Christmas visits to my aunt’s farmhouse were always a treat. Literally.
There in Aunty Ann’s kitchen with its chartreuse walls, café-style curtains and beadboard cabinetry, I devoured blocks of her homemade fudge, also known as Million Dollar Fudge.
Why Aunty Ann called it that, she never said. Maybe she dreamed of owning a candy store, and hoped the fudge would make her famous. Or it could have been for its amazingly rich taste.
Either way, when I started my own family I couldn’t wait to make the fudge for them for Christmas. There was just one problem: I needed Aunty Ann’s recipe.
I called Mom. She and Aunty Ann were sisters and as close as could be. Surely she’d have it.
“Let me see,” Mom said. It sounded like she was rummaging through some drawers. “You know what? I don’t have it. Let me call Ann for you. She’ll give me the recipe.”
While I waited for Mom to call back, my thoughts drifted… Suddenly I was a wide-eyed 10-year-old looking up at Aunty Ann as she boiled salt, butter, milk and sugar (she was so precise that a cup of sugar was just that and not one grain more), then added it to a bowl with chocolate, marshmallow cream and nuts. Oh, the sweet smell that wafted through the air!
Then she’d stir the mixture and pour it into a pan to set (of course, I’d lick the bowl). A few hours later Aunty would pull a butter knife through the thick fudge and cut it into cubes.
“Only one piece,” she’d say. But how I wanted to sneak a little more.
I looked up to Aunty Ann outside of the kitchen too. She did a lot at church. She had sewn hundreds of quilts for missions and took in family and cared for friends when they needed help.
She really lived out her faith. Aunty Ann was something special, just like her Million Dollar Fudge.
The phone rang. Mom. “Did you get the recipe?” I asked excitedly.
“I sure did!” she said. I jotted down the ingredients and drove right to the grocery store.
Back home, I measured, boiled, mixed and stirred just like Aunty. While the fudge set, I dusted, folded laundry and wrote Christmas cards. Finally, it was time for the taste test.
I put the pan on the kitchen table and cut the first piece to the same dimensions I remembered my aunt using. Well, that’s different, I thought, noticing that it looked more like a slab than a cube.
I took a bite, anticipating the creamy texture that would take me back to my childhood. Hmm. Gritty. Did too much sugar settle into this corner?
I took another bite. It was as bad as the first. This fudge was not at all like Aunty Ann’s. Not even close.
I called Mom right away.
“I must have done something wrong!” I wailed. Mom offered to call Aunty Ann again. “I’ll make sure that we didn’t miss any ingredients.”
The next day Mom got back to me. “Hi, Mary Frances, um…your aunt has confessed something,” she told me.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Well, she admitted that she didn’t share the real recipe with us. She said that she’s keeping it a secret for that candy store she has always dreamed of opening someday.”
“What?” I shouted. My churchgoing, mission-helping, always-honorable Aunty Ann had told a whopper?! Why would she lie to me? My feelings were hurt.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Aunty was just holding tight to her dream. That was definitely no reason for me to hold a fudge grudge.
“But,” Mom continued, interrupting my thoughts, “she’s reconsidered. She’s given me the real recipe to pass on to you…on one condition: You must promise to keep it a secret as long as she’s alive.”
“I promise,” I said. “Her recipe is safe with me.”
I kept that promise for 10 years, until Aunty Ann passed away. I miss her dearly. She never did open that million-dollar candy store, but now I can share her priceless recipe with you all.
And don’t worry, I haven’t fudged it one bit.
Try the recipe for Aunty Ann’s Million Dollar Fudge for yourself!
Download your FREE ebook, True Inspirational Stories: 9 Real Life Stories of Hope & Faith.