Jessie Sheehan's Magic Fudge


Equal parts pleasure and pain, food on the internet is a sticky business to get involved with. These days, the field is so crowded, I can’t hear myself think (says the old lady who started a food blog in 2007, shaking her cane and spilling her Sanka all over the lawn). But! The beauty of this journey is how I, and so many food friends, have evolved and found our rightful places within all the crazy. Even if I now describe myself as “a lapsed food blogger” I’ll never not be grateful for the way my career grew with the simple decision to open a Blogspot account so many years ago, and has twisted and turned ever since. These days, one of my favorite things to do is chat with cookbook author friends I’ve made on this journey and say, “So how the hell did you get here?”, because it is never, ever a boring answer.

One of those beloved friends is Jessie Sheehan, a firecracker of a human who is a superstar baker and makes the most fun books. She started as an actress, then went into law, THEN, just like me, lost her damn mind after having kids and needed to figure out what really lit her up. That lead her to bake for Matt Lewis at the now-famous Baked bakeries in New York, and then start developing her own recipes. Jessie’s first book was Icebox Cakes, a cheery little volume which, thanks to its dessert-y, single-subject nature and the fact that our last names land cozily in alphabetical order, often snuggles right up next to Marshmallow Madness in libraries and it warms my heart every time I see this happen.

Anyway! Jessie’s latest book, The Vintage Baker, bust onto the scene this past Spring to great fanfare. I couldn’t complete half a scroll without seeing some top-shelf press for this beauty of a book. It’s packed with great old-fashioned recipes made modern with Jessie’s signature twists, and it’s the kind of book that makes it hard to choose what to make first. But because of that aforementioned press, I couldn’t get away from her Chocolate Marshmallow Walnut Fudge with Sea Salt, and soon found myself not only trying her recipe, but playing with the method for my new book as well, because it’s the perfect way to make and get homemade candy in your face as fast as possible, without fiddling with candy thermometers and all the risky/grainy/stressful aspects of scratch-made fudge.

What you get with this recipe is a totally riffable base of good chocolate and sweetened condensed milk, into which you can throw all manner of tasty bits and add-ins (I made mine in the photo above with a variety of nuts, left rattling around in numerous little packets in the freezer, bringing them back to life with a good toasting first). If you’ve known me for more than a minute, you know a good building block recipe is my personal religion. So here I’m sharing Jessie’s recipe, loaded with the perfect combination of mallows, nuts, and crunch salt, along with some encouragement to play with this and make it your own.

Jessie Sheehan’ s Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge with Sea Salt

Makes 36 pieces

16 oz/455 g dark chocolate (60% cacao), coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 1/4 cups/300 ml sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups/240 g toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

3 cups/150 g mini marshmallows

Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Grease an 8-by-8-by-2-in [20-by-20-by-5-cm] pan with nonstick cooking spray or softened butter. Line with parchment paper.

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat. Add the salt, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla, stirring to blend. (The chocolate may seize up temporarily.)

Add the walnuts and marshmallows and stir with a wooden spoon until they are fully incorporated (the marshmallows will not melt). Transfer the fudge to the prepared pan, drape with plastic wrap, and flatten with your hands. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and turbinado sugar

Place in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours.

Using a sharp paring knife, cut into 36 pieces and serve. Fudge will keep tightly wrapped on the counter for up to 1 week.

Shauna Sever