Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sugar Zombie

I was out in the blogiverse reading this post from the David Lebovitz blog last month when I stopped to laugh over the author’s response to some sublime apricot bars he had sampled: “I’m sure they thought I was some sort of sugar-zombie the way I attacked it.” “OMG!” I thought. “Sugar zombie. This time of year that is soooo me. LOL!” I loved the thought of us enthusiastic holiday munchers roaming around half comatose, half hyped-up on a sucrose jag, moaning for “Suuuggaarrr! Suuuggarrr!” I don’t know about you, but holiday sweets get me through the winter.

I try to stay out of the brightly colored candy aisles at the stores and keep as many of my treats homemade as I can. They’re not any healthier, for the most part, but at least I put the effort and love into them before devouring them (or sharing them) and moving on to the next victim. Recently, I got around to updating a recipe I tried years ago for a butterscotch fudge flavored with butterscotch chips, pumpkin and spices. I remembered it as being super sweet and just too big of a batch, even for this sugar zombie, so I set about to make half a batch with possibly a little more flavor.

I know I shouldn’t do this, but I changed several variables at once when tackling this adaptation. I halved the recipe, substituted brown sugar for some of the white sugar, and added cream cheese to provide some tang to counteract the sweetness. It occurred to me that this could be a complete disaster, but I proceeded anyway. Luckily the recipe came out quite well with the texture of the fudge not suffering from my additions and substitutions and the flavor improving the way I had hoped. There’s nothing like successfully changing a candy recipe to make you feel like you know what you are doing.

Actually, this recipe is based on the nearly foolproof fudge recipes that contain marshmallow crème, which is sort of the cream of mushroom soup of the candy recipe world. Stir in the marshmallow cream and the texture of your fudge will be just right without much fuss or delicate procedures. I think I may have proved with this recipe, that marshmallow crème can make up for a serious deficiency of expertise. I do, however, have to apologize for one thing. The recipe below will leave you with half a can of evaporated milk, half a jar of marshmallow crème, and a little less than half a package of butterscotch morsels. We’re just going to have to find something else to do with them.

This fudge is indeed quite sweet, but the other flavors are really wonderful. The pumpkin and some of the spice and sweetness are at the forefront, then the butterscotch comes in. Finally, the spices push through at the end and echo in your mouth even after the fudge is gone. Sweet and sugary, yes, it is, but the other flavors are strong and interesting enough to create at least a more sophisticated sugar zombie.

All you chocolate zombies, however, are just going to have to find a different recipe.

Butterscotch Pumpkin Fudge
Based on a recipe from

You can replace the spices with 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice if desired.

I used an 8”x8” pan, which resulted in thin pieces of fudge. Use a smaller pan for thicker chunks.

1 cup white granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter
1/3 cup evaporated milk
¼ cup pumpkin puree (or other sweet squash puree)
2 tablespoons cream cheese (regular or reduced fat)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
6 ounces butterscotch morsels (such as Nestle brand)
3 ½ ounces marshmallow crème

1. Spray an 8” x 8” (or slightly smaller) baking dish or casserole with nonstick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the white sugar, brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and pumpkin. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and submerge it into the boiling mixture without touching the side or bottom of the pan.

3. Cook the mixture on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the thermometer reads 234 F, about 10-15 minutes. (The temperature is far more important than the time.)

4. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream cheese until completely incorporated. Use caution as the mixture may bubble and splatter and is very hot.

Stir in the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and butterscotch morsels. Keep stirring until the morsels are completely melted and the mixture is smooth. If the mixture cools too much to melt the morsels, put the pan over very low heat to help them melt. Stir in the marshmallow cream until smooth.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.

Let stand at room temperature until completely cooled. Cut into squares and store in an air-tight container with layers separated by wax or parchment paper, preferably in the refrigerator. It will keep for several days.

Other recipes like this one: Bittersweet Almond Amaretto Truffles, Grandmama’s Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

One year ago: Gingerbread Granola


  1. "substituted brown sugar for some of the white sugar" Why would you do this? Sounds like a good idea, but why? I would love to know. Think I can do this with cookie recipes?

  2. I added brown sugar to this recipe to give it some more flavor. I was hoping the molasses in the brown sugar would add some caramel notes to the fudge that would work well with the pumpkin and butterscotch, and I think it did.

    This would probably work with many, if not most cookie recipes. Brown sugar will make them a little softer and add some molasses/caramel flavor. I would try substituting for some rather than all of the white sugar in a recipe until I knew how the recipe was going to behave with the change. I recently substituted some brown sugar into a basic sugar cookie recipe, and it worked very well with some subtle differences in flavor that I liked a lot.

    Some recipes might not be able to handle the extra moisture that brown sugar provides. Something like peanut brittle or hard candy probably requires the straight sugar.