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? ›

Valuable tips for successful fudge
  • Don't stir during cooking. Fudge can be cooked on the stove or in the microwave. ...
  • Avoid crystallization. During cooking, sugar crystals can stick to the sides of the pan. ...
  • Let cool before beating. After being cooked, the sugar must crystallize again to create fudge. ...
  • Beat the mixture.

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.

What causes fudge not to get hard? ›

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. Pay attention to the timetable specified in the recipe, and you'll get the hang of it after a batch or two.

How to make fudge more solid? ›

there is too much leftover water in the syrup and the resulting fudge is soft. To save the fudge, put it in a saucepan with 15 to 30 ml (1 or 2 tbsp.) of 35% cream and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely melted. Then let it boil until the thermometer reaches 114 to 115 °C (237 to 239 °F).

Should you stir fudge while it's cooking? ›

Don't stir!

Once the fudge reaches soft-ball stage on the candy thermometer, remove from the heat and let the temperature drop to 110°F. Keep that spoon or spatula out of the pot until this happens. If you stir too early in the process, you'll make the sugar crystals too big and end up with grainy fudge.

What does cream of tartar do in fudge? ›

Cream of tartar is used in caramel sauces and fudge to help prevent the sugar from crystallizing while cooking. It also prevents cooling sugars from forming brittle crystals, this is why it's the secret ingredient in snickerdoodles!

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.

Why is my 3 ingredient fudge not setting? ›

Why won't my 3 ingredient fudge set? This often happens when the condensed milk and chocolate chip mixture isn't hot enough to start. Everything must be completely melted before it is transferred to the pan to cool.

Can you reboil fudge that hasn't set? ›

How can you fix soft fudge? Put it in a microwave safe bowl that is large enough that it won't boil over. Reheat it to the boiling point and cook for about 3 more minutes. Then you can beat some powdered sugar into it if this doesn't make it set.

How to fix failed fudge? ›

Fixing Fudge
  1. Scrape the fudge back into a large saucepan and add 1 1/2 cups of water.
  2. Stir the fudge over low heat until it dissolves. ...
  3. Increase the heat to medium and bring it to a boil, washing down the sides of the pan frequently with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
Jan 5, 2020

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 long does it take fudge to reach 234 degrees? ›

Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, without stirring, until the thermometer registers 234 degrees, about 20 to 25 minutes. The mixture should boil at a moderate, steady rate over the entire surface. While the fudge is cooking, prepare the baking pan.

What is the soft ball test for fudge? ›

The cold-water test for soft ball stage is this: Fill a cup with very cold water. Spoon a small amount of the boiling candy mixture into the cold water. If the syrup forms a soft ball in the water that flattens when removed, it is at soft-ball stage.

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.

Why did my fudge turn out like taffy? ›

If the temperature is too low, the fudge will be too soft and sticky, and if it's too high, it will turn into a hard, crumbly mess. The ideal temperature to cook fudge is between 232-234 degrees F (111-112 degrees C).

Why hasn't my fudge set properly? ›

The most common culprit behind unset fudge is inaccurate temperature control. If the sugar mixture hasn't reached the correct temperature, your fudge won't set. Ensure you use a reliable candy thermometer and follow temperature guidelines meticulously to achieve the desired consistency.

Why won't my 2 ingredient fudge set? ›

Why won't my 2-ingredient fudge set? If your fudge isn't setting, it might be due to underheating the mixture or not chilling it long enough.

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