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During the tenure of American President Dwight Eisenhower, between 1953 and 1961, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower suggested a recipe for million dollar fudge. Contrary to the ironic name, it is a rather cost-effective way to make fudge. Combining just sugar, butter, milk, marshmallow cream, vanilla and chocolate, Mamie's fudge became a popular tradition despite the fact that it was her husband who had a sincere interest in cooking.
According to a 2007 feature in Tango magazine about former first ladies, the Army wife Mamie Eisenhower was known for her frugality, having lived on dozens of bases throughout the world — with and without her husband at the front. According to biographies, she clipped coupons for staff members. Even though the million dollar fudge recipe caught on and is still widely distributed in 2011, there is little evidence to suggest that the first lady cared about culinary pursuits.
The Eisenhower Library's recipe for million dollar fudge, available in the library's online archive, contains just cost-effective pantry ingredients in very precise amounts to properly form the fudge texture. First, 4.5 cups (about 1,000 g) of sugar is boiled with a "large can" of evaporated milk, 2 tbsp. (about 30 g) of butter, and a pinch of salt. This is then poured over 24 oz. (about 680 g) of chocolate — half semi-sweet chips and half sweet — as well as 2 cups (about 450 ml) of marshmallow cream and 2 cups (about 450 g) of crushed nuts like walnuts, pecans or almonds.
The contents of the bowl are stirred vigorously until the chocolate is fully melted and melded with the other ingredients. Million dollar fudge is then poured into a square oven pan and set aside to cool. The longer the fudge cools, the richer and harder to divide it should be. For easy apportionment, the fudge should be cut immediately after it has cooled, then left to further harden in a covered container, on the counter or in the refrigerator.
Mamie Eisenhower approved the menus for White House gatherings. According to an exhaustive recount of popular First Menus in the book Our White House, however, the National Children's Book and Literacy Initiative asserts that it was President Eisenhower who had an interest in cooking. The Our White House does not include a recipe for million dollar fudge, though it does have a rather complicated recipe for Ike's sherry-doused green turtle soup.
My mom used to make this fudge at Christmas. I make the kind that uses sweetened, condensed milk, marshmallows and chocolate chips. It's much easier and just about goof-proof. You just heat up the milk and the marshmallows, add a pinch of salt and the vanilla, take it off the heat, stir in the chocolate chips, pour into a greased pan and you're done. Never gets grainy and it's always smooth and delicious.
My cousin makes a variation that uses a cup of peanut butter chips and two cups of chocolate chips. It's really good, too. She's also used butterscotch chips, and that was great, also.
This also called "Fantasy fudge" and the recipe is on the back of nearly every jar of marshmallow cream.
If you make this version of fudge, you need to wait until you have a cold, clear night. This is a cooked candy and everything depends on how much humidity is in the air whether you will get a good, smooth product, or whether the fudge will go grainy on you. I've used a fudge kit that included evaporated milk and I added my own butter and vanilla flavoring. It worked pretty well. I suspect the sugar mixture had some kind of stabilizer in it to keep it from getting grainy.
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