1½cupscreamy peanut butter (NOT the natural or the natural-no stir varieties)
1tbspwaterfor the 8x8 pan to help keep the parchment paper in place while pouring and smoothing out the fudge.
Red and Green M&M’s(for garnishing the tops of each piece of fudge-optional - the mini's work really well too)
Using the bottom of the 8x8 baking dish as a template, cut out a piece of parchment paper and set aside. (This piece will be used to help smooth the peanut butter fudge, and will stay in place and protect the top of the fudge while it is chilling in the refrigerator.)
Measure out enough parchment paper to hang over the sides of the pan. You will use the overhanging edges to lift the fudge out of the pan.
Pour the tablespoon of water in the bottom of the 8x8 pan, before lining the pan with the parchment paper. The water keeps the paper in place while you are spreading the fudge.
Line the 8x8 prepared pan with the parchment paper.
In a medium-size microwave-safe bowl, add the unsalted butter and the creamy peanut butter. Heat for 60 seconds. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and stir.
Add the 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and stir until the vanilla is incorporated.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, stirring with a large spoon in between adding the powdered sugar. The peanut butter mixture will become stiffer to stir, continue stirring until the powdered sugar is completely combined and no white streaks or lumps are visible.
Pour the fudge mixture into the prepared 8x8 baking dish. Using a spatula to help evenly distribute the fudge in the pan.
Place the pre-measured piece of parchment paper on top of the fudge. Use this to help smooth the top of the fudge. Leave this piece of parchment paper in place, and put the fudge in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours.
At the end of the 2 hours, remove the fudge from the refrigerator. Remove the top piece of parchment. Using a sharp kitchen knife, pre-score the size and number of the serving pieces of fudge, but do not cut the fudge until you remove it from the pan.
Using the over-hang pieces of paper, lift out the fudge, and place it on a cutting board.
Warm a large sharp knife under hot water. Dry the knife and using the pre-measured score marks, slice the pieces of fudge.
Once the pieces are cut, place 2-3 red and green M&M’s on the top of the fudge for decoration.
Store the fudge in an airtight container. If the fudge is stored at room temperature, it will keep 3-4 days. In the refrigerator, it will keep for 1 week. Freeze fudge for up to 3 months.
Storage:Store the fudge in an airtight container. If the fudge is stored at room temperature, it will keep 3-4 days. In the refrigerator, it will keep for 1 week.Fudge can be frozen for 2-3 months. Wrap in plastic wrap and then place in a airtight freezer bag. When ready to eat, defrost in the freezer bag until it reaches room temperature.Tips:
Make sure you sift your powdered sugar before adding it to your hot butter and peanut butter. This ensures that you have a smooth end result with your fudge.
You can substitute different brands of peanut butter in this recipe but remember do NOT use Natural or the Natural No-Stir options. These have different textures, therefore different outcomes, from the recipe as it is written. The brands I have used successfully are as follows:
Peter Pan- This brand is ever so slightly darker in appearance than the other brands and is a little sweeter because it has more sugar in the peanut butter itself than the others.
Skippy- This brand is just a little lighter in color than the Peter Pan.
Reese’s- This brand has a very slight orange hue, but not so much that it is odd, just a little different than the other brands.
JIF- This brand is a little saltier than the others and is the lightest in color overall.
All of these brands, when done as a side-by-side comparison, have been almost identical other than the above-mentioned variances. Unless you have a brand that you love the most, any of these choices will yield great results.
NOTE: the photos show the fudge cut into about 16 pieces - this is for visual purposes only. These would be HUGE pieces of fudge. I normally cut mine into anywhere from 49-64 pieces.