This past summer my family traveled up to Northern Michigan for a little family vacation. We knew we would be moving to CA so we wanted to travel to Mackinaw Island and see the Mackinaw bridge. We had great weather and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the island. It’s a beautiful place to visit with Victorian buildings and manicured lawns.
Here I am in front of the Grand Hotel with the kids.
Mackinaw Island is special because you feel like you travel back in time for a bit. There’s no cars allowed on the island so the only way to get there is to travel by ferry. Horse drawn carriages and bikes are the only form of transportation other than your feet once you arrive. 😉 We did bike around the island which is about 8 miles. I thought the hardest part was going to be the exercise but I honestly I never felt any leg burn. Instead, it was the crying coming back from the hurley that became difficult to bare.
The kids started out fine enough and Landen even fell asleep for awhile.
But we made the mistake of stopping to take in the beautiful views. This was when little man woke up and not happily. We thought for sure he would quiet down once we started moving again but instead he just screamed louder. He was so upset that my husband ended up ridding the bike and hurley back to town, while I walked carrying our son back the last mile and a half.
My arms were tired but I can tell you it was a MUCH MORE pleasant walking back than enduring the high pitch screaming.
Although, Northern Michigan is a beautiful place to visit it’s not the greatest place to visit with a dairy and gluten allergy. In fact, it’s awful. Every other corner in Mackinaw is selling fudge and ice cream. Umm, thanks for the great tease. Even my husband who typically has the attitude, “Just tell our daughter no and she’ll get over it” was on the hunt to find an alternative dairy-free snack.
When we visit again, I’ll be prepared but on the spot it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Even the gourmet popcorn was a “no go” as it had dairy, artificial colors and artificial dyes. We finally found a little fudge shop that had a small basket of gourmet allergy friendly cookies. Gluten-free and dairy-free as well as free of nuts, soy, and eggs. SCORE!
At this point, we didn’t even mind paying the $3 for the ridiculously small cookie. We were just thrilled we found something! And so was Emma. 🙂
I will say it was hard to pass by the endless windows of warm chocolate being pressed into fudge. Chocolate was definitely calling my name but I am far enough in my dairy allergy journey not to cave. So we looked but we didn’t touch. 🙂
Fast forward, several months later.
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I stopped on a food video. Don’t you just love food videos. For me they are addicting. I only wish cooking was that clean and fast in real life and once I start watching I have to watch until the end. Well, this video wasn’t any different. I was reeled in and I almost jumped out of chair when I realized they were making homemade fudge.
What?! I NEVER knew you could make fudge. Wasn’t it for the professionals at Mackinaw Island? Temperature, precision, fancy kitchen appliances and an experienced hand is what I thought was needed to make fudge. Turns out you don’t need any of those things.
It tastes like fudge. It feels like fudge. It’s legit!
It’s so easy my husband could make it and the 3 ingredients are easy enough to find too.
Here’s a in-depth look at two of the main ingredients and how you can make sure they are clean.
The key of course, is making sure your chocolate chips are dairy-free if you have a dairy allergy. I love Enjoy Life brand. It’s great texture, taste and they are committed to clean ingredients. You can buy them here.
Their chocolate chips only have 3 ingredients. Here they are: Evaporated Cane Juice, Chocolate liquor and Non-dairy Cocoa butter. Since their ingredients are free of Soy, I’m guessing that the non-dairy cocoa butter is probably coconut based but I’m not positive. I also love that this company is part of the Non-GMO project.
SO, how many ingredients does Hershey Chocolate chips have? 8 ingredients more than double. They are as follows: Milk Chocolate (Sugar, chocolate, nonfat milk, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin, vanillin, and artificial flavor). You can see for yourself here.
I found good and bad research on soy lecithin but since I haven’t researched this very much I’m going to wait to write about it until I have more information. But, I will say that any time my family eats soy I make sure it’s organic since soy is a highly genetically modified food.
Peanut butter is another food I don’t just grab off the shelf. I always, always check the labels of my peanut butter. Why? Because you would think the only ingredients in peanut butter would be peanuts and salt, right? So, why I have seen sugar, egg whites, canola oil, high fructose corn syrup, and wheat germ? Most of the ingredients above aren’t bad in and of themselves and if you were only going to eat peanut butter all day than I guess I would want some egg white and wheat germ thrown into my peanut butter.
But this question running through my head deters me from buying peanut butter that has more than two ingredients. “What did the food company have to do in order to add those ingredients and still have the look and taste of peanut butter?” Heating and stripping are two words that immediately come to my mind. I’m not a peanut manufacturer so I don’t know but if I’m going to add any ingredients into my recipes than I want to be the one adding them.
I want my ingredients to be pure, fresh, and most importantly, I want to know where my ingredients are coming from. I want to know if they are organic, local or have been imported. The more ingredients in play the harder it is for me to control them.
If you have a peanut butter allergy or if your school is a peanut free school, try substituting with the Sneaky Chef. You can find more info here.
2 cups dairy-free chocolate chips or 16 ounces (Enjoy Life Vegan chocolates - Grab two bags)
1 cup non-dairy milk
3/4 cup peanut butter (or sub for another nut butter)
Measure out all of your ingredients and place in a microwave approved bowl. (Best to work with chocolate and peanut butter ingredients at room temperature.)
Microwave for 1 minute. *You just want the ingredients to be warm.
Stir ingredients together. Stirring will continue the process of the chocolate melting. Microwaving the ingredients too long can result in scorching the chocolate which will give your chocolate a burnt taste.
After your ingredients are well mixed, set aside.
Take a sheet of wax paper and place the wax paper in your 8 x 8 pan. Be sure to let some of the wax paper over hang your pan.
Next pour, your fudge mixture into the pan making sure that the fudge reaches all corners of the container. Your fudge should be more of a liquid consistency so don't panic it will harden. 🙂
Next, cover your fudge with a lid or foil and place in the refridge to chill for at least 2 hours before checking. When your fudge is completely hardened it's done.
Lift your fudge out of the container but pulling on the edges of the wax paper. Pull the wax paper off and cut into squares and consume.
Keep fudge stored in your fudge for added freshness. Fudge will keep for 3-4 days.
*My peanut butter and chocolate chips were at room temperature so if you chocolate and peanut butter is not you may need to microwave a bit longer.
So, if you ever find yourself in a little town sight seeing and you see endless rows of gooey rich filled fudge but you have a dairy allergy or sensitivity – don’t feel bad. Feel empowered, knowing you can make your own fudge and enjoy it without any negative side affects.
Let me know what you think. If you give this recipe a try, please let me know by giving the recipe a rating and leaving a comment.