove the cover and attach a candy thermometer to the pot. Cook until the thermometer reads 234 degrees F (there may be some flexibility here from what I've seen in other recipes, but I'm a bit compulsive on this point and personally stick to 234).

4. Remove from the heat and drop in the remaining butter cut into small pieces. Do not stir.  Seriously, no touching.  Just let it rest.  Allow the mixture cool until it drops to 130 degrees F, it'll take some time so be patient (for me this took about 40 min, I suggest leaving the area to resist the urge to mess with it).

5. Add the vanilla and food dye, mix until well-blended and the shiny texture becomes matte (this step took me about 20 min by hand with a silicone spatula, I haven't tried it with one of those fancy stand mixers but after that I have every intention to do so and see how it works).

6. Pour into the prepared pan. Let sit in cool, dry area until firm. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

This made lovely little gifts for those in my office this year, and the few bites I personally snagged were truly a decadent escape from the stressors of the season.  I do, however, advise against eating too much of this treat at once since it is quite rich and can become overpowering if you take on too much at once.  Kind of a built in "portion control" aid, which can come in handy when it comes to sweets.  Everything in moderation, but it isn't moderation without at least a taste!  So go ahead, indulge, find that moment of relief, and carry that feeling over throughout the rest of the day.  Whether you keep this for your family or spread the seasonal sweetness around, take a moment for yourself and enjoy!

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