The delicious smoothness of fudge is owed to an accident!
You may not have thought about it before but as your taste buds savor the soft, rich, denseness or the chewy, chocolaty goodness of your favorite fudge, you're bound to wonder whoever came up with the recipe for this delightful treat.
And why only fudge? The sight, aroma, and taste of all those holiday treats make many wonder about their history. So, continue reading to know what tasty accident or culinary intent led to the first batch of your favorite holiday goodies.
Everyone's favorite- The inimitable fudge: While the exact history of fudge is foggy, legend has it that the rich, gooey confection was actually the result of a botched-up batch of caramel that turned out soft, crumbly, and creamy instead of chewy.
In fact, many believe that's how the delightful treat earned its name fudge, because the verb meant, "to put things together clumsily". While the delectable candy got its start in a confectionary shop in Baltimore, MD in 1886, it captured the taste buds of just about everybody in 1888 when Emelyn Battersby Hartridge, a student of New York's Vassar College whipped up 30 pounds of the decadent stuff for the senior auction.
More students followed her lead, turning fudge-making into something of a college fad. As the luscious candy gathered a stellar fan following among the young and old alike, profiteers joined the bandwagon, making and selling fudge in innumerable flavors like peanut butter, raspberry, cherry, butter pecan, and others. But, to this day, chocolate fudge remains the hot favorite.
The surprising thing is that the fudge capital of the world isn't Baltimore but the historic Mackinac Island in Michigan, where a shop has been serving the delicious treat since 1887.
The legendary treat- The fruit cake: This holiday treat can be traced back all the way to Roman times. Think of it this way- Julius Caesar possibly munched on this goodie that you are enjoying today, albeit a slightly different version of it.
Back then, the cake was prized for its shelf life and the nutrition it offered in all its portability. The recipe, at the time, included pine nuts, pomegranate arils, and barley mash. As centuries passed, flour replaced barley mash and sugar found a place in the recipe along with exotic dried fruits and nuts.
The final result is the fruit cake as we know it today- Sweet, delicious, and dense!
Alcohol was a Victorian addition to the recipe, one which simply enhanced its decadence and possibly led to it being outlawed in Europe for being too extravagant. But, by the late 18th century it was a popular tea-time favorite in England, hence the lawmakers, who were also possibly fruit cake eaters, had to repeal the ban.
The very festive and always fun- Gingerbread: Although gingerroot the main flavoring used in the ever-popular dessert was a staple in Asia, it somehow made its way into an early version of the confection in Greece, around 2400 BCE.
As it went through centuries and cultures the recipe changed several times till it evolved into the gingerbread as we know it today, flavored with ginger and sweetened with honey and molasses.
Around the 15th century, it became common to whip up the dessert in a variety of shapes such as trees, animals, and armor. In fact, maidens often gifted gingerbread shaped in the form of armor to their favorite knights as a good luck charm.
As the cake made its way to Germany, it became common practice to make small decorative houses with it. There continues to be some debate on whether these tiny houses inspired the legend of the house made of treats that Hansel and Gretel chanced upon or if the cake houses were inspired by the fairy tale.
Soon enough the recipe reached England, where it was made in the form of a cookie and Queen Elizabeth I came up with the idea of decorating the treats to add a tad bit of elegance to them.
The sweetness of stripes- Candy cane: What Christmas décor can be complete without a few of these? But, did you know that the striped confection was once just plain white? Yes, there were no red stripes and what's worse, it was just a straight sugary stick, so not even really a cane.
But, that was a good 350 years ago. Then, a creative choirmaster in Germany came up with the idea of decking up the candy sticks. In fact, he also bent the stick to give it the characteristic "cane- shape" that we all know and love today. The creative shape and coloring were included in the making of the confection to turn it into the right fit for children participating in the nativity scene.
Around the 19th century, the striped treats found their way into American culture. What worked in their favor was the ample access to refined sugar which brought the bright white to the mix and the development of food dyes that offered the striking red for the stripes. And that's how we ended up with the candy canes as we know and love them today.
There you have it folks, the history and the culinary journey of four holiday treats that hold so many childhood memories for almost all of us and hence continue to be everybody's favourite festive goodies. After all that, of course, you are pining for some delicious, smooth, rich, and creamy fudge in your favorite flavor!