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Wrap It Up with Ribbon

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Ribbon fudge, that is!

What happened to this year? I can’t believe that I’m working on my list of who I want homemade gifts for this Christmas season. As I have most of my family gifts bought and wrapped, I’m wanting to give that special homemade something to others this year. The tradition of giving something homemade started when my girls were little, and even though they are grown women with families of their own, I still give homemade gifts. Now it’s just me making and creating these gifts, and it lets me look back to all the spilled paint and glitter or spilled flour and sprinkles. That’s why I’m happy I started this tradition years ago because you can’t buy the memories I have made with the kids I love.

Once again, I’m challenging myself to do something different or new. Last year, my New Year’s resolution was to add new recipes to my recipe box and I want to make sure that I follow through. I have added a few new recipes during the year, but right now I’m working on a couple of new fudge recipes for this holiday season. My inspiration for these recipes came from the Wine and Chocolate Festival, and this unique pairing of sweet chocolate and wine seems to be a good match for this year’s perfect gift giving. In the Central Valley area, we grow and harvest many different varieties of grapes. I would bet that many of you reading this are either grape growers or wine makers here in the Valley, or maybe you’re just a wine sipper. Many wineries here have their own specialty wines, and that’s a large part of the Valley’s beauty and uniqueness. If you live here or have been passing through, you might know that wine and chocolate festivals are a popular event to attend. If you have not heard of them, just do the electronic thing and Google it; you can find a wine and chocolate festival any time of the year in California. So, with that, I decided to come up with a small version of my own homemade wine and chocolate festival in a gift for Christmas.

After researching and doing some taste testing myself, I have created Strawberry Ribbon Fudge to pair with champagne and Dark Chocolate Fudge to pair with a cabernet, using one of our local wineries for this great combination. I’m pairing the Strawberry Ribbon Fudge with Viaggio’s California Sparking Wine and my Dark Chocolate Fudge with Viaggio’s Cabernet Sauvignon wine. Here’s a little secret; I used a bit of the red wine in the fudge to help marry the flavors. Don’t worry about the alcohol because it cooks out during the process while enhancing the flavor of the fudge, so it’s kid friendly. Let’s get started.

Strawberry Ribbon Fudge
2 tsp. strawberry extract
1 tsp. red gel food coloring
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted sweet butter, softened
2/3 cup half and half
1 12-oz. bag white chocolate chips
1 7-oz. jar marshmallow whip
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract 

In a small bowl, combine the red food coloring and the strawberry extract. Whisk until combined and set aside. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish with soft butter to make the fudge easy to remove after it is set.

In a 3-quart sauce pan with a lid, combine the sugar, butter and half and half. Place on medium heat and stir until the mixture is boiling. Once it comes to a boil, stir consistently and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the white chocolate chips and cover the pot. Let stand for 2 minutes. Using a whisk, whisk until smooth. Add marshmallow whip and vanilla extract; continue to mix until it becomes smooth again.

Pour two-thirds of the fudge into the baking dish. Stir the red strawberry mixture into the remaining third of the fudge. Drop dollops of the strawberry fudge onto the white fudge and swirl with a butter knife. Do not mix completely; you want it to look like a pile of Christmas ribbon. Allow it to cool overnight before cutting. Remove the fudge from the pan by using a spatula and cut into 1-inch squares. Store in an air-tight container.

Dark Chocolate Fudge
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup red wine (may substitute half and half)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
7-ounce jar marshmallow cream
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Butter a 9-inch square baking dish with soft butter to make the fudge easy to remove after it is set. In a 4-quart pan, add sugar, butter, half and half and red wine; if you’re not a wine fan, substitute the same amount of half and half. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Turn burner off and add vanilla, chocolate chips and marshmallow cream. Mix until smooth and add chopped nuts. Allow fudge to cool overnight before cutting. Remove the fudge from the pan by using a spatula and cut into 1-inch squares. Store in an air-tight container.

I will be using festive cellophane bags and ribbon to wrap the wine, and I found some small flat boxes to store the fudge in for giving. I place a paper doily in the bottom and six pieces of fudge, then wrap the ribbon around the box that matches the ribbon I used on the wine, making it easy to grab and give. These have turned out so cute that I can’t wait to give them away.

Remember that Christmas isn’t about giving material things and spending as much money as you have, but about loving and taking care of each other. May your Christmas be merry, loving and caring. Enjoy, from my recipe box to yours. Merry Christmas!