Salted Chocolate Fudge

Deeply chocolately with a zing salt, this fudge is ridiculously good. So good that it won Honorable Mention in a recent recipe contest. I actually developed the recipe by accident. I was attempting to make a chocolate pot de creme, but when the chocolate cooled, it hardened more than anticipated and become a decadent chocolate fudge instead. No complaints there. Noah, unfortunately (fortunately?) wasn't able to help me polish these off. You see, he hasn't eaten chocolate for almost 20 years. One day when he was 13 or 14 he decided that he was simply going to give up chocolate (!). I have no idea how he 1. has made it that long and 2. didn't sneak a bite while taking these scrumptious pictures. Or maybe he did... I don't know, I wasn't home... Anyway this fudge is good. I savored it as an after lunch treat almost every day at work until it was gone and I'm contemplating making more. Last time I did a touch of cayenne powder, but it would also be good with other spices like cinnamon, chipotle, or ginger. What's your favorite chocolate pairing?     

// Salted Chocolate Fudge // makes enough for 1-20 depending on your affinity for chocolate
I like my chocolate dark, as in 70, 80, or 90% cacao, so this fudge is not for the milk-chocolate lovers. You can try using a lower cacao chocolate (such as 60%) if you want a milder fudge or add another tablespoon or two of sugar to balance out the bitterness. You can also play with some add-ins such as nuts, seeds, spices, etc... to get unique flavor combos. Or not... it's pretty darn good as it is.   

10 ounces 70% chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup half and half or non-dairy creamer
1-2 tablespoons cane sugar, depending on how sweet you want it
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon or less cayenne pepper or other spice for flavoring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder for dusting, optional

1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate over medium heat

2. While the chocolate is melting, pulse the cashews in a food processor or high speed blender until mostly smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Let sit until chocolate is ready 

3. When the chocolate is melted, add the coconut oil and whisk until fully incorporated. Whisk in the half and half (or non-dairy creamer), vanilla extract, cane sugar, salt, and cayenne or other spice. Let cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat.

4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the food processor or high speed blender with the cashews. Process until very smooth, about 4-5 minutes. 

5. Optional: strain the chocolate through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl, stirring continuously to speed up the process. This will result in a smoother fudge

6. Pour the chocolate into ramekins, porcelain cups, or a glass bread loaf pan. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 4 hours. 

7. When chocolate has set, loosen the edges of the chocolate by running a butter knife along the edges. Invert the ramekins or baking dish to dislodge the fudge. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces and dust with cocoa powder