You can get a head start on a rich holiday with a cheat day.
Thursday is National Eat What You Want Day, and it precedes National Nutty Fudge Day on Friday.
Feel free to combine the two celebrations with traditional nutty fudge or go the extra mile with recipes that incorporate mixed nuts and chocolate.
• 3 tablespoons butter, divided
• 12 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped
• 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
• 1 7-ounce jar marshmallow crème
• 4 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
• 2 cups pecans, chopped
Line a 13-by-9-inch pan with aluminum foil, then spread 1 tablespoon butter on it and set aside.
Break the German chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in a bowl. Add the chocolate chips and marshmallow crème, then set aside.
In a large saucepan, bring the sugar, milk and remaining butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for six minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly pour over the chocolate mixture; stir until mixture is smooth and blended. Stir in the nuts.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and let it sit at room temperature until it cools.
Cut the fudge into 1-inch squares and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Almond vanilla fudge
• 12 ounces white baking chocolate
• 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
• 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped
• Whole almonds
Line an 8-by-8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, with excess extending over the sides. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Melt the baking chocolate as directed on the package.
Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer until it’s smooth. Using low speed, gradually beat in the sugar until it’s well blended. Add the melted chocolate and extract, then mix well.
Stir in the almonds to the mixture.
Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan, then garnish with whole almonds.
Refrigerate the fudge for at least one hour until it firms.
Use the foil to lift the fudge out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut the fudge into squares and store in the refrigerator.
Nutty dark fudge brownies
• 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
• 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter
• 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 3 large eggs
• 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 handful pecan halves, walnut halves and roasted hazelnuts
Spray an 8-by-8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper and lightly spray it, then set it aside.
Place the chocolates and butter in a small heat-proof bowl. Place the bowl over a small pot of simmering water or microwave the mixture at 50 percent in 30-second intervals, stirring until it’s glossy and completely melted. Stir in the cocoa powder.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until it’s thoroughly combined. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
Add the chocolate mixture and stir it to combine.
Add the salt, baking soda and flour and mix it well. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and top the batter with nuts.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until the brownies are slightly puffed, the nuts are golden brown and the top is no longer glossy.
Remove the brownies from the oven and let them cool. Slice and serve.