It’s that time of year when we all see red: Valentine’s Day, the one day of the year formally set aside to celebrate love. I am finally one of the lucky ones, living with Lord D, my loving and devoted husband. Not to take our love for granted, we strive to make every day Valentine’s Day with kind, sweet guestures…often involving food!
It is no wonder that we are both drawn to the love stories in Downton Abbey. At Downton you will find all variations: love is lost, found, taken for granted, and unrequited. It is innocent, calculated, pre-destined, mislaid, loyal, unrepentant. You get your money’s worth on this show!
As a foodie, my thoughts are never far from food, particularly with Valentine’s Day less than a week away. As an amateur chocolatier, ’tis the season to explore all things chocolate. So it is no surprise that I have been thinking about period appropriate sweets which might best reflect our favorite Downton Abbey couples.
The Simple Sweet Innocence of Daisy and William
Finding a way to store milk for long periods without refrigeration was the need which condensed milk resolved. Initially produced in France in the 1820s, American Gail Borden more famously took up the challenge in the 1850s. After witnessing several childhood deaths due to improper milk storage on a voyage back from England, he persevered over a number of years to produce a usable milk derivative that was long-lasting and needed no refrigeration. Because of its long shelf life it was highly valued in times of war. WWI housewives were encouraged to buy and send cans of condensed milk to the soldiers at the front.
About Peanut Butter
We have had peanut paste for centuries, but it was a Canadian (not American) who obtained a patent for the modern method of processing peanut butter in 1884. By the end of WWI, the production of peanut butter was in high gear in the US, so it is possible that Mrs. Patmore might have had access to a jar or two. Again, this was a product which had a long shelf life, which did make its way into military ration packs in WWII.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
Prepare 8 x 10 pan by greasing slightly and lining with wax paper.
When fudge has set, this makes it easier to remove it from the pan by simply lifting out the wax paper. Alternatively use a silicon pan (pictured) which requires no preparation.
- 15 ounces dark chopped dark chocolate*
- 1 can of condensed milk (I use non fat)
Melt together the dark chocolate and condensed milk together. I am not a fan of the microwave so use the stove. Chocolate burns easily so use a double boiler, or place a metal bowl on top of a pot of water heating on the stove.
Pour into prepared pan and refrigerate until set (an hour or so).
- 15 ounces white Merkens chocolate*
- ¾ to 1 cup peanut butter…smooth or crunchy depending on the texture you wish to achieve.
Melt the chocolate and peanut butter together on the stove in the same manner as the dark chocolate. Pour on top of the bottom layer.
Time to Decorate
Before you let the top layer set, decorate for the occasion. You can melt a little melted red chocolate and drizzle or pipe little hearts if you are a whiz at decoration. You can also use red sprinkles, dragees, jimmies, or tiny little hearts. They will sink in a bit into the surface but will hold on tight when it sets. It will add an additional bit of texture to your treat.
Enjoy this fudge any time of year. Just change the topping to match the holiday.
This is pretty rich so I tend to cut into1 inch squares and present in little foil or paper cups used to serve truffles or chocolates. The recipe goes along way and will provide lots of gifts to family and friends.
*You don’t need to use quality chocolate for this dish. You can use baking chips you would use for cookies. I use Merkens chocolate are wafers/disks used by candy makers and sold in craft stores which sell cake and chocolate making supplies.