My journey as the fudge apprentice continues...and it will be continuing for quite some time, I hear. I won't lose the "apprentice" title until I have made over 4,000 lbs of fudge. Yowzers! 4,000 lbs seems like a lot, but I truly learn something new each time I make a batch of fudge. I no longer get as nervous, but still find myself double checking my steps. Which, I found, is a good thing, because it is so easy to make a mistake or forget a step! I definitely have to keep my head in the game and stay focused on the task, or rather the fudge, at hand.
This week we'll be making a new flavor or two (at least new to me--did you get to try Rootbeer Float Fudge last summer?), and let me tell you, I am so excited to not only to make the new flavors, but to taste them as well! With three boys at home, I am sure I will be taking home some of those new flavors to share with those rambunctious little boys, who actually aren't so little anymore.
As my fudge apprentice journey continues, I find myself wondering just how many pounds of fudge I have to make before I get the coveted "Fudge Master" title....
One way you know summer is here (or almost here) is by the sight of Rootbeer Float Fudge in the fudge cabinet. You'll see it there this upcoming weekend--just in time for the red, white and blue Memorial Day weekend!
We've had a lot of fun making fudge and growing our business, but we never want to lose site of giving back. I've been in Rotary since 1984 and our motto is "Service Above Self." Here at Culinary Apple we strive to live up to that motto, as well. A few years ago, we learned of a program at our local elementary school called TARGET Afters Community Link Project. TARGET After's is an after school program that provides students with hands-on assistance in reading or math. We got involved with the program as a Community Link member, and one of the TARGET Afters classes "adopted" us as their Link. So, what does all this mean? Well, the class learns about their Link's role in the community; they get to visit their Link, and then do a reading and math activity in their class that relates to the work of their Link. Ultimately, this project gives students the opportunity to apply real world connections to work they do in Afters. They build relationships with their community, and foster an awareness of how they can be a productive community member.
So, how does Papa Dave's Fudge play into all this? Simple! Reading and math skills are imperative when making fudge! It starts with reading the recipe, then applying math to make and cut the fudge. We started by scheduling two groups of 4th graders to visit our store. We gave them a short tour, then headed for the kitchen. We like to engage the kids right away, so we asked if any of them knew what Fudge is. About half of them had an idea that it was some kind of chocolate. They were so surprised when we gave them a taste of Rootbeer Float Fudge, or Creamsicle! Next, we showed them the recipe for a half batch, which makes 18 pounds of fudge. We talked about the importance of fractions, weights and measurements. For example, to make a half batch, we would need 1 pound of butter, 48 ounces of cream, 3 pounds of chocolate and 10 pounds of sugar. Their eyes always get big, and we know we have their attention when we show them what 10 pounds of sugar looks like!
Then we leave the kitchen, and head to the front counter where we cut and weigh the fudge. We let the kids know that you must take and pass a test given by our state's health department before you can make, cut or serve fudge--more reading! It's always a fun afternoon sharing with the kids, and watching them grow and learn. We're excited to be a Community Link for the TARGET After's class, and hope to keep strengthening that relationship.
Heather is doing a great job in the short time that she has been making fudge. It certainly has been a big help to me. I just have to make sure I don't disappear like I did a couple weeks ago while she was in the process of pouring and swirling designs in the fudge trays. Next time I will let everyone know where I'm going! I have asked Heather to give her thoughts on how she feels her fudge apprenticeship is going. ~ Dave
And so goes my journey as the new fudge apprentice. I now realize why I will be an "apprentice" until I have made a few thousand pounds of fudge--there is a lot more that goes into mastering fudge making than when it's made at home. I am currently trying to master the "hurry-up" technique. I find myself focusing so much on perfecting everything that I forget to do it quickly! If I'm not quick enough the fudge will settle and I lose the smooth, mirror-like surface. That's what I will be focusing on perfecting now...hurry up and make it smooth! Wish me luck...? ~ Heather
When she says hurry up and make it smooth, she's right, you do have to move quickly. The fudge reaches 165 degrees in the kettle, but once you start pouring it cools rapidly. With our layered fudges like Chocolate Mint Swirl or Amaretto Chocolate fudge, we do a swirled pattern so the chocolate mixes with the flavored fudge on top. It not only makes it more attractive, but it tastes better, too! If you take too much time perfecting the swirled designs then move the pan to where it will set up overnight, the top 1/4 inch can shift causing a ripple effect, and you lose that smooth, glass-like surface. The good news is that the shift doesn't affect the great taste and creamy texture of Papa Dave's Fudge.
The Tower of Fudge!
Heather did a great job making our newest flavor: Salted Caramel Fudge. We put it in the cabinet this morning, and sold 3 pounds in less than 3 hours--and this is our slow season at the Lake! I can't imagine how much we're going to have to make once Memorial Day hits! Next I think we'll try a Dark Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Fudge. Doesn't that sound terrific? ~ Dave
What in the world does the historic Ruby Theatre have to do with Papa Dave's Fudge? Located in the resort community of Lake Chelan, WA, the Ruby Theatre opened its doors in the summer of 1914. It is believed to be the oldest, continuously running movie theater in the state of Washington. The Ruby is also among the oldest and best preserved movie theater in the country.
Larry Hibbard and his wife Mary Murphy currently own and operate the Ruby. In 2013, a new concession stand was constructed. The owners felt they needed something locally made to offer their patrons, so they came to the Culinary Apple to see if we could come up with a fudge flavor that could be the signature fudge of the Ruby. We thought Rocky Road would be the perfect choice, and it became known as Ruby's Rocky Road Fudge, or Triple R for short! It's all about small town America when you enter the Ruby Theatre, and we are proud to be a part of the experience they create. Next time you're watching a movie at the Ruby, try a hunk of that famous fudge!
