For Successful Fudge Every Time | RICARDO (2024)

Fudge is one of those must-have holiday treats. Everyone has a favourite recipe: Aunt Lucille makes her fudge in the microwave, Grandma adds maple extract and, why not, Ricardo adds white chocolate to his!

Despite every conceivable alternative, the preparation method must pass through the same three unavoidable steps: ingredients are cooked on the stove or in the microwave, cooled and stirred. And, voilà, fudge! Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why does fudge turn out smooth and creamy sometimes, and hard and grainy other times? Follow us to better understand the steps to making perfect fudge.

Cook until the correct temperature

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). The cooking is intended to evaporate a part of the liquid and concentrate the sugar. The temperature of the cream/sugar mixture (called syrup) rises as water evaporates. At a cooking temperature of 114 to 115 °C (237 to 239 °F), there is just enough water left in the syrup to ensure it is not too hard or too soft.

Too cooked

This fudge was cooked to a temperature of 118 °C (244 °F). At this temperature, the sugar is too concentrated and there is not enough water left to form syrup around sugar crystals. The result is hard and brittle fudge. To save the fudge, put it in a saucepan with 45 to 60 ml (3 or 4 tbsp.) of 35% cream and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely melted. Then let it boil without stirring until the thermometer reaches 114 to 115 °C (237 to 239 °F).

Undercooked

This fudge was cooked until the temperature reached only108 °C (226 °F). At this temperature, the sugar is not concentrated enough... 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).

Cool before stirring

After cooking, the mixture must cool before being stirred in order to make it crystallize. This cooling period is essential: this is what determines the size of sugar crystals which, remember, should be as tiny as possible. Ideally, the syrup should cool to a temperature of around 43 to 50 °C (110 to 122 °F).

Beating before cooling

This fudge was beaten immediately after cooking, while it was still very hot. Its crystals are so big that it has practically reverted back to a sugar state! What happened? Beating the syrup caused the formation of crystallization nuclei, anchor points to which sugar molecules attach to form crystals. Few crystallization nuclei will form in syrup that is still hot, and sugar molecules will readily attach to them. The crystals grow so easily, and the result is really grainy fudge. Better to toss it and start all over!

Beating after cooling

This fudge cooled until it reached 43 to 45 °C (109 to 113 °F) before being beaten. It has a smooth and creamy texture, just how we like it. Here's why: syrup becomes quite viscous (thick) while cooling, and this slows the movement of sugar molecules. When you start to beat it, billions of crystallization nuclei suddenly form, but the crystals stay tiny as sugar molecules have a hard time sticking together.

Sugar crystals

Fudge is a crystalline confectionery, due to the fact that it contains sugar crystals. The smaller the crystals, the less we perceive it on the tongue, the smoother and creamier it is in the mouth. As is the case with many sweets, making fudge is all about the details and seemingly simple steps (see "Our tips to making successful fudge"), which have a major impact on the final result. The better you control the size and growth of crystals, the greater the chance the fudge will succeed. And it all begins first and foremost with temperature control.

How to check the temperature?

You should ideally check the temperature with a candy thermometer or probe left in the saucepan throughout cooking. You don't have a thermometer? You can always do the 'cold water test': drop a small amount of hot syrup in a glass of cold water. As it falls to the bottom of the glass, the syrup cools and forms into a ball. Remove the ball from the water and check its consistency with your fingers. For perfect fudge, the syrup should form a soft ball that can be picked up, but easily flattened. If the syrup is undercooked, drops of syrup will sink to the bottom of the glass in threads or simply dissolve. If the syrup is overcooked, the ball will be hard and difficult to flatten with your fingers. Repeat the test every two or three minutes until you obtain the desired consistency. Use a clean spoon every time you scoop up a bit of syrup.

Our tips to making successful fudge

1 › Calibrate your thermometer
To do this, boil water and take its temperature with the thermometer. It should read 100 °C (212 °F). If it doesn't, take the difference into account during cooking.

2 › Make sure sugar crystals are dissolved at the start of the cooking
Start cooking over low heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Don't stir for the rest of the cooking.

3 › Pay attention
The syrup temperature rises slowly at first, but a lot faster after 104 °C (220 °F). Don't get distracted! One or two degrees can make all the difference.

4 › Allow to cool without stirring
The syrup can cool down slowly, by staying in the saucepan at room temperature, or you can speed up the process by putting the saucepan in a sink filled with cold water. Don't use ice water. Syrup at the saucepan's edges will cool too quickly while the centre remains too hot.

5 › When the mixture cools, beat it continually
… until it starts to crystallize. If you beat it by hand with a wooden spoon, crystallization can take between 5 to 15 minutes. The process is much faster with an electric mixer, just 2 to 3 minutes. The mixture is ready to be poured into a pan when it has visibly thickened and lost a bit of its luster.

For Successful Fudge Every Time | 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 key to successful non grainy fudge? ›

While you ultimately want crystals to form, it's important that they don't form too early. The key to successful, nongrainy fudge is in the cooling, not the cooking.

How do you know when fudge is beaten enough? ›

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.

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.

How do you make fudge creamy and not grainy? ›

Grainy Fudge

To avoid this issue, swirl the pan instead of stirring it with a spoon. You can use a wet pastry brush to wipe down any sugar that sticks to the sides of the pot.

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

What to do when fudge won't harden? ›

Temperature Troubles

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 is my 3 ingredient fudge not setting? ›

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.

How do you get fudge to soft-ball stage? ›

Without a candy thermometer, you can achieve this with what is called a “cold water method”. Fill a small glass with ice and cover it with water until it is ice cold.. Drop your hot sugar syrup into the ice water. When it clumps into a soft ball, it is the correct temperature.

Do you stir fudge when it's boiling? ›

Another key part of a successful fudge texture is when you stir the mixture. Stirring the sugar and milk during the initial stages of cooking allows the sugar to dissolve. However, once the mixture comes to a boil, it's time to put the spoon down.

What happens if you over stir fudge? ›

Once the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has come to a boil, do not stir it. If you do, the sugar can crystallize, giving your fudge a gritty texture.

How long do you let fudge cool before beating? ›

Fudge 102 – newb's guide to getting started
  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 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).

Do you refrigerate fudge to harden? ›

Do not freeze the fudge to set it. Best way is to just be patient for a couple hours and set it in the fridge.

Do you stir fudge while it is boiling? ›

Avoid Stirring Once the Mixture Comes to a Simmer

Another key part of a successful fudge texture is when you stir the mixture. Stirring the sugar and milk during the initial stages of cooking allows the sugar to dissolve. However, once the mixture comes to a boil, it's time to put the spoon down.

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!

How to prevent fudge from being grainy? ›

Prevent Graininess Before It Starts

The most common reason for graininess is because you began beating or stirring it while the fudge was still cooling. It's best to wait until it's cooled to somewhere around 110 to 113 degrees to begin stirring.

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.

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