28 June 2008

Michigan: Mackinac Island fudge

A couple weeks ago the Sunday Pioneer Press travel section ran a story I did on Mackinac Island (http://www.twincities.com/travel/ci_9566606). Although I didn't have the word count to include some info on specific fudge shops on the island, I thought I'd at least mention here my take on fudge in general and Mackinac Island in particular.

First off, before I even talk about the island's sweet shops, it's important to know that I consider my mom's fudge the all time best. I've never tasted fudge like hers in any fudge shops. For that matter, I've never tasted any homemade fudge like hers, period. She made the kind of fudge that was hand-beaten. I can still see her with her well worn wooden spoon and hear the noise it made in the bowl. Before she beat it, she would drop a droplet of the warm chocolate that had been bubbling on the stove for awhile, into a glass of cold water. That was how she could tell the exact time when it was ready to take off the heat and begin the beating.

The result of her chocolate fudge was not a creamy soft light and high confection--it was a dense dark chocolate rich with butter and cream--barely an inch high.

At any rate, I say all this so that you can understand why the fudge I have tasted at many tourist type shops does little for me and why I may taste it, but rarely buy any. It has to be exceptionally good before I'll part with my cash--and I can count on one hand the places I've bought it. One of them just happens to be Jo-Ann's Fudge shop on Mackinac Island. I had read that Murdock's Fudge was the original shop that started selling the sweet, and my driver who took me on a tour of the island recommended May's variation as his all-time favorite. But after tasting Jo-Ann's plain chocolate fudge, I knew I had to buy some for my flight home. It was buttery, rich and creamy, but not cloying sweet. It was definitely still not my mom's but it was still definitely worthy.

For the record, Mackinac Island has an annual Fudge Festival. Check out http://www.mackinacisland.org/fudge.html for more information.

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