Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Passion for Fudge

My interview with Fudge Fatale maker Alexander Black is up at Sugar Savvy.

Click on over to the link to see why Fudge Fatale is a whole different kettle of fudge. For more on the ultra-premium, 100 percent natural chocolate candy, check out the website.

Update: Sugar Savvy is long gone (sigh).  Thanks to the wonderful Wayback Machine and it's archives - here is a link to that post through its web archives. There are addiitonal photos there as well.

Here is the text:

Alexander Black is a passionate man who believes deeply in what he is doing for a living and thinks you should feel the same way. The fact that his business is making truly remarkable artisan chocolate fudge makes it easier to share his passion.

I met Black, founder of Fudge Fatale, at the recent Fancy Foods Show in San Francisco. I got to taste his fudge and I was impressed. The fudge was dark, creamy and smooth and left a lingering chocolate note on the tongue. This was a whole different kettle of fudge.

Black is intense and when he starts talking about fudge, he just bombards you with facts ranging from chocolate fudge's start as a college girls' treat to how fudge became popularized to his adversion toward using emulsifiers and fillers in fudge. He is totally focused on you and on making sure you understand why his fudge is so special, the history of fudge and how much fudge has changed his life. I thought I knew fudge, but talking to him in person and later in a phone interview, my whole fudge perspective has changed.

Black began making fudge more than 30 years ago in his mother's farm kitchen when he stumbled upon the superiority of �cooked� chocolate. He was a self-described "meddler" who liked to play around with chocolate in the kitchen. He was about 11 when he discovered that the changes in texture and taste when he heated chocolate long and hot resulted in what he now calls a "caramelization" that creates a superior fudge. He grew up to become a Hollywood cinematographer but found he was spending most of his free time making fudge for his show biz friends and acquaintances. In 1998 he began Fudge Fatale.

"Fudge Fatale is like a combination of all the chocolate desserts I love -- brownies, truffles and flourless chocolate cake. It is the mother of all chocolates," he says. His ultra-premium fudge is 100 percent natural and does not contain any thickeners or fillers (such as marshmallow cream) that a lot of commercial and home recipes use to make the fudge set up. Instead Fudge Fatale chefs cook a mixture of European unsweetened chocolate (Black preferred not to specify exactly which ones, one of the only parts of his fudge making he keeps in the dark), evaporated milk, butter, sugar and corn syrup. They heat this mix to the soft ball stage of candy making, about 230 degrees.

"You cook the chocolate to the dangerous stage, which gets it to solidify (without the additives)," Black says.  "First and foremost you are cooking the chocolate -- caramelizing it. You are getting a flavor out of the chocolate you otherwise wouldn't get. The moment you take it off the flame you capture whatever flavor exists at that time," Black says, adding that also means if the chocolate is overcooked or burnt tasting, the whole batch has to be thrown away.

"We don't do anything that makes it any easier," he says proudly. "We make what fudge was about 50 years ago. Now they (some other commercial candy makers) make fudge without cooking to a softball stage to cut corners. That's the reason why they use fillers."

Fudge Fatale is made in relatively small batches and no more than 18 pounds of the cooked chocolate is poured out and cooled at a time. Each batch is made by one person from start to finish: combining ingredients, stirring in the cauldron with a wooden paddle, pouring the hot mixture into a cooling frame and slicing the cooled fudge into small one-inch squares. Each batch is tasted for quality and consistency. Every rich-tasting, .75-ounce square is wrapped in gold foil and boxed. Last year Fudge Fatale produced 80 tons of fudge, Black says.

Black focuses on making fudge in the flavor profile he feels he does best  -- chocolate. Fudge Fatale is available in chocolate, chocolate with walnuts, chocolate espresso and chocolate peanut butter. That's it. And if you have tasted Fudge Fatale, you'll know that that's enough.

Fudge Fatale is available in gourmet and other stores throughout the U.S. and through the Fudge Fatale website.

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