FUDGE MAKING LESSONS
How to make Fudge... The Skaarup Way (like anyone cares...)
This is a basic candy making lesson by example (in nine parts).
The worlds most popular fudge recipe is used as the basis for
discussing the factors that make fudge work and what will make it
• EXAMPLE RECIPE
You know the pattern. You might have even experienced it yourself:
You decide to make fudge.
Despite the nay sayers, despite your own better judgment, you
decide to make fudge. You recall the fudge your Grandmother used
to make and you get that silly smile. “It’s going to be great!” you
You get the recipe, make a list, and head to the store to spend
about $8-$15. The kitchen gets messier than you imagined but
everything seems to go well until the fudge is poured. Then it
happens. The doubts. The self-effacing statements. The dread of
wonder, “…will it set?”
The goofy smile is gone, replaced by a disbelieving scowl. “I’ll just
refrigerate it,” you think. Yeah, that’ll do it. It’s firm now and you cut a
piece. Tastes good, must be okay. You take it from the refrigerator
and set it on the counter. Ten minutes pass when you notice that
there’s not longer any open slot where you used to be able to see
the bottom of the pan as the fluid fudge has filled in the empty
space. You try to recall if anyone saw you make the fudge thinking it’
s not a “fudge failure” if no one knows about. But YOU know about
it. That tree in the woods has fallen - a no one around to hear it - but
You heard it. Your brow beads with sweat. You suddenly
experience a respect for your Grandmother that you never had
before, and you wonder... Why is fudge so hard to make?
Consider some definitions before we tackle this problem...
Failure of the fudge to set. The objective standard by which
failure is measured is this: after the fudge has cooled a
small square is cut from one corner. If after an hour the
remaining fudge has shifted into the missing square area
then the fudge is considered a ‘failure.’ Typically this is the
time the stories begin... What went wrong? What could I do
differently? Did anyone see me make this stuff? Who can I
Fudge is meant to be sent to friends and relatives. Sure, you
make some for yourself, but really you should spread the
love around and get the fudge out to others. This means
using the US Postal Service. Fluid Fudge will make a mess
of any package in which you sent it.
Failure of the fudge to set and you try to mask the problem
by putting in the refrigerator (or freezer) in a futile attempt to
fix it. It gets firm enough to cut when cool but then begins to
resemble a squashed bug as it warms to room
temperature. This is typically (but not exclusively) the result
of way too much butter, too high a water content, or the
substitution of an inferior margarine for superior butter.
A fudge disaster is not the same as a fudge failure... it's
something much worse. Fudge Disaster is a fudge which
should never have been made in the first place. These
disasters come in three (3) grades.
Grade I: Fudge which tastes bad but dosen’t set.
Grade II: Fudge which tastes bad but does set.
Grade III: Fudge which tastes bad, sets, and was sent out
by the US Postal Service to a valued friend or relative.
Fudge which doesn’t set is unlikely to be given away so it
poses little risk. Fudge which sets is at risk of being sent
out but if you taste it (be honest now) you’d never send it out.
Bad tasting fudge which sets and is sent out can be a time
bomb. Words of Wisdom: Regardless of the time, expense,
or good intent - DON’T send out bad fudge. You will regret it.
(And don’t feed it to the dog, it’s not good for them. Cats won’
t eat fudge which gives me even more reason to wonder
about the loyalty of cats.)
False (fake) Fudge. Also called “Pseudo-Fudge” or “No-Fail
Fudge” or “Fail-Proof Fudge.” Also called “Frosting” or
“melted Chocolate Chips.” These are confections (and
some of them okay) which are not true fudges. A Fudge, by
definition, requires a sugar, a liquid, and a flavoring. I could
butter a Hershey bar and sprinkle sugar on it. Would that
make it a fudge? No. The broader definition requires the Big
Three components, but also requires a boil, the creation of
a ‘set-able’ sugar slurry, and separate flavor base. Most of
what passes for Fudge is either a Frosting, a Fondant, or a
Flavor Base (like Chocolate Chips) with nuts.
Never Fail Again: Do you want to make fudge that will set every
time? This web site is dedicated to the fudge making novice and
those purists who love fudge and the inner peace of watching a
batch set into robustly fudgey squares. You’ll find out why your last
batch never fully set and what can be done to prevent it in the future.
