Fudge shops are not usually indicators of a rich culinary scene. I associate fudge with tourist-filled fair-weather vacation spots from Monterrey to Saugatuck to Ogunquit. The fudge in any of these shops inexplicably looks the same, thus undermining my faith in the product. It is sometimes sold alongside all forms of gummy/sour candies and ice cream that is crystallizing before your very eyes. Though I frequently enter these shops, they do have their charms and usually are well-air conditioned, I rarely eat anything.
This buttermilk and pecan fudge was just unusual enough to tempt me into making it. It is unlike any fudge I have ever tasted, it is tangy and bright from the buttermilk. That tang helps fight the rich sweetness of the candy. Well-toasted pecans and some flaky salt round out the flavor. It’s delicious, and surprisingly easy on the arms. Unlike some recipes that have you stirring the cooked fudge for 20 minutes while you exhaust all of the muscles in your arms, you pour this into the bowl of your stand mixer and let it do the work for you. The finished product is also quite good looking, and keeps well for a week or so.
Buttermilk Pecan Fudge (recipe by Alison Roman for Bon Appetit)
- 1 cup pecans
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang on the long sides; set aside.
Toast pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and slightly darkened in color, 8–10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
Heat the sugar, buttermilk, butter, honey, and kosher salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until butter and sugar are melted, about 3 minutes. Fit saucepan with a candy thermometer, bring mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thermometer registers 238° (mixture will be pale golden and smell faintly of toffee), 6–8 minutes.
Immediately (and carefully!) pour the mixture into a medium bowl and, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat until cool and thickened (it will be stiff and matte), 5–8 minutes. Fold in pecans. Scrape fudge into prepared pan; smooth top and sprinkle with sea salt. Let sit at least 1 hour before cutting into pieces.