I've been reading sugar-free and regular fudge recipes on the Internet for the last week. Regular fudge usually uses sugar or corn syrup as its thickening agent. Too many sugar-free recipes stick in cream cheese or peanut butter, both of which IMHO do weird things to the flavor. I don't want sour fudge, and I don't want chocolate-peanut fudge.
The recipe needs the following:
- Some kind of chocolate, whether it be cocoa powder, semi-sweet (sugar free) chocolate, or unsweetened chocolate.
- Some kind of thickening agent. Since I'm rejecting cream cheese and peanut butter, the obvious ones left are gelatin and corn starch - or some combination thereof. I did find a sugar-free marshmallow creme recipe that uses egg whites as its thickener, and I plan to try making it and using it in a future batch (Mom's recipe calls for marshmallow creme), but not this time.
- Some kind of sweetener. Most recipes seem to use liquid sweetener, while some use Splenda or occasionally some sugar alcohol such as Xylitol.
- Some kind of dairy component to give it a "creamy" flavor. Some recipes use evaporated or sweetened condensed milk. Obviously the latter is not a viable option. Some of the recipes also use butter. I was surprised to not see cream in any of the recipes I looked at.
- Some kind of fat for mouth feel. Sometimes the recipe uses solid chocolate as the "fat." I am not trying to make a low fat diet (it's a nice idea, but it's not The Goal here), so I'd rather err on the side of fattiness.
For batch one, I used:
- 2 oz (by weight) of unsweetened chocolate ("Oban chocolate liquor wafers")
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 24 packets of Splenda
- 2 c nonfat milk (it's what I had on hand!)
- 4 T unflavored gelatin (4 packets)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
While the gelatin is blooming, line a pan with cooking parchment (I was looking for an 8x8 pan but had to settle for a 9x7 one, but it was okay). Do allow excess parchment to hang outside the pan; you'll be using it later to help remove the fudge.
Next, combine the rest of the ingredients, except for the vanilla extract, in a pot over medium heat, continuously stirring and beating with a whisk to avoid having lumps form. If the stuff starts thickening too fast, take it off the heat, but do keep the whisk moving.
Mix the bloomed gelatin and milk mixture with a (different) wire whisk to break up any potential lumps, then microwave for 3 minutes, stopping to stir the mixture every 40-50 seconds to avoid having clumps form (take the other pan off the heat when you do this).
Once the gelatin is dissolved in the heated milk, slowly incorporate the milk and gelatine mixture into the chocolate, whisking till smooth before each amount (I did it in six parts). When everything is incorporated, add the vanilla extract.
Pour the fudge mixture into the parchment-lined pan. Cover the top with a piece of wax paper or parchment to prevent any kind of skin from forming.
Refrigerate (you can speed this up by using the freezer) until solid. When firm, remove the top piece of paper, and pull on the excess parchment on the sides to remove, using the excess paper sides as "handles." Lay the parchment paper flat, then use a pizza cutter to slice the fudge into bite-sized pieces.
The end result had a decent flavor profile but was a little "off" texture-wise. Warren tried it and (accurately) remarked, "it's a little Jell-o-ey." It kind of looks like fudge, kind of tastes like it (oddly enough, I think it needs more salt!), but the mouth feel wasn't quite right. I am guessing I need more fat in it -- way more fat -- and perhaps might have a better result if I made it with standard (4% fat) milk (which I don't normally keep on hand), cream (which I also don't normally keep on hand), or regular (not skim) condensed milk. I also wonder how using a sugar alcohol, such as erythritol (which I do have) might have made a difference.
Any other suggestions are welcome.