Read on brave warrior.
DEDICATED TO TP SKAARUP AND HIS RECIPES
A Simple (Faulted) Recipe - Fantasy Fudge
3/4 cup Butter or Margarine
3 cups Sugar
2/3 cup Evaporated Milk
12 oz Chocolate Chips
7 oz Marshmallow creme
1 cup Walnuts (chopped)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Lightly grease or butter a 13 x 9 inch pan and set aside. Mix butters,
sugar, and milk into a 3 quart saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring
constantly. Continue to boil for 5 full minutes on medium heat or
until the candy thermometer reaches 234°F. Remove from heat and
stir in chocolate chips until melted. Add remaining ingredients and
mix well. Pour into the prepared pan. Cool at room temperature.
NOTE: Do NOT substitute Sweetened Condensed Milk for the
This very popular recipe called Fantasy Fudge and is available
everywhere. Backs of Chocolate Chip packages, evaporated milk
cans, condensed milk cans (but they caution the use of evaporated
milk), marshmallow bag & marshmallow creme jars, cook books,
the internet... I mean everywhere. Only a few problems: This recipe
has a 50% failure rate. So I’d like to take you on a Fudge Journey of
how to make this recipe better.
WARNING: This recipe is presented here as an example how NOT
to do it. Please read the following sections and my final analysis as
to how this recipe should be carried out.
Ready to enter my own personal “Heart of Darkness?” My own
legacy of fudge failure and recovery? If you’re ready then I’m ready...
NEXT - FUDGE PREPARATION
THESE FUDGE LESSONS
If Fudge Failure has never happened to you then consider yourself
lucky. If you’re a microwave fudge maker and have “never had a
batch fail” then you’re either not making enough fudge -or- you’re
making something other than fudge -or- you’re putting the runny
failure into the refrigerator and living in denial. [Side Note: “fudge”
also means to falsify, as in, “fudge the numbers.” When people tell
you they’ve never had a batch fail... they’re probably fudging.]
People who live at sea level and in dry climates or more likely to
have their fudge set firmly by random dumb luck than those who
live at high altitudes or in humid environments. Why is it harder to
make fudge in Atlanta, GA, than in the Mojave, CA? There’s a good
reason. My hope is that by the end of these lessons that you’ll be
able to create a luxurious fudge which sets as your cast (pour) it
and ready to serve in hours sans refrigeration.
This lesson in Fudge is given as a tutorial/critique using a popular
fudge recipe, Fantasy Fudge. I use this mental construct (sugars,
flavors, helpers) to give order to the fudge making process and the
things which can go wrong. We’ll go one step at a time and tease
out many of the important factors which can make the fudge fly or
This recipe can fail even if carried out exactly as the directions
Any Fudge consists of three basic components:
A mixture of milk, sugar, and butter. This combination is FLAVOR BASE
typically brought to a boil and held there for 5-11 minutes.
The purpose of boiling is not to dissolve the sugar but to
reduce the amount of water and supersaturate the sugar
Typically chocolates of different sorts. Since the Sugar HELPERS
Slurry contains milk(s) it will convert a semi-sweet
chocolate base to a more milk-chocolate flavor. Similarly, a
milk-chocolate base (i.e., Hershey’s milk-chocolate chips)
as a base will result in a very milky-chocolate mix. Flavors
other than chocolate (e.g., vanilla chips, butterscotch chips)
can be used. Some flavors were just never meant to be
(more on that later). Essential Flavors/Oils such as Vanilla,
Mint, Lemon, Orange, Almond, Cherry, and Rum are minor
flavoring agents and they act as accents to the major flavor
base. If no major flavoring agents are used (i.e. no chips,
no chocolates) then you’re left with a fudgey Sugar Slurry
known as Opera Fudge.
Additives to the final mixture which add texture, character, or
additional flavor to the fudge. Common helpers include
walnuts, almonds, raisins, cherries, orange peel (aka
orange zest), and pecans.
Only the first two are actually required to create a fudge although as
you gain experience you’ll want to start using Helpers to give your
fudge that distinctive character. Most of the most memorable
fudges I’ve ever made were simple fudge bases with a creative mix