Old-fashioned fudge (without marshmallows!) has a reputation for being finicky and tough. It will quickly tire arms out—my mom even has stories of sharing the efforts of fudge making with her siblings. Making fudge has been a bane in my baking existence for several years. I couldn’t get it to set no matter how cautious I was with measurements and temperature. Through my search for a good recipe, I have found one that has yet to fail me with resolutions to prevent and fix common mistakes.
I have had no problems with the following recipe. The fudge has always turned out completely smooth. I use a hand mixer with no ill effects and it does not get grainy if I overbeat. I was even able to fix it when I didn’t cook it enough due to a candy thermometer that wasn’t calibrated correctly (Correct calibration is essential). Testing for soft ball* stage does work as I have successfully made it this way as well. The most important thing is making sure to watch the fudge and the temperatures throughout the entire cooking process.
Ingredients (Recipe from – Better Homes & Garden: The New Cook Book yr.1965):
- 2 c. sugar
- ¾ c. milk
- 2 1-ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate
- Dash of salt
- 1 tsp. corn syrup**
- 2 Tbps. butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- ½ c. chopped nuts (optional)***
Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture is boiling.
Immediately remove from heat and cool in cold water (no ice) until it reaches 110F. While cooling, add butter on top of mixture—do not stir.
Beat fudge—this will get tiring, so either find a few extra, willing arms; however, I always cheat and use a hand mixer. Once the fudge thickens and loses its gloss, pour into a buttered pan.
- Too thick: If fudge became too thick during beating (Oops! The hand mixer can be overzealous), knead with hands until it softens then press into buttered pan or roll and slice. Optionally, cut cute shapes with cookie cutters!
- Too soft: If it doesn’t set, it was either poured too soon (Tired arms! Give me a break!) or wasn’t cooked enough. Fix by mixing in ¼ c. milk and recooking to 234F or soft ball stage. Cool to 110F. Beat until it loses gloss.
*Testing for Soft Ball Stage
Test for soft ball stage (234F-238F) by dropping mixture into a bowl of cold water (no ice). If ready, mixture will hold shape and can be formed into a soft ball between your fingers.
**Substitute Corn Syrup
If you do not have corn syrup, you may make a substitute sugar syrup by combining:
- 2 c. sugar
- 3/4 c. water
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 pinch salt
Heat until boiling. Lower heat to a simmer and put lid on for 3 minutes to soften any sugar crystals. Cook until it arrives at 234F, or soft ball stage. Syrup will keep for approximately two months. I have tried this and it does work—I never have corn syrup around.