Mushroom Praline Fudge (PMA 2017)

Makes 80

2 oz. shiitake mushrooms, ¼ inch diced and sautéed in 1.5 oz. butter and  2 oz. dark brown sugar
8 oz. pecan pieces, roasted
10.5 oz. sugar
11 oz. dark brown sugar
8 oz. cream
1.5 oz. corn syrup
4 oz. butter
.33 oz. vanilla extract

Roast pecan pieces at 375°F for 4-5 minutes. Sauté mushrooms in butter for 1 minute and then add brown sugar and sauté another 2-3 minutes until sugar begins to caramelize.

Prepare a 9×9 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the brown and granulated sugars, the cream, and the corn syrup over medium heat. Stir until the sugars dissolve, insert a candy thermometer, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Allow the mixture to boil, stirring frequently, until it reaches 238°F on the candy thermometer. Once at 238°F, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, and vanilla extract, mushrooms and pecans.

Begin to stir the fudge vigorously with a wooden spoon. This is called “beating” the fudge and it helps the sugar crystallize properly and produce fudge’s signature texture.

Stir constantly until the fudge loses its shine and holds its shape. It is done when it comes together and forms a ball on the bottom of the saucepan. The beating process should take about 10-15 minutes.

Once the fudge holds its shape, pour it into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Refrigerate the fudge to set it, for at least 1 hour.

Once set, remove the fudge from the pan using the foil as handles. Cut the fudge into small 1-inch pieces to serve.