If it weren't for a Vassar College student who botched a recipe for making caramels or toffee, we may never have come to know the joys of fudge.
Karen Milbourn, spokeswoman for Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, reports that even though the details are sketchy, the enterprising student was undaunted when she "fudged" the recipe and eventually wound up selling the confection in a local grocery store for 40 cents a pound. That was in 1886.
Apparently word about the "failure" spread -- at least among the Seven Sisters colleges -- because 12 years later a Wellesley College student wrote about fudge-making in her yearbook.
Milbourn says Fannie Farmer, director of the famous Boston Cooking School -- and for whom Fanny Farmer candies are named despite the different spelling of the first name -- knew a good thing when she tasted it and began making fudge in the early 1900s. And it was in the 1920s that she developed her Million Dollar Fudge recipe that today still makes one of the most famous candies in the country.
Here's the famous recipe, taken from last year's 13th revised edition of "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook," by Marion Cunningham.
12 ounces semisweet chocolate bits or semisweet squares cut in small pieces
1 cup marshmallow cream
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts
Oil a jellyroll pan or 9x9-inch pan. Combine the chocolate and the marshmallow cream in a large bowl and set aside. Mix the sugar, butter and milk in a three-quart heavy pot, stirring to combine well. Gradually bring to a boil over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Dip a pastry brush in cold water and wash down the sides of the pot. Continue to boil, stirring constantly without touching the spoon to the sides of the pot, for five minutes, then pour the mixture over the chocolate mixture and add the salt and vanilla. Stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth, then stir in the nuts. Spread on the cookie sheet or pan and let stand until firm. Cut into squares and store airtight. Makes about two pounds.