my stepson michael and his wife frances had the good judgment to space their kids a few years and 6 months apart which makes it just perfect for a biannual visit to snohomish washington for each of their birthdays. elyse, who is just turning 6, was born right before christmas, and haley, who will be turning 10 was born in june. this also gives us the chance to experience two different seasons along with seasonal activities in such a beautiful location.this years' christmas visit started off with a request from the kids to make cookies. haley wanted her favorite: chocolate chips without nuts, And elyse wanted to try a chocolate fudge recipe that was in one of her books called "strawberry shortcake." since it was meant for kids to make, i figured it would be quick and easy but when i discovered that we were 1/4 cup short of sweetened condensed milk, i decided to add 2 tablespoons of butter instead. frances told me they all preferred bittersweet chocolate so instead of using 1 cup of semi-sweet chips and 1 cup of milk chips called for in the recipe we used 2 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips. we decided to start off with the chocolate chip cookie batter as it's easier to shape after chilling so while it was chilling we could whip up the fudge. it was great fun for all of us. the kids donned their aprons, chefs hats and potholders i had sent them 2 years ago, got up on their step stools, and were most adept at exchanging turns for every step of the process. i wasn't expecting to like the fudge because i've always found it to be too sweet and grainy but i have to say this fudge recipe, in all its simplicity, was absolutely fabulous. we all loved it so much it will be sure to become part of a family tradition. Butter an 8 x 8 inch pan and line it with a piece of waxed paper In the top of a double boiler, combine 2 cups of chocolate chips, preferably bittersweet, a 12 ounce can (1-1/4 cups) sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract. Set it over simmering water and heat, stirring often, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top so that it is even. Place it in the frig and allow it to chill and set for at least 2 hours. cut the fudge into 1 inch squares and then keep it covered with plastic wrap.
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