The Practical Pantry began in 1998 as a weekly newspaper column. After 10 years, The Practical Pantry's first cookbook was published. The food column continues to be published weekly, and many of the newspaper columns appear below.

For festive sweets, turn to fudge

fudgePublished the week of December 5, 2016

‘Tis the season for hiding the scale and indulging in holiday treats. Whether you are making them for the family, for a party, or for gifts, fudge is a sweet treat that fits all the bills.

 – – – – –

Easy Chocolate Fudge

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

In a large microwave-safe bowl, place chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter. Cook in microwave oven on medium until chips are melted. Cook 1 minute. Stir, then cook 30 additional seconds at a time, stirring, until chips are melted. Total cooking time is about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in nuts, if desired. Pour into well-greased 8×8-inch glass baking dish. Refrigerate until set. Makes 16 servings.

– – – – –

Pumpkin Fudge

3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 10-ounce pack

ages cinnamon-flavored chips (such as Hershey’s)
1 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and pumpkin. Cook until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan; reduce heat to medium-low; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, until thermometer registers 234 degrees F, soft-ball stage, about 20 to 25 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil.
Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer from saucepan. Stir in cinnamon-flavored pieces until melted. Stir in marshmallow creme and walnuts. Immediately spread fudge evenly in a greased 13×9-inch pan. Score into squares while warm. Let fudge cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Cut into squares. Cover tightly and chill for up to 1 week. Makes about 96 pieces.

– – – – –

Peanut Butter Fudge

1/2 cup butter
2-1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, place butter. Add brown sugar and milk, stirring. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Mix in peanut butter and vanilla.

Place confectioners’ sugar into a large mixing bowl. Pour hot peanut butter mixture over confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth. Pour fudge into a greased 8-by-8 inch pan. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Cut into 1-inch squares. Makes about 64 pieces.

– – – – –

Pantry Pointers

For easier handling of fudge, line your pan with foil first and then coat the foil with butter. Use the foil to lift the fudge out of the pan before cutting.

Try something new with raspberries

Published the week of July 11,2016raspberries

While raspberries are available all year long, the really fresh ones are those in season locally. While eating them straight out of a berry basket is a treat all on its own, they also work as an ingredient in something new and tasty.

– – – – –

Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix raspberries and sugar together in a bowl; set aside until mixture is juicy, about 10 minutes. Mash berries using a fork until liquefied. Pour berry mixture into a jar with a lid; add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, and salt. Cover jar with lid and shake until dressing is mixed well. Store in refrigerator. Makes 16 servings.

– – – – –

Raspberry Salsa

2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
3 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno chile peppers
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

In a medium bowl, mix together raspberries, sweet onion, jalapeno chile peppers, garlic, cilantro, granulated sugar, and lime juice. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 20 servings.

– – – – –

Raspberry Almond Coffeecake

1 cup fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Combine raspberries and brown sugar in a bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Combine sour cream, butter or margarine, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and egg; add to flour mixture. Stir just until moist. Spoon 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread raspberry mixture evenly over the batter. Spoon remaining batter over raspberry mixture. Top with almonds. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Stir well. Drizzle glaze over cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

– – – – –

Pantry Pointers

Raspberries do not continue to ripen once picked, so when selecting berries, choose ones that already ripe.