Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, September 19, 2009

As with every fudge shop I visited in Nashville the Sunday before Labor Day, I got only ¼ pound of the chocolate varieties at Schwab’s, which is located a bit out of the way in town in Calvin Place — this photo should help you find it. I did this for two reasons. First, because I am sampling these to reveal them to you all, Sisters and Brothers, I do not require much of each variety. Second, each store generally sold them in ½ pound sections but were willing to go to ¼ pound; smaller amounts would be difficult for them to cut and sell, so I was happy. Also, the stores priced things by the pound, so this way I was able to get four flavors for the price of one pound.

Mr. Schwab — that’s him in the photo — was kind enough to give The Chocolate Cult five chocolate flavors to try in ¼ pound servings. These he packed in a box, individually wrapped in plastic, inside a bag along with napkins and a plastic knife. Fudge is thick, and you can’t readily break it into pieces, so a knife is necessary. If it melts, then you’ve let it get too warm. Fudge is usually best at room temperature, though you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for months.

In this next photo you can see that they use marble countertops to pour out, cool, and then cut the fudge. Marble is ideal for this because of its coolness and low-stick surface. An aunt of mine had one marble counter right in her kitchen because she was known for her homemade candies, and I’d love to have one marble section in a future kitchen myself for this very reason.

If you’ve never had fudge before, it’s hard to describe the scent, but I will try. In chocolate fudge you should be able to smell the cocoa but also the sugar and butter, and these should blend together if it’s well made. All of the fudge from Schwab’s has this overall essence, plus hints of their individual flavors, though I don’t think I could identify them merely by smell. Fudge should also have a firm but soft texture when you touch it and never be waxy if it is high quality. Again all of the flavors from Schwab’s meet these criteria.

The day I visited they were making their “Jack Daniel’s Fudge,” which has nuts in it as you can see. Mr. Schwab packed this separately from the others so that the alcohol wouldn’t affect the other flavors. That, of course, made me very curious. Given that making fudge involves heating the mixture first, it is not hot enough to cook out most of the alcohol? Was I also going to get an alcohol buzz from this piece?

There is no alcoholic burn in my mouth when I take a bite, so that tells me that a lot of the alcohol has indeed cooked out. However, the flavor is certainly there, along with the walnut pieces, chocolate, butter, and sugars. Letting a bite melt in my mouth allows more of the cocoa out but also the whiskey flavor, which overwhelms the other flavors and definitely results in a bit of an alcoholic buzz. This is not for kids, Sisters and Brothers. For adults who like whiskey this may do the trick on several levels, so eat it slowly, or you may get more of a buzz than you expect. One of my friends who loves whiskey agreed this tastes exactly like Jack Daniel's and concurs with my advice to you about eating it. I have to let some time pass to cleanse my palate before trying the next piece.

The “Rocky Road Fudge” piece is darker in color and has visible walnuts and marshmallows in it, as you can see in the photograph, Sisters and Brothers. It has a sweeter smell than the “Jack Daniel’s” did; I take a deep whiff of it. I cut off a corner and chew it; the cocoa is much more intense, as is a sugary marshmallow taste, even in a bite that did not have an obvious piece in it. The nuts are good and crunchy throughout. I purposely take a piece with marshmallow in it, and indeed there the sugar borders on overwhelming the chocolate, but overall it mixes fairly well. Letting a bite melt in my mouth increases the bitterness of the chocolate and allows a very slight cocoa buzz. This fudge lives up to its name, so if you like Rocky Road, you will like this.

Another darker fudge is the “Chocolate Walnut Fudge,” which has visible nuts in it, as you can see in my photograph. When I take a deep sniff of this fudge I am surprised to find it very dark and earthy smelling. I take a bite and find that it is indeed a darker chocolate and the nuts are slightly different tasting — perhaps black walnuts, which I think have an earthier flavor. Getting a piece without the nuts is nearly impossible since they are mixed thoroughly throughout. Letting a bite melt increases the dark cocoa flavor and buzz greatly. I really, really liked this variety, Sisters and Brothers.

The two remaining pieces are nut-free and almost identical. One does have a slight peanut scent to it, so it must be the “Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge.” That essence is released more when I cut a bite off, so my suspicions are confirmed. The bite melts easily in my mouth but not on my fingers, and the peanut flavor is very strong and pure, with no additional sugars or salts, really, beyond what you’d expect in chocolate fudge. Every time I cut another bite, more of the peanut fragrance is released, so that is pretty neat and an experience you won’t have unless you focus on the fudge and fully engage your senses with each bite. When you take the time to do that, then this variety is wonderful, if not as chocolaty as we’d like in The Chocolate Cult.

Finally the last variety is simply “Chocolate Fudge.” It might be odd that I worked backwards from more complicated to more simple flavors this Saturday, but I wanted to change things up a bit, and since I drink water and wait between samples, I think each type gets a fair revelation to you all, Sisters and Brothers. This fudge has a simple, slight cocoa scent to it, unmasked by anything else. What is disappointing is that the principal flavor is sugar, really, followed by a very creamy chocolate taste that increases when I let a bite melt in my mouth. This is more for milk chocolate lovers, and any rushing sensation there may be registers as more sugar than cocoa for me.

Schwab’s primarily makes fudge, but they also had chocolate dipped strawberries the day I visited. Unfortunately, any type of fresh fruit candy must be eaten very quickly and does not travel very well so I didn’t get any. Perhaps when The Chocolate Cult participates in the Chocolate Walk sponsored by the Humane Society of Brown County, they will have some other treats for us to try.

Schwab’s Fudge does not have a website. You can write to them at PO Box 464, Nashville, IN, 47448, call them at (812) 988-6723, or email them at RSCHWAB38@gmail.com, as well as find them on Facebook.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

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