Do you like playing games? Do you enjoy cooking? Do you like to occasionally have more than just soda pop and potato chips as snacks for game night? In this Monday blog series, game industry personalities will be sharing some of their favorite recipes for game night munchies. Welcome to Gaming Gastronomy! This week our fantastic fudge is offered to us by Andy Looney of Looney Labs.
Andy Looney is best known as the designer of Fluxx (and its many versions). He also designed Pyramid Arcade (and more than 25 games for the pyramids), Chrononauts, Loonacy, Aquarius, Just Desserts, and many others. Before starting Looney Labs with his wife Kristin, they worked together at NASA. He blogs occasionally at wunderland.com, and does a weekly podcast with Keith Baker called the Download. Andy loves chocolate, his favorite city is Amsterdam, and his alter ego is the Emperor of the Universe.
Game Night Fudge
I love dessert, chocolate in particular, as you can tell by looking at my game about sweets called Just Desserts, and the importance I place on Chocolate in Fluxx.
When I was growing up, I always wanted more candy than I could get my mom to buy me, but I discovered I could satisfy my sweet tooth by learning to cook desserts, since that became a teachable moment and my mom was all about those. And the recipe I learned as I kid is still my favorite thing to cook and consume.
For 25 years I’ve been hosting a weekly gaming night, and 10 or 15 years ago I added to this tradition by cooking up a pan of homemade fudge every week. I like to cook this during the first half hour of game night, getting started on the fudge at basically the same time as I open the house to guests. This tends to be a rather awkward time of the gathering, when folks are just starting to arrive and people are waiting to see who else will be there before settling in on a game to play. It’s a time of standing around chatting. So I’ve found this to be a great time for me to be busy with something in the kitchen which fills the house with a yummy smell and anchors me in a spot where early-arrivers can talk to me while I cook. And when it’s done, those who hung around with me while I cook get to scrape the pan.
Here’s the recipe as I transcribed it from my mom’s recipe card in the early 1970s:
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
- 1 scant cup milk (1 cup less 1 tablespoon)
- butter the size of an egg
- pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine sugar, chocolate, milk, salt and butter and bring to a boil. Boil hard for 4 minutes after it comes to a boil. Start counting as soon as the whole surface of the fudge is boiling furiously. Beat all the time. Remove from fire, add vanilla and continue beating until smooth and heavy. Pour into buttered pan to cool.
Some years ago, I posted this on my own website (http://www.wunderland.com/WTS/Andy/CookingWithMe/fudge.html) and I added these additional notes of advice:
- Be sure to use a metal saucepan. I always have, and so I’ve never had a problem, but I’ve heard of others having trouble with this recipe, who traced the problem to a glass saucepan.
- Keep a close eye on the heat. You want it on medium-high. If you’ve got the heat too low, the final product will be too soft, and if the heat is too high, it may boil over.
- This fudge is officially known as Four-Minute Fudge, because of the 4 minute cooking interval. However, I’ve found this to be a little short… I usually let it go for 5 or even 6 minutes, until the surface bubbles start getting really big, like the boiling surface of lava in a volcano. (The official test of whether it’s cooked enough is the dreaded “soft-ball” test, in which you drop a little fudge into a glass of water, to see if it forms into a sphere at the bottom… but I stopped messing about with all that when I was still a kid. If in doubt, just cook it a little longer.)
- Stir, stir, stir! The most important step is the stirring, which introduces air bubbles into the fudge as it cools. You’ve got to stir, and stir constantly, until just before the fudge hardens up in the pan. Be sure to get the pan(s) you’re going to pour the fudge into greased up in advance, then just keep stirring until it’s on the verge of solidifying. My mom always said you’ve got to stir it until it “loses its shine,” but I never really understood that test, and developed my own instead. It’s called “Making Trees”. For this test, you need to be stirring with a slotted spoon. Raise up a spoonful of fudge, and as it drips down through the slots of the spoon, watch as it hits the surface of the fudge below. If the fudge piles up like little evergreen trees, it’s time to pour. If not, keep stirring.
In the coming weeks, check back here on Mondays for more delectable recipes from personalities around the game industry.