Welcome to our ultimate guide to fudge making. From the right equipment to a plethora of ingredients, alternatives you can use and the best ways to store and package these sweet treats, we’ll take you through any troubleshooting queries you may have.
What is the secret to making fudge?
A good baker never reveals all of their secrets but we can tell you this – the secret to making good fudge is cooking, beating and cooling fudge at the right temperature.
There are 2 ways to make fudge – either boiling sugar syrup or melting chocolate and condensed milk together. On average most people can end up with crumbly fudge from too high temperature reads or from creating a sticky mess.
Follow these tips below and from one fudge maker to another, we promise that you will be on your way to fudge heaven.
How to cook fudge
Always have the right cooking equipment for making fudge
- Invest in a quality heavy bottom saucepan with tall sides. We recommend either stainless steel or copper pans as they offer an even heat distribution. This makes them perfect for making candy, especially when dealing with high temperatures.
- Long handled wooden spoons or silicone spatulas will become your new best friend when it comes to candy making. These utensils will be a lifesaver in fudge making as they can withstand high temperatures and lessen the chance of you being scolded or burned. Please opt for sturdy and thick utensils as the flimsy ones may break during the fudge beating stage.
- Use a candy thermometer as this will ensure that your fudge mixture reaches the optimum temperature. This is crucial for creating the perfect non-grainy fudge us fudge makers often seek. But remember, always check that your thermometer reads accurately before using. You can do this by boiling water from a kettle and measuring the temperature of the boiled water. Your candy thermometer, when submerged in boiled water, should read 212°F/ 100°C. Read about the candy thermometers we recommend here.
- Make sure you have a silicone pastry brush for brushing down the sides of a pan. A brush dipped in water is a great way of sweeping down sugar from the sides of the pan.
Top tip – Instead of brushing the sides of your saucepan occasionally with water, you can use melted butter instead to prevent the crystallization of sugar.
- Having the right sized fudge pans/baking trays is a time saver, especially when you’re in a hurry moving from stove to pan. Avoid using any pans/trays with a short height as the fudge mixture may bubble over.
- Non- stick pans are a game changer in a bakers world, but for candy making they are even better. Sticky fudge can be a nightmare and the last thing you want after going through all the effort of making the fudge is for it become stuck to the tray. The key here is make sure you have baking parchment, non- stick foil or silicone mats to line the baking trays with.
Remember to line your baking trays
The last thing you want after making the most perfect fudge is to have it stick to the pan! At Call Me Fudge we have tried and tested different ways of lining baking trays for the most effortless lift from pan scenario.
Using non-stick baking trays are your first port of call, which should be complemented by choosing the right material to line the trays with. We’ve tested different types of foil to see which one works best and you can check out our results by clicking here!
Our favourite has to baking parchment as this wax paper makes lifting fudge out a tin so quick and easy. Another trick when lining a baking tray is to use a cooking spray or a non-stick cake spray.
We recommend these items to line your baking trays with:
- Strong aluminum foil
- Non-stick oil spray or melted butter brushed onto the foil
- Baking parchment/waxed paper/ baking paper
How long should you boil fudge for?
Fundamentally, you should boil fudge on a medium heat until a candy thermometer reads the correct temperature for the fudge recipe you are using (this may range from 234 and 237 °F/ 112 and 114 °C).
Or, if its a true homemade fudge, it should reach the soft ball stage ready for the cold water test and for this we recommend 3-5 minutes.
If the thermometer reads higher than the temperature needed, then you will risk sugar crystallization which results in a really crumbly fudge. And trust us, no one wants a grainy fudge!
When should you make fudge?
Avoid making fudge on a day that is humid or rainy. This may sound silly, however the moisture levels in the air can be absorbed into the fudge mixture which causes it to be much softer in texture. When making fudge, we recommend dryer cold days as the mixture is able to set at the right firmness.
When the fudge has reached the desired temperature according to the recipe you are using, let the mixture cool until a slight film has developed on the surface of the fudge. You are now ready to beat the fudge until smooth.
Take the cold water/soft ball test
If you don’t have a candy thermometer – do not panic – they are not the be all to end all of fudge making! And, for some who don’t feel the need to invest in a candy thermometer but have an eye for perfection, you may enjoy partaking in an on point guessing game.
For those who are more risk adverse, then you can use something called the soft ball method in fudge making. This method requires you to place a small drop of fudge after the fudge mixture has boiled for 3-5 minutes into cold water.
By dropping the hot syrup into cold water should see the fudge cool and form into a ball. That’s when you know the fudge has reached the right temperature.
Though this method won’t be as accurate as using a candy thermometer, the cold water will absorb the transfer of heat from the sticky bead, allowing you to be able to press it flat between your fingers.
For a more detailed guide to this, read What Is The ‘Soft Ball Stage’ In Fudge Making? .
How to beat fudge
Knowing how to beat your fudge correctly will ensure that you produce a coarse free fudge that has a creamy consistency.
How to produce the right fudge texture
After you’ve boiled up the mixture to 234 and 237 °F/ 112 and 114 °C, it is important that you let it cool before beating. Ideally you should let the temperature drop to around 109 to 113 °F/ 43 to 45 °C before beating commences.
If your fudge is grainy, this is likely to be because you have overbeaten your fudge and it has had too much time to set as the sugar has been exposed to air.
