By Blake Silberberg ‘13
Among the multitude of snacks and sweets offered at the Common Market, one of the more popular treats is the homemade fudge. But do you know where the fudge is made, or by whom?
Meet Kiara Medina ‘15 and Jessica Brogdon ‘16, the current University of Rochester Candy Engineers. The Candy Engineer position is passed down from year to year, with only two being active at a time. Medina, a junior business major, was an employee at the Common Market before she expressed interest in taking over the fudge position from a graduating senior. Brogdon, a sophomore epidemiology major, was hired specifically for the position, based on her previous restaurant experience.
As Candy Engineers, Medina and Brogdon are solely responsible for making the homemade fudge sold at the Common Market, a process that usually involves meeting to cook about once a week, although that can change quickly depending on demand for the fudge. Medina and Brogdon are also in charge of creating the fudge flavors, a process relying on creativity almost as much as their cooking skills. The first part of the fudge making process is where Medina and Brogdon brainstorm the flavors of the week, planning out combinations of different candies, toppings, and sauces. Conceived sometimes in advance, sometimes spontaneously, Medina and Brogdon are masters of flavor combination.
During their tenure as Candy Engineers, Medina and Brogdon consider their most successful flavor to be Cookies and Cream, which combines vanilla fudge, crushed Oreos, and Hershey’s Cookies and Cream candy. Fluffernutter and Rocky Road, however, are not far behind. The least popular flavor? Surprisingly, maple. During my visit to the kitchen, the engineers had decided on three unique flavors using a vanilla base: dark chocolate fudge with Reese’s Cups, raspberry jam with Rolos, and vanilla fudge with Fluff, chocolate covered peanuts, and chocolate chips.
Medina and Brogdon’s lab is a small kitchen across the hall from the Common Market, where their massive fudge making machine, known affectionately as “Bertha”, resides. Medina and Brogdon first choose the “base” of their fudge, either vanilla or chocolate. Then, they use Bertha to slowly mix and melt the base into warm, gooey, molten fudge. While the fudge base is in the machine, Medina and Brogdon lay out their toppings in the fudge pan, reserving some to top the fudge with as well. When the molten fudge mixture is smooth, the engineers pour it over the toppings, mixing with a rubber spatula to combine the ingredients, creating swirls in the fudge as the toppings combine with the base. Medina and Brogdon then arrange the remaining ingredients on top of the fudge, layering the surface with candy or sprinkling crushed candy on top. “We try to focus on both presentation and experimentation,” says Medina.
So next time you stop by the Common Market for a snack, be sure to pick up some in-house, student engineered Fudge!