Posted 12-18-2003 at 05:22:19
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I have about a half dozen fillings in my mouth that I can directly attribute to Mom’s homemade candy. Mom made her fudge using baker’s unsweetened chocolate and a very well guarded recipe that to my knowledge, she never shared with anyone. Some things are just sacred, and this recipe went with Mom when she passed away and I don’t begrudge her that. For the most part, her fudge came out of a heavenly smelling kitchen, in little dark brown hunks roughly an inch by an inch and about as thick. The only variation was that some times it had nuts in it, and sometimes it was crunchy, sometimes creamy. Either way a little dab would do you. It was very rich, and best eaten in nibbles, and sometimes I could sit watching television and whittle away at a piece, stretching it all the way through ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ and ‘Frosty the Snowman’.
I asked her one year about the difference in texture and she explained very patiently...
“Sometimes Mama forgets, and lets it cook too long. That would be why it gets crunchy.”
Now that I make fudge by my own recipe occasionally, I know just what she was talking about. Having made a few batches that couldn’t be broken up with a ball peen hammer, and a few that had to be eaten with a spoon, I have learned all about the timing thing. Mom’s fudge was, without a doubt, one of the things that made Christmas. Until the year of the colored fudge.
The afternoon of December 24th of any given year, was when Mom set about making her candy. We relied on that schedule, and by five or six o’clock Christmas eve, we were lined up at the kitchen door with our hands out like a bunch of little beggars. We knew that she was going to tell us we had to wait until after supper, but it didn’t stop us from trying anyway. One year, dinner was done, and the dishes washed and put away, and the four of us kids and Daddy sat in the living room waiting with bated breath for the fudge to be delivered.
Mom sauntered into the living room and with a flourish, placed the same old chipped candy platter on the coffee table. It went so quiet in the room you could have heard a pin drop. There on the platter was a selection of fudge colored in such a manner that it was better suited to Easter than Christmas. There was pink, pale green, white, butterscotch yellow, and a soft blue color, some with nuts, some without. Mom was clearly proud of herself for providing such a stunning variety of candy made in her own kitchen with her own two hands. Now that I look back on it, it was quite a feat, and must have been a lot of work, but with no prior warning none of us knew quite what to do. Except my little sister Dianne. Acting purely on instinct, she busted out bawling.
“Where’s the chaw-klit?! Mama!” Tug, tug on Mom’s apron, “where’s the chaw-klit?”
“Well, it’s right there, honey. Mama made white fudge this year and I put food coloring in some of it so it would be pretty. It’s good! It’ll taste just the same. Try it, you’ll see.”
Dianne chose that moment to go completely and utterly stone deaf.
“Where’s... the chaw-klit... Mama.” It was no longer a question but an accusation.
Daddy, ever the brave soul, commended Mom on her creativity and took the first piece and made such a big deal about how delicious it was, that everybody but Dianne, who stood to the side, her thin little stick arms crossed over her chest, chose a color and ventured a taste. I am sorry to say that it was not the same. I don’t know how or why, but it wasn’t, and the one person in the house who could have stood to eat more than her
share, skinny little Dianne, refused to allow the alien colored candy to pass her lips.
Instead, she did what any normal four year old kid would do under the circumstances. She sulked and pouted. She sulked and pouted all the way through ‘The Grinch’. Then she sulked and pouted through ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’. She even sulked and pouted while my sister and I bathed her and got her in her nightgown. I don’t think she said a word since her last bitter, condemning demand for ‘chaw-klit’.
When we exited the bathroom with a clean, but still pouting Dianne, Mom was not in her chair in the living room as she should have been. Daddy was engrossed in his crossword puzzle and ‘Laugh-In’ and when questioned did not know where his wife was, until she entered the living room a second time, carrying a small plate complete with dark brown hunks of fudge roughly an inch by an inch and about as thick.
“Honey! Don’t you think you did enough?” My father exclaimed.
“I couldn’t ruin my baby’s Christmas eve, so I made her some chaw-klit.” Mom sniffed, clearly gone all emotional over the whole fudge incident.
“Now, look at you.” My father addressed Dianne, frowning. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself for being so spoiled.”
Dianne, with a double fistful of ‘chaw-klit’ was anything but ashamed, and I must say the rest of the household breathed a collective sigh of relief and joy at the appearance of Mama’s traditional brown fudge. The colored stuff got eaten eventually, mostly by Daddy and was pawned off to unsuspecting guests, who sadly had no idea that what they were getting was a mere glimpse of what Mom could produce in her tiny kitchen, and from that day forward, Mom saved her forays into creative colors for cake icings, and cookies and such, and every year after that Dianne got her chaw-klit, that was sometimes crunchy and sometimes creamy, but was always delicious and made with love.