I do not believe there is anything better than chocolate, and fudge from Mackinac Island is some of the best chocolate you can ever have. Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion to make, share, and enjoy this great candy from Up North in Michigan. But first, a little history…
Mackinac Island had been a major fur trading location in the eighteenth century. Fur traders and Indians from the area lived and worked together for decades under both French and English occupations.
Following the decline of fur trading and the fishing industry that had also thrived on the island, Mackinac Island became a popular resort area. At first, the Native Americans of the area provided candy for sale in the tourist shops of the island. The Odawa natives made the candy using maple syrup they had tapped from the many maple trees found in upper Michigan. The candies were delivered to the shops in containers made from birchbark, which the Native Americans called “mokuks”. These candies were also sent outside of the area on ships which traveled through the Great Lakes.
In the late 1800’s, local entrepreneurs decided to make a candy that would be unique to the island, and Mackinac Island fudge became a staple in the tourist shops. Visitors loved the fudge that was made in big copper pots and poured out on big marble slabs. Fudge shops sprang up on the island and still thrive today. Mackinac Island fudge is indeed a treat and one you must have if you visit the island.
In this post, I am including two recipes which I found in a small book I purchased the last time I visited Mackinac Island. The book is titled Mackinac Fudge Recipes. It is distributed by Penrod/Hiawatha of Berrien, MI, and can be obtained from them at http://www.penrodhiawatha.com. The first recipe is for “1890 Basic Fudge”. It is fun to read, though probably not feasible for most home cooks to make. Even though my family loves fudge, I am not sure what we would do with 35 pounds of the sugary confectiion! The second recipe is for “Double Chocolate Fudge”.
1890 Basic Fudge Recipe
Fill a copper kettle with the following ingredients to make a 35 pound loaf of fudge.
- 23 pounds sugar
- 2 1/2 pounds unsweetened chocolate
- 5 quarts half and half
- 3 1/2 pounds corn syrup
- 18 ounces shortening
- 2 tablespoons salt
Cook mixture to 230 degrees and pour onto a marble slab. Let this cool to approximately 96 degrees. Knead with a paddle or your hand for 8 to 10 minutes. The marble slab is useful in regulating the temperature.
Perhaps you will try making some fudge for someone you love for Valentine’s Day. Double Chocolate Fudge is what our nineteen Valentines, living across the country, will be receiving from our house this year!
Double Chocolate Fudge (adapted from a recipe submitted to Mackinac Fudge Recipes by Tiffany Hall-Graham)
- 2 cups (12 ounces ) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 package (11 1/2 ounces) milk chocolate chips
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tablespoons cream or milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Melt the 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips with 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk, 1 tablespoon of milk or cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla over low heat. You will need to tend it and stir constantly. Spread the mixture into a foil lined 9 inch square pan. In another saucepan, melt the milk chocolate chips with the remaining sweetened condensed milk, 1 tablespoon of cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Remove from heat and spread this mixture over the fudge already in the pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips over the top, slightly pressing them into the fudge. Chill for 2 hours or until firm. Remove the foil from the fudge and cut into desired pieces. This will yield about 2 1/2 pounds of fudge.
Fudge is best stored in the refrigerator. Wrap the fudge in waxed paper and then wrap it in aluminum foil. If you wish to keep it for up to 3 months you can store it, wrapped, in the freezer. Remember to always allow the fudge to come to room temperature before cutting it into serving pieces.
You can reach Mackinac Island by ferry from Mackinaw City, in Michigan’s lower peninsula, or from St. Ignace, in the upper peninsula. The ferry companies serving the island include Arnold Transit Company, Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, and Star Line Ferry. No cars are allowed on the island, and once you arrive you can get around on foot, bicycle, or horse drawn carriage. There are several places to rent bicycles, and many opportunities to hire a carriage.
When we visited the island, our family rented bicycles and we pedaled all the way around its perimeter. There were many breathtaking views of Lake Huron, providing us with many excuses to stop, rest and enjoy the sights. Without motor vehicles, the island is quiet and peaceful, encouraging a slower pace.
We stopped to see Arch Rock along the way, one of the most photographed sites on the island. This limestone formation stands 146 feet above the Lake Huron shoreline.
Mackinac Island is also the home of Fort Mackinac, built during the Revolutionary War by the British. The British soldiers stationed at the fort were there to control the strategic Straits of Mackinac, separating Lakes Huron and Michigan. During the War of 1812, the fort became the scene of two battles. This historic site has uniformed guides who lead many activities to help visitors better understand a soldiers life and his work at Fort Mackinac.
At the end of a long day of sight-seeing, shopping, and enjoying Mackinaw Island fudge, there are many great places to eat and just as many places to spend the night before returning to the mainland–and that much busier, hectic life. Enjoy a visit to Mackinac Island. You will want to go back, I promise!