Feeding Friendships – Festivals and Peanut Butter Maple Fudge

Feeding Friendships – Festivals and Peanut Butter Maple Fudge

Spring is the perfect time to feed your friendships; the weather is starting to cooperate and towns are waking up from the long, cold winter! Now that it is starting to warm up, festival season is kicking into gear, bringing with it a sense of community and friendship to cities and towns across the country. This week, Sarah Weber is back to share memories of her favorite town festival along with a recipe using a local commodity that is sure to score you some friendship points!

I grew up in Chardon, a small town 35 miles east of Cleveland. I don’t know if it’s a huge thing in places other than the Midwest, but spring is festival season around these parts. Smaller than a county fair, with the same terrifyingly-quickly-assembled rides and street food vendors, these festivals usually celebrate a main commodity of the community with several tents, parades, exhibits, and contests to show off that commodity’s products. Not only do these festivals foster a sense of community, they are a great place to feed friendships.

Chardon is host to the oldest maple festival in the country, and having attended since I was a small child living six houses down from the town square, I can tell you it’s big fun. It’s counted as a point of pride that so many maple trees thrive in the community, and every March brings “Tappin’ Sunday,” a ceremonial tapping of a sugar maple on the square with a golden tap. Ubiquitous sap buckets hang from trees all over for the better part of a month, and a small building on the square known as the Sugar Shack starts throwing large clouds of white steam on Sundays as they prepare to serve up super unique maple stirs.

Friendship

This is maple syrup heated to a magic temperature (about 250°), then poured into a little cardboard bowl. You’re handed what looks like a tongue depressor and told to stir. This is where I learned patience as a child and where many friendships blossomed. You stir the thick syrup until slowly it turns into creamy maple candy, which you scrape out and eat with your stir stick as your spoon.

Needless to say, maple is one of my favorite flavors. Maple icing on eclairs, maple barbeque sauce, maple beer (yup), maple cocktails, real maple syrup on waffles. These are some of my favorite little pleasures in life when it comes to my taste buds. One of these favorite indulgences? Maple fudge. With just four ingredients, you can make a great nutty, maple treat that disappears as if by magic from whatever gathering you bring it to. And what better way to feed your friendships than to offer gifts of delicious fudge?

To prep, line a dish or pan with foil, and spray the foil with cooking spray. I used an 8×8 pan here, and thickness of your finished fudge will depend entirely on pan size. One batch comfortably fills an 8×8 pan. If you want thinner pieces, size up.

Tip number two is to use crunchy peanut butter if you want nuts in your finished fudge. It’s actually a pretty genius move (if I do say so myself) because the peanuts are already cut to a small size, and aren’t dense enough to sink to the bottom of your batter/fudge/icing/whatever you’re peanut buttering. One of my favorite shortcuts.

Ingredients

Friendship

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/8-1/4 cup maple syrup

Combine sugar and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir occasionally until the mixture starts to boil. I used a thin rubber spatula so the sugar mixture wouldn’t stick when it came time for clean-up.

Once you’re boiling, stir constantly for 3 minutes.

FriendshipRemove your saucepan from the heat, turn off your burner, and add your peanut butter and maple syrup. Stir until the peanut butter is fully incorporated and you have a uniformly-colored creamy mixture. I didn’t measure my maple syrup — eyeballing it, I probably added close to ¼ cup in two good-sized pours straight from the bottle.

Friendship

Pour your fudge into your lined pan and pop it in the fridge. You can cut it into squares or slices in approximately 2 hours. I like squares about an inch all around as a bite-sized treat. Wrap individual pieces in wax paper and add to friendship baskets or tins. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Friendship

Is your area also a festival town? Have you had friendships grow from these fun community gatherings? Have you ever had a maple stir? If you’re in the Northeast Ohio area April 23-26, make your way to Chardon and I might see you there!

Printer friendly recipe: Peanut Butter Maple Fudge

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