Since we're talking about historical movie theaters, I thought it would be the perfect time to give you some historical fudge facts according the punchbowl online. According to legend, the origin of fudge can be traced back to the 1800's when people used the word "fudge" to mean "messed up." One day, a chef accidentally "fudged" a batch of caramel he was trying to make, and in the process, invented the delicious confection we have come to love.
Before I sign off, it's never too early to mark your calendar for Tuesday June 16th to recognize National Fudge Day! And remember, fudge is like family...mostly sweet with a few nuts!
2014 finished as our best year ever! Thank you to everyone who visited our store or shopped online! As a small, independent retailer, it means a lot to us!! Papa Dave’s Fudge Factory had its best year also. We normally make around 3,500 pounds of fudge per year. We hit 4,300 pounds in 2014! Wow, what a year. Our new webpage had a lot to do with the increased fudge sales. Apple pie fudge, pumpkin pie fudge and candy cane fudge were all seasonal favorites. For Valentine’s Day gifts we will be doing a vanilla peppermint with sprinkles of red, white and pink. It should be a big hit!
This year, I’ve decided to bring on a fudge apprentice. Because of the versatility of our staff, I didn’t have to look far to find a good fit. Heather was excited to take on the new challenge, and I’m excited to have a little help. Especially if we’re going to shoot for 5,000 pounds of fudge in 2015…! I’ll let Heather introduce herself:
Dave is right, I do like a new challenge, and I’m excited to try my hand at making the famous Papa Dave’s Fudge. My goal is to make the same, quality fudge that Papa Dave is known for, and boy, do I have my work cut out for me! The first thing I realized was how much upper body strength is needed to sling a commercial batch of fudge. I am lacking in that area, and am looking forward to the strength I will be building! The second thing I noticed was how much will power it takes to not taste test each batch. The smells are amazing—making the peanut butter chocolate fudge almost dropped me to my knees. Today, we’ll be making my favorite of all fudge favorites…Maple Walnut. I know that’s Dave’s favorite, too, so maybe we’ll both have to do a little quality control after this batch is done…
Offering an Apple Fudge may seem like an obvious choice for us. I mean, we are known as The Apple Store, and we do specialize in Apple Gifts along with our homemade fudge. So why not offer it? The truth is, I have tried an apple fudge in the past, and just wasn't happy with it. If I'm going to call it Papa Dave's Fudge, then it better be delicious!
Today, I tried making it again with a few changes. Taking inspiration from my popular Pumpkin Pie Fudge, I thought it would be great to try an Apple Pie Fudge. I decided to be truly like apple pie, real apples would need to be included. Fresh apples won't work it fudge, so I looked to dried. Dried fruit can be too chewy, though, and I didn't want that texture to be a distraction from the fudge. I knew I needed to try to soften and plump the dried apple pieces. Of course, any liquid can be used for this purpose, but to enhance the apple flavor, I soaked them in apple cider. We happen to live right across the river from one of the best cider places I know: Orondo Cider Works. They say their cider is so good, because they use clear water, sunshine and the best apple varieties to produce cider packed with flavor. I can't argue with that! I let the dried apple pieces sit in warm cider (165 degrees) for 15 minutes, and they were just the right texture to add to the fudge.
Once I mixed the apples in with Papa Dave's signature vanilla fudge, and a dash of cinnamon the aroma told me I was on to something. We tried it this morning, and everyone loved it. In fact, it's only been on the shelf for a few hours, and we've already sold through 6 lbs! I'd say I found the right flavor combination!
Of course, anything apple could always be made better with a drizzle of caramel, so that may be coming soon, too! With caramel or without, Papa Dave's Apple Pie Fudge is here to stay!
We consistently hear our customers sing the praises of Papa Dave’s fudge. And we get asked alot, "what's the secret?" The truth is, the "secret" isn't so secret at all...
Papa Dave is Culinary Apple’s resident Fudge Master, a position he's held for last 14 years. In that time, he's made over 43,000 pounds of fudge. Turns out, if you make a few tons of fudge, you get pretty good at it.
Papa Dave: First of all, we use high quality ingredients — I won’t sacrifice taste just to save a couple dollars on a batch of fudge. I use real cream and real butter in every batch of fudge. The real secret, though, is constant stirring, which gives the fudge its creaminess. It’s important to incorporate the sugar fully, otherwise you end up with gritty or grainy fudge, and that is not what people are looking for.
Papa Dave: Zebra fudge is a unique fudge flavor I developed as something of a happy accident. Our Chewy Praline Fudge is a layer of caramel and pecan sandwiched between two layers of vanilla fudge. And our Caramel Chocolate Nut is caramel and peanuts between two layers of dark chocolate. Well, I accidentally added a top layer of dark chocolate to what was supposed to be Chewy Praline. When we went to cut it, we found my mistake. We decided to sell it, and people loved it! We’ve been making it ever since. That is one fudge we cannot keep on the shelf long.
Papa Dave: Chocolate Walnut is our top seller by far. I think people just love traditional fudge. I’ve come to realize that most people have a memory of a special loved one who always made fudge for the holidays, and it was usually chocolate walnut. I think tasting our Chocolate Walnut fudge helps to bring back those special memories.
Papa Dave: Well, when I started making fudge, my first grandson was about two. I was so proud to be a new Papa that it seemed like the right name to give the fudge. My second grandson was born just one year later, and the name stuck. Now, my oldest grandson has come to work with his Grammy and me at the store during his summer vacations.