Fudge and brownies are traditional sweet treats that are as familiar to the American table as knives and forks.
While these two desserts are similar, fudge is technically a candy while brownies are considered baked goods. You should think of fudge as a kind of enhanced chocolate bar, retaining much of the melting and tongue-coating quality of fine chocolate, whilst brownies are essentially miniature cakes.
The differences between fudge and brownies include the use of different ingredients, different textures, different serving contexts, and the very different methods used to make them. Here we explain more!
What is fudge?
Fudge is a candy made from crystallized sugar and can be made in a variety of different flavors. Our personal favorites are recipes that include peanut butter, chocolate and traditional vanilla fudge.
Peanut butter fudge sound good to you? Check out our Old fashioned peanut butter fudge recipe.
It may surprise you to learn that fudge’s closest relative is the humble marshmallow.
Fudge is traditionally made by heating ingredients to the soft ball stage then adding various flavorings. Its ingredients can vary, but generally begin with sugar, milk, butter, cream, and salt before adding flavor.
Although most people think of fudge as chocolate-flavored, that’s not always the case. You can add other ingredients or toppings to a fudge recipe. Common variants include marshmallow, milky way, dried fruit and maple fudge – it’s all just a matter of personal preference.
How is fudge made?
A basic fudge recipe calls for dissolving sugar, butter, and milk, and heating it to the soft ball stage, or a temperature of between 234 and 237 °F/ 112 and 114 °C.
At this point, the mixture is allowed to cool to precisely 109 to 113 °F/ 43 to 45 °C. You have to leave the fudge alone while it cools, or large sugar crystals will form, giving the fudge a grainy texture.
Once the mixture has cooled, some recipes call for other ingredients, like condensed milk, marshmallow creme, or corn syrup. This is meant to smooth the texture and avoid the growth of large sugar crystals.
This final mix is typically poured into a shallow pan, such as a brownie pan, where it’s allowed to cool and set further before being cut into individual squares. Fudge pieces are typically smaller than a brownie serving.
Learn more about what fudge is made of here: What Is Fudge Made Of.
What is a brownie?
Look up any brownie recipe online and you’ll notice that it’s just a cake recipe.
The brownie is a relatively new creation, with recipes first appearing around the turn of the 20th century. Said to be designed as a portable serving of cake for use in boxed lunches and at picnics, the brownie is now a category of dessert all on its own.
Depending on the ingredients used in brownie recipes, brownies can vary in texture and flavor. Some people prefer fudgy brownies with a denser and more chocolate-forward profile. Others like chewy brownies, cakey brownies, or some combination of all three.
You can easily find a recipe for brownies tailored to all different consistency preferences, including those that are a rich flavor and others that are a light texture.
It’s easy to see how different fudge and brownies really are when you look at what goes into brownies:
• Cocoa powder
• Vanilla extract
• Baking powder
While fudge uses mainly wet ingredients, brownie adds flour and baking powder to the mix. This is why the textures of the two treats are so different.
Brownie recipes tend to stipulate what texture they produce, and often offer suggestions on how to alter the recipe to feel lighter or produce different textures such as fudgy and chewy brownies. They can also include extra ingredients in the brownie batter such as nuts.
How are brownies made?
Making brownies is easy enough – simple combine all ingredients and spread into a greased pan before baking. Temperature and time will vary depending on the cake like texture you’re looking for.
The combination of melted butter and sugar, eggs, and cocoa powder is delicious in any context. Warm and fresh out of the oven, brownies in my opinion are best enjoyed with a cold glass of milk.
Are fudge brownies made with fudge?
Fudge brownies are not made with fudge. Fudge brownies are baked in such a way that a fudge-like texture and flavor emerges. It may be possible to create brownies topped in fudge, but that’s not what’s generally meant by the phrase “fudge brownies.”
If you want to make a fudge that tastes like a brownie, try this recipe: Cocoa Powder Fudge Recipe | Chocolate fudge recipe without sweetened condensed.
How do you get fudgy brownies?
It can be tough to nail the dense, moist, and fudgy texture promised by “fudgy brownies,” because it requires bakers to get a couple of different things just right. Avoiding chewy brownies or cakey brownies means adding a couple of ingredients and treating the batter a little differently.
For starters, combining bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate adds to the dense chocolate flavor typical of a fudgy brownie. Adding an egg yolk to the recipe contributes to the richness of fudge without adding grease to the equation.
Because these additions will add density, you’ll need to beat your batter vigorously, or else you’ll get an uneven or rough texture with your brownies that’s not at all fudgy.
Are fudge brownies supposed to be gooey?
Yes a fudge brownie is supposed to be gooey. If a brownie isn’t gooey, it’s probably better to call it a “chewy brownie” rather than “fudgy.” Chewy brownies generally use more all-purpose flour, while fudgy brownies batter tends to be wetter and denser.
Which is better fudgy or cake brownies?
People have personal preferences when it comes to baked goods, and brownies are no different. Cakey brownies aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, though neither are fudgy. If you’re making your brownies for a specific person, find out their preferences in terms of cakey vs. fudgy before you start baking. I personally prefer a chewy bite – thanks for asking!
Why is my fudge soft?
This type of candy can become soft when you get one of two things wrong. Either the temperature of the mixture fell too far or the fudge mixture was boiled for an inappropriate amount of time.
How do you fix failed fudge?
The proper fix for failed fudge differs depending on what’s gone wrong:
– If your fudge burns, you may be using a pot that’s too thin. Consider a heavy-bottomed stainless pot for use when making fudge to avoid burning.
– If your fudge is super sticky, you probably didn’t get it hot enough. Use a candy thermometer and cook the fudge to a proper temperature (likely 234 and 237 °F/ 112 and 114 °C) to make sure your fudge sets properly.
– If your fudge comes out oily or grainy, it is said to have “separated.” You can scoop it back into the pot with a little less than a cup of water and redissolve over low heat. Note that this may slightly dilute any flavor you’ve added.
Fudge and brownies have a lot in common. They’re both sweet, generally chocolate-flavored, and they’re sold in similar contexts. They’re both endlessly customizable. They often look alike, depending on the ingredients used and the way they’re cut and presented.
But fudge and brownies aren’t all that similar. They use very different ingredients, have vastly-different flavor and texture profiles, and are prepared in totally different ways. You can make fudge-y brownies, though a brownie-like piece of fudge would be a lot more difficult to pull off.
One thing’s for sure – regardless of where you stand in the fudge vs brownie debate, you’ll find the perfect mix of nostalgia and mouth-watering sweetness when you get a pan of brownies or a plate of fudge just right.
Have an appetite for fudge now? Learn more about fudge making here: