I'm pretty excited about this one. In part, I'm excited to tell you about those deep red walnuts studding this fudge. But I'm also just really excited about the fudge, because it's better than I ever dreamed it would be.
Until now, I had avoided making a Paleo version of traditional fudge because I had such low hopes for it. It's been years since I've had the real-deal, which made it even worse: my mind has only taken that rich, buttery bite we all know as fudge and lofted it up even higher than it was. In my head, fudge was no longer just smooth--it was velvety, substantial but somehow light, disappearing as it slowly met the temperature of the human body. Instead, I dilly-dallied around the idea, making "coconut squares" (coconut butter hardened into a bite-sized cube), and finally curating a recipe for Pumpkin Spice "Fudge" that was a little bit like a pumpkin-spice truffle.
Then these showed up in my mailbox:
Ruby-colored walnuts. These particular walnuts were sent to me from the Sanguinetti Farm, a 40-acre family-owned walnut farm in the heart of the world's walnut capitol, Linden, California. A cross between Persian and English Walnuts, Sanguinetti's nuts are sweet than most walnuts in the store. In fact, that bitter forefront flavor that most walnuts boast is hard to trace in these nuts. Instead, they're slightly sweet and rich.
Upon opening the bag, I immediately got this image in my head of walnut-studded fudge. You know: thick, dark, rich fudge with contrasting chunks of walnut that cut through the fudgey-sweetness, only making the fudge, well, fudgier. So I had to do it, what I had been avoiding: make a Paleo fudge that didn't let me down.
The moment I tasted this fudge, I was a little girl again. I was on a road trip with my dad, stopping in Leadville at the wooden Fudge Shack that really wasn't a fudge store at all (more like a convenience store, but the line of people was there for the fudge). That velvety, buttery, rich texture I had lofted so high in my head? It did exist in a real-food paleo version. And just like the real deal, this fudge had that substantially rich chocolate quality about it that make me want to melt. And those deep red walnuts bejewel this fudge in just the right way--classic, homey, and decadent.
Yields: 64 1-inch pieces | Total Time:
- 1 cup coconut butter (manna, not oil), melted
- 1/2 cup coconut cream (to get coconut cream, place an unopened can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours. Open the can, and scoop off the white fatty part on the top)
- 1/2 cup whole deglet noor dates
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 cup cocoa (use a cocoa which has flavor you love—something rich, and dark- the flavor of the cocoa is very noticeable in this recipe)
- 1 1/2 cups red walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the walnuts in an even layer on a cookie sheet. Toast the walnuts for 15-20 minutes or until golden and aromatic. Stir occasionally. Once toasted, remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Place the dates in the water in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Cook until they are quite soft (5-10 minutes)
- Strain the dates, and place them in a blender. Blend on high until a thick date-paste forms. Add the coconut cream, and blend again.
- Scoop date-coconut mixture into a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir in the melted coconut butter and oil. Stir in the cocoa powder until fully combined. You should have an even paste in your bowl. Fold one cup of the walnuts into the mixture, and stir until evenly distributed, then use a spatula to scoop the fudge into a 9 x 9 pyrex dish. Arrange the remaining walnuts over the top of the fudge, gently pressing them in (I like to do this in a grid pattern so that when I cut the fudge, each one has a walnut in the center).
- Cover the pyrex with plastic wrap or lid and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour, of until the fudge is set all the way through. Use a very sharp knife to cut into squares.