Like many others, my favorite time of year is autumn, with its fall flavors, cozy sweaters and the start of the holidays. At my family’s small business, Shaws Candy in San Francisco, the fall feeling is captured by seasonal treats of all kinds: spooky Halloween candies, caramel apples, caramel praline and espresso toffee ice cream and our fall best seller: pumpkin spice fudge.
Fudge originated as an American classic during the late 1800s because of its ease and affordability. Recipes have been passed down through generations, and fudge has become especially renowned in areas of the U.S. South and Midwest, such as in Mackinac Island, Michigan — the home state of my mother, Diana. The nostalgia of fresh fudge and ice cream cones is what initially drove her to opening Shaws and reviving a favorite local spot for San Francisco families.
At Shaws, we make our fudge fresh in-house every week with an industrial fudge kettle that creates the silky smooth texture that everybody loves. Although fudge is easy to make at home, on a professional level, every measurement must be accurate and each step must be precisely executed. First, sugar must be heated to the soft-ball stage, at 235 to 240 F, to prevent the crystallization of the sugar molecules and ensure a creamy, not grainy, texture. To test if your sugar has reached the soft-ball stage, drop some of the sugar mixture into cold water. If the result is a soft, malleable ball, you’ve successfully hit the mark. If your sugar syrup dissolves in water or forms a hard ball, you’ve under — or over — cooked your sugar. Next, our fudge base, butter, cream and any flavorings are added to the kettle and churned for multiple hours. Finally, any additions such as nuts or cookie bites are mixed in. We then pour the fudge into trays and decorate it with caramel swirl, chocolate drizzle or other toppings. We allow the fudge to rest for 24 hours before slicing and serving.
There’s nothing that screams “fall” more than melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin spice fudge. A single bite delivers the warmth and spice of pumpkin pie and evokes the elation of gatherings with friends and family. You may not own an industrial fudge kettle — no worries! Here’s how to easily recreate pumpkin fudge at home:
- 1 cup white chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 ¼ tablespoons pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Line an 8-by-8-inch or 9-by-9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. At Shaws, we cut diagonal lines into the corners of each sheet to fully line the pan.
- Heat the white chocolate, butterscotch chips and sweetened condensed milk in a pot on low until melted and fully combined.
- Mix in pumpkin puree, vanilla, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
- Pour the mixture into the pan and let cool at room temperature for 24 hours or in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.
- Optional: Melt extra white chocolate to create an artful drizzle on top!
I hope you enjoy this autumn recipe for pumpkin spice fudge and give it a try on your own! And if you’re ever in San Francisco, be sure to pay a visit to Shaws Candy at 122 West Portal Ave. For more updates and the full fall menu, check out shawscandy.com.
A version of this article appeared on p. 12 of the October 27, 2022 version of the Daily Nexus