Whether you buy gourmet fudge from a fudge shop or create your own homemade fudge, it’s a confection that’s sure to please. There are many ways to make homemade fudge. You can cook it on top of the stove or you can microwave it. There are even no-cook recipes. I’m going to address the old-fashioned stovetop way.

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Vanilla Fudge

Ingredients: 1 large can of evaporated milk. 1 small jar of marshmallow fluff. 4 cups of sugar. 1 cup of chopped nuts. 2 tablespoons of butter. 1 teaspoon of vanilla….

The equipment you’ll need is a 3-quart pot with a lid, a pastry brush, and a wooden spoon.

Place your ingredients into your pot. I like to put the liquid ingredients in first, that way the dry ingredients are less likely to splatter and get sugar crystals on the side of the pan.

On medium heat, using your wooden spoon, stir your mixture until you no longer hear of feeling the sugar crystals – in other words, until it no longer feels gritty.

Using hot water and your pastry brush, wash the crystals down the sides of your pot. Or, you can use some wax paper and your tight-fitting lid to create a seal, and the steam will wash the crystals down the sides.

Once your spoon runs smoothly over the bottom of your pot, place your candy thermometer in the pot. Turn up the heat a little. When your mixture is at a boil, turn the temperature down but still maintain the boil. Continue to cook your batch until it reaches the softball stage (234º F).

I like to use the thermometer as a reference to know where I am in the cooking process. But I rely on the cold water test to determine when the fudge is finished cooking.

The cold water test is when you spoon a little of the mixture out of the pot and let it drip into a cold glass of water (no ice). The drips should form a ball.

Once the fudge has cooked to the proper stage, it will need to cool. One way is to pour it onto a marble slab (a couple of feet wide is more than large enough for home candy making). Do not scrape the pot while pouring or you could your fudge to the grain. You will need to make sure that it is set up with barriers so that it doesn’t ooze off the edge.

For those without marble slabs, you can cool your fudge using a 15×10 jellyroll pan. Put the pan in the fridge before pouring the fudge into it (again, do not scrape the pot while pouring). You don’t want to cool your pan in the freezer because it may cool your fudge too fast and transform it into a caramel-like texture.

You can also carefully place your pot in a sink filled with about 2 inches of cool water – but be sure not to disturb it too much. Now, you’ll want to cool your fudge until it reaches a temperature of 110º F. For those of you who don’t use a candy thermometer this takes about 40 minutes. If you stir your fudge while it is still hot, it will produce a very sugary grainy texture. By waiting until it cools to 110º F, you will produce a much smaller grain giving your fudge a creamy texture.

Once your fudge is cooled, you can start stirring it right in the pot. As you’re stirring, keep an eye on your fudge which will eventually start to candy. That means it begins to start to lose its glossiness, lighten in color and move very sluggishly.

You do not need to stir vigorously. Start out slowly and watch how it reacts to your stirring, then stir a little faster. I do not recommend using a hand mixer. Your fudge will candy too fast and you can ruin the alignment of your mixing beaters. (I learned this the hard way and ruined a hand mixer.)

Once it starts to candy, pour the fudge into a buttered- or wax paper-lined pan. It can be any shape pan you want. Just make sure it is the right size pan for the amount of fudge you are making.

Allow your candy to set up for several hours or overnight. If you want, you can score it at this time so it is easier to cut when it sets up.

Then eat and enjoy!

Here’s the chocolate fudge recipe I typically use:

  • 2 cups of white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp of vanilla

Place all of your ingredients except the vanilla in your pot (3 qt.) and cook on medium-low to medium heat until your butter has melted and you no longer feel or hear the gritty sounds of the sugar.

Turn up the heat just a little until your mixture starts to boil. Turn down your heat but keep the boil.

Cook without stirring until it reaches the soft ball stage (234º F).

Take it off the heat and add the vanilla. Do NOT stir.

Allow the fudge to cool for about 40 minutes or until it reaches 110º F.

Stir the fudge until it starts to candy. Then pour it into a buttered 8 x 8 pan.

This makes approximately 1 lb of fudge.