Fudge maker’s skills wow friends PDF Print E-mail
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor   
Tuesday, 03 December 2013 10:28
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Jim Leimgruber displays a selection of his root beer, pumpkin and chocolate cinnamon fudges, just in time for the holidays. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
WESTON - Jim Leimgruber is no stranger to candy-making.
In fact, unlike most of us who are proud of ourselves if we can produce a batch of candy or two around the holidays, he keeps it up nine months of the year.
"I haven't found a candy formula that I haven't tried yet," he said. "If I find one I'll vary it to make it my own. Peanut brittle, brickle, and basically anything you can think of."
The list starts and ends with fudge.
But not prosaic chocolate fudge. He's got more varieties in his repertoire than the fudge vendor at the Wood County Fair.
"Maple fudge, chocolate cinnamon, pumpkin molasses, root beer" are just a few of his specialized flavors, 18 at last count.
"My own favorite is a white chocolate with cherries and pineapple. That's also somebody else's favorite too. She's waiting for me to make it again."
Leimgruber says he started with a recipe in a very old Christmas cookbook, probably dating from the 1950s, that had a Christmas fudge in it. "That's the one with the cherries and the pineapple in it. It has some name like Heavenly Delight."
While he's willing to use other people's recipes, Leimgruber also enjoys being creative.
"I like looking through cookbooks" for ideas. "I have actually made fudge from cookie recipes. Christmas cookies make good fudge; I've used gingerbread man cookies and also a ginger molasses cookie - turned into fudge."
His pumpkin molasses fudge recipe - a huge hit from Halloween right through Thanksgiving and into Christmas, is one of the three that he's sharing with Cook's Corner readers.
"I created it especially for this one young lady. I found the pumpkin fudge recipe somewhere and I varied the recipe for her. She's a molasses freak. She loved the gingerbread (fudge) so I knew she'd really love this."
Leimgruber, now a Weston resident, is Wood County born and bred. He lived in Portage in high school and then served in the U.S. Air Force from 1974 to 1982, seeing duty in Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Virginia and overseas in England.
"My family has a history of having people in the military since the Civil War. My son's stationed down in Virginia in the Navy now. I have a lot of friends down there and I make fudge for my grandchildren" as well. The three youngsters range in age from 5 to 11.
"The kids have fun eating it" and they're not picky about the choice of flavor.
It was Leimgruber's own mother, Joyce Drain, "who taught me how to make fudge when I was a kid."
These days, "I make fudge from probably about September until May. I make it about every week."
Now a printer at Century Marketing Group, Leimgruber often cooks a batch for his co-workers, his family, or the people in his Life group at Brookside Church.
"When I started taking fudge to Life groups a few years ago, every time I made a new fudge" his mother would have to try it - "even though she had diabetes."
In recent years Drain lived with Leimgruber, who's a bachelor, "and I cooked for her, because she couldn't. So I learned how to cook for people with diabetes."
She died earlier this year.
"Most of my friends don't like fudge with nuts in it, and they like a softer, smoother fudge" of the type he's sharing in the Cook's Corner.
"These are what I could call a very creamy, smooth fudge. But I do make a hard fudge as well."
His flavored fudges are unique for how immediately people can identify what the flavor is.
"Using white chocolate morsels is the secret if you want certain flavors to come out," he explained. "If you use dark chocolate it will dominate and the other flavors won't come out as well."
It also matters when the specialized flavors are added during the cooking process.
"For the chocolate cinnamon, the cinnamon is added in with the sugars; root beer, it is added after it is already cooked.
"For the pumpkin molasses there's a couple different pumpkin spices and they go right in with the sugars."
The temperature outdoors or inside the house doesn't matter, when it comes to fudge-making.
"Matter of fact I've got my house set to 65 degrees. What does matter is that you get the fudge brought up to the right temperature. When it says to 240 degrees you better get it up to 240, otherwise it won't harden properly."
Leimgruber insists fudge-making is easy.
"I've taught my daughter-in-law how to make fudge and I have a couple other people I want to teach. One asked me the other day if I would."
Start to finish, a single batch takes an hour and 15 minutes. "Then you have to let it cool about 2 hours before you can cover, put it in the refrigerator and let it set.
"I think with most people they don't want to take the time to make their own fudge. But to me, making fudge is an act of love."

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Maple fudge
4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup maple syrup
1 5-oz. can evaporated milk
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 pkg. white chocolate morsels
1 large jar marshmallow cream
1 teaspoon maple flavor (optional)

Line or prep 13-by-9 baking pan.
Combine sugar, syrup, milk and butter in saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer reads 235-240 degrees.
Quickly stir in chocolate morsels and marshmallow cream until thoroughly blended.
Pour mixture into baking pan.
Let cool, cover and refrigerate.

Root beer fudge
4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup Karo clear corn syrup
1 5-oz. can evaporated milk
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 pkg. white chocolate morsels
1 large jar marshmallow cream
1 fluid ounce Root Beer Concentrate (McCormick brand)

Line or prep 13-by-9 baking pan.
Combine sugar, syrup, milk and butter in saucepan.
Bring to full boil, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer reads 235-240 degrees.
Quickly stir in chocolate morsels, marshmallow cream and root beer flavor until thoroughly blended.
Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Let cool, cover and refrigerate.

Pumpkin molasses fudge
3 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup pumpkin pie filling
1 5-oz. can evaporated milk
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 pkg. white chocolate morsels
1 large jar marshmallow cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)

Line or prep 13-by-9 baking pan.
Combine sugar, molasses, pumpkin, butter, milk and spice in saucepan.
Bring to full boil, stirring constantly until candy thermometer reaches 235-240 degrees.
Quickly stir in morsels and marshmallow cream.
Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Let cool, then cover and refrigerate.
 

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