Secrets to Successful Fudge | RICARDO (2024)

For many, homemade fudge and the holidays go hand-in-hand. Even if each family has its own recipe, making fudge isn’t always easy. So we've put together a comprehensive guide for you with proven, science-based tips and tricks for successful fudge, every time!

Fudge basics

Ingredients

“Real” fudge is nothing more than white sugar, brown sugar and, you guessed it, cream. A bit of vanilla or maple extract for flavour, nuts if you desire, and you have that sweetest of sweet treats found in so many Canadian homes. Other ingredients can be added depending on the recipe you’re working with: icing sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, evaporated milk, marshmallows. Ricardo even adds white chocolate.

Desired texture

What do you look for in a piece of fudge? It should hold together well without being too hard and, above all, has to be melty and silky in your mouth. It’s the size of sugar crystals that makes the knees of fudge lovers buckle…the smaller the crystals, the less they are perceived on the tongue and the more the fudge tastes smooth and creamy. Cooking, and beating after cooking, is the key to successful fudge.

Cooking

Cooking is necessary to dissolve sugar crystals and to evaporate part of the water in the cream. The length of this step has a direct impact on the firmness of the fudge. As water gradually evaporates, sugar is concentrated and the temperature of the mixture rises above 100°C (212°F). If there is too much evaporation, when the cooking time is too long, there will not be enough water left in the fudge and it will be too hard. Conversely, if the cooking time is too brief and there is not enough evaporation, too much water will remain and the fudge will be too soft. A temperature of 112°C to 114°C (234°F to 237°F) must be maintained. This will ensure the fudge has the ideal concentration of water and sugar.

Candy Thermometer

Fudge is difficult to make. Don’t rely on recipes that tell you to boil the fudge mixture for a specific amount of time. There are too many unknowns to set an exact time. Cooking time depends on the size of your pan—the bigger it is, the more evaporation will occur—plus the heat intensity or power level of your microwave. The best way to check if it’s done is to measure with a candy thermometer or do a cold water test.

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Silicone Thermometer Spatula

Valuable tips for successful fudge

1. Don’t stir during cooking

Fudge can be cooked on the stove or in the microwave. The advantage of using a microwave is that the mixture will not stick to the bottom of the pan during cooking. In both cases, sugar and cream must be brought to a boil by gently stirring, then—and this is very important—refrain from stirring again throughout the rest of the cooking process. Sugar crystallization causes a chain reaction: If a crystal is present in the mixture, other sugar molecules will attach to it and the mixture may seize and become grainy.

2. Avoid crystallization

During cooking, sugar crystals can stick to the sides of the pan. If you stir the mixture, these crystals could fall in and crystallize a part of the sugar again. To work around this issue and dissolve all crystal traces, brush the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in water at the beginning of the cooking process.

3. Let cool before beating

After being cooked, the sugar must crystallize again to create fudge. This stage will determine the size of the sugar crystals. The sugar should ideally form small crystals that are barely discernible on the tongue. To achieve this, let the mixture cool for 15 minutes before beating it. It will thicken as it cools, so when you beat the mixture, sugar molecules will have a tough time clinging to one another (it’s like trying to swim in molasses!). The result: crystals that form will stay small. Experience has shown that you should beat the mixture when its temperature ranges from 43°C to 45°C (110°F to 113°F), which normally occurs 15 minutes after the pan is removed from heat. The fudge is warm, but not burning hot.

4. Beat the mixture

After letting the fudge cool, it’s time to beat it. It is important to stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to thicken and its surface starts to look dull or matte. Now is the time to stop beating and pour the fudge into a mould. Another tip: Do not scrape the sides of the pan or the spoon used for stirring. They are often covered with a grainier layer of fudge.

In Summary

  • • Use a heavy pan that distributes heat well or the mixture may stick during cooking. This advice does not apply if you are making fudge in the microwave.
  • • Brush the sides of the pan with a wet brush at the beginning of cooking to dissolve sugar crystals stuck to the sides.
  • • Never stir the mixture during cooking or sugar could crystallize again. The mixture may seize and become grainy.
  • • Use a candy thermometer or conduct a cold water test to check if the fudge is done. Do not rely on the cooking time indicated in your recipe. The fudge is ready when a candy thermometer reads between 112°C to 114°C (234°F to 237°F) or the mixture forms a soft ball in cold water.
  • • Let the mixture cool before beating. The temperature at this point should be 43°C to 45°C (110°F to 113°F). The fudge should be warm but not burning hot.
  • • Stop beating when the surface of the mixture starts to look dull or matte. Pour immediately into a mould that has been buttered or lined with parchment paper and let cool completely.

The cold water test

Even without a candy thermometer, you can still check if the fudge is cooked by doing a cold water test. Drop a piece of hot fudge into a glass filled with ice water. It should form a soft ball that can easily flatten between your fingers. Repeat this test every two minutes, each time using a clean spoon, until the fudge has the desired consistency.

Ready to make some fudge? Here are a few recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth:

Maple Fudge

Maple Syrup Fudge

The best

Maple Fudge (The Best)

ALLERGY-FRIENDLY

Dairy-Free and Nut-Free Sugar Fudge

GOURMET GIFTS

Creamy Fudge with Peanuts

Secrets to Successful Fudge | RICARDO (2024)

FAQs

What is the secret to perfect fudge? ›

You have to control two temperatures to make successful fudge: the cooking temperature AND the temperature at which the mixture cools before stirring to make it crystallize. Confectionery experiments have shown that the ideal cooking temperature for fudge is around 114 to 115 °C (237 to 239 °F).

What is the secret to smooth fudge that is not gritty? ›

Once a seed crystal forms, it grows bigger and bigger as the fudge cools. A lot of big crystals in fudge makes it grainy. By letting the fudge cool without stirring, you avoid creating seed crystals.

How do you make fudge firmer? ›

The amount of time you cook fudge directly affects its firmness. Too little time and the water won't evaporate, causing the fudge to be soft. Conversely, cook it too long and fudge won't contain enough water, making it hard with a dry, crumbly texture.

Why did my fudge fail? ›

If your fudge is tough, hard, or grainy, then you may have made one of several mistakes: You may have overcooked it, beaten it too long, or neglected to cool it to the proper temperature.

What not to do when making fudge? ›

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid for Candy Shop-Worthy Fudge and Caramels
  1. Using the Wrong Pan. All candy and confections start by melting sugar. ...
  2. Stirring the Sugar. ...
  3. Not Using a Candy Thermometer. ...
  4. Leaving Out the Parchment Paper Lining. ...
  5. Skipping the Cooking Spray. ...
  6. Scraping the Pot. ...
  7. Using a Cold Knife to Slice.
Dec 16, 2015

Should you stir fudge while it's cooking? ›

Brush the sides of the pan with a wet brush at the beginning of cooking to dissolve sugar crystals stuck to the sides. Never stir the mixture during cooking or sugar could crystallize again.

How long do you boil fudge to get to soft ball stage? ›

How long does it take to make fudge:
  1. about 18 min to reach boiling.
  2. about 40 minutes to reach soft ball stage.
  3. 60 minutes to cool.
  4. 28 minutes to beat in a KitchenAid (your time for this may vary)
  5. 4 hours to set.

How to keep fudge creamy? ›

Smooth, creamy, and decadent fudge relies on proper technique, so keep these tips in mind when whipping up your next batch.
  1. Monitor the Temperature with a Candy Thermometer. ...
  2. Avoid Stirring Once the Mixture Comes to a Simmer. ...
  3. Beat Thoroughly.
Mar 8, 2023

Why did my fudge turn out like taffy? ›

If the fudge is very soft and slightly chewy then it is possible that it did not quite cook to soft ball stage and next time the mixture should be cooked to a slightly higher temperature (soft ball is 112-116c/235-240F and a sugar or candy thermometer can help).

What gives fudge its firm texture? ›

The key to creamy, luscious fudge is controlling crystal formation. If the sucrose (table sugar) crystals are small, the fudge will feel creamy and smooth on your tongue. But if the crystals are large, the fudge develops a crumbly, dry, or even coarse texture.

How do you keep homemade fudge soft? ›

Wrap your fudge in an air-tight container. Several layers of saran wrap, vacuum seal, Tupperware should all keep the moisture locked in pretty good. A couple hours before you would like to enjoy your fudge, take it out of the freezer and allow it to thaw out on your counter.

What to do with failed fudge? ›

Good use of failed fudge: fudge that is too hard, too soft, too runny, too sugary, too chewy, etc. Proportions are as follows: for every 2 cups (roughly 1 pound yield) of any failed fudge that is not runny, you'll need 1 egg, ½ cup all-purpose flour, and ½ cup milk. If fudge is soupy, halve the milk (to ¼ cup).

Can you over whisk fudge? ›

If you are using an electric whisk instead of hand beating your Homemade Fudge it's important to remember that this is a very easy way to overbeat Fudge. When Fudge is overbeaten it can also create a grainier texture on the tongue, so be extra careful when using electric equipment to beat your Homemade Fudge!

Why won't my 2 ingredient fudge set? ›

The main reason is that your Fudge has not reached the optimum temperature. If your mixture only reaches 110 or 112 degrees Celsius it will always be soft. That's why we recommend investing in a sugar thermometer. Another reason your Fudge is not setting is that the ratio of liquid to sugar is too high.

What to do if fudge won't thicken? ›

If your fudge is soft or runny, it probably didn't come up to a high enough temperature while it was cooking. Put it back into the saucepan and add 1–2 US tbsp (15–30 ml) of 35% fat whipping cream. Stir the fudge as it heats, but only until the sugar in the chocolate is completely melted again.

What does cream of tartar do in fudge? ›

If you add a teaspoon of Cream of Tartar to fudge this will inhibit the formation of crystals to a degree but please be aware THIS DOES NOT REPLACE THE BEATING PROCESS!

Can you beat fudge in a stand mixer? ›

Pour the mixture over the chocolate, being sure to shake, not scrape, the mixture from the pot. Set aside to cool for 10 to 12 minutes. (This prevents a grainy consistency.) Using the clean wooden spoon or a standing mixer on low speed, stir or beat the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated.

What is the ball method fudge? ›

According to most recipes, the ingredients of fudge are cooked to what is termed in kitchen parlance the soft ball stage, that point between 234 and 240 °F (112 and 115 °C) at which a small ball of the candy dropped in ice water neither disintegrates nor flattens when picked up with the fingers.

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