If your fudge is too hard, then this is likely because your sugar syrup was boiled to a high temperature beyond what the recipe called for. A candy mixture such for hard-boiled candies are usually heated up to high temperatures to get that sharp crunch that these traditional sweet candies are renowned for.
Having spent many years making fudge, we believe that the key to getting the texture just right is to invest in a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.
When traditional fudge recipes call for you to beat fudge it is always hard to know when exactly to finish or if you’ve beaten it enough. The Kitchen Aid comes with a flat paddle attachment and has varying speeds to cope with the viscosity of fudge. In many traditional/old fashion fudge recipes you’ll continuously see “stir constantly” after boiling the fudge.
How to use a stand mixer to beat fudge
Here are our top tips to using a stand mixer for a fail safe fudge consistency:
- Start off by pouring the fudge into the stand mixer bowl after the cooking process and the soft ball stage are complete. You will notice that there may be separation of the oil and sugar mixture in the bowl, but thats completely normal. Beat the mixture at speed 2.
- Next, turn the speed up a notch to number 3 and continue to beat. After 5 minutes the mixture should start to thicken and produce thick ribbons whilst getting lighter in texture.
- After 10 minutes stop the mixer and lift the paddle attachment to see how the fudge moves (the way fudge ribbons is the tell tale sign to knowing when to stop mixing). Then continue to beat.
- Keep constantly checking the consistency of your fudge to see the ribboning by lifting the paddle of the mixer. 15 minutes in you may notice that the fudge looks like its stretching.
- In general after 20- 25 minutes the fudge should start to become very viscous and produce very thin ribbons or it may have even turned to strings. The strings indicate that the fudge is now ready to be transferred to the prepared pan.
How do you make fudge firmer?
The best way for fixing old fashion traditional fudge that won’t set or is too hard is to scrape the fudge back into the saucepan and add ½ cup water. You should then stir this mixture over a low heat until the fudge has begun to dissolve.
Once the fudge starts to breakdown, you should increase the heat to medium, and bring to a boil using a wetted brush, to brush down the side of the saucepan when needed. Remember, do not stir the fudge when it starts to boil as sugar crystals may form.
Measure the temperature of the fudge with a candy thermometer and when it reads the right temperature, you need to take off the heat and follow the recipe instructions again.
How to freshen up fudge
After a week or so, your fudge may start to naturally harden. By this point you may want to make the fudge a bit softer in texture again, and you can do this by placing a piece of bread or a slightly damp paper towel in the tin with the fudge overnight.
The moisture from these should be absorbed by the fudge, hence making it softer in texture. Or, you can place the fudge into a microwavable bowl and heat it for short bursts of 10 seconds until the fudge is the softness you desire.
How to cut fudge
Have you ever tried to cut fudge with a flimsy knife? Not ideal. Instead try uing a sharp stainless steel knife once the fudge has had time to cool completely.
Trying warm the metal knife by placing it in a cup of kettle boiled water (wipe dry before cutting). This should help the knife to sink into the fudge better and give you a clean cut. Please avoid thick knives as they may break the fudge.
Tools for cutting fudge:
Although you don’t need loads of equipment for fudge making we recommend that you purchase:
- Sharp stainless steel knife
- Double ended cheese knife (sounds strange; trust us if you need to hands for strength)
In addition to these it is also good to invest in a sturdy chopping board to prevent damaging your kitchen work surfaces. We recommend using a marble slab or wooden chopping board.
If you want the fudge pieces to be uniform then we advise that you mark it out with a clean ruler and table knife before cutting. You can work out the dimensions by the taking the length of the tray you used and dividing it by how many rows you want cut.
Alternatively you could use silicone candy molds for a more precise, even looking fudge squares.
How to store fudge
The best fudge should always be kept refrigerated when the recipe calls for dairy based products. Ideally fudge should be stored in an air tight container so that it will last longer and mould spores are less likely to get to them.
These containers are great for storing fudge (see Amazon ingredient prices via links):
How to wrap fudge
Fudge at the end of the day is a piece of confectionary and when moisture gets to confectionary, it can become sticky. You should bear this in mind when it comes to wrapping your fudge.
Materials with a film or non-stick coating are best as they protect the fudge.
Use these to wrap your fudge (see Amazon ingredient prices via links):
What are the ingredients for fudge?
Traditional fudge recipes call for high brown sugar contents and have a higher risk to form sugar crystals.
Typical traditional fudge ingredients include:
- Regular milk/ whole milk
- Evaporated milk
- Clotted cream
- Brown sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Double cream
Types of ingredients which are approved for fudge flavouring
Many fudge recipes with different flavours or textures will call for extra ingredients. However, some ingredients with high fat contents, such as oils, may cause the the fudge mixture to curdle or not set.
Safe additional ingredients include:
- Biscuits/ cookies
- Chocolate chips
- Dried fruit
- Chopped nuts/ whole nuts (though we’d advise you chop them to minimize a choking hazard)
- Peanut butter (be careful on the amount you use as peanut butter and other nut butters contain high fat contents). We have a wonderful recipe for old fashion peanut butter fudge recipe, which you can try for yourself!
The easy fool-proof fudge recipe
Otherwise known as a cheats fudge, this recipe typically only calls for three ingredients to be used. We’ve listed the ingredients below and for the methods we’ve linked to their recipe pages on our website.
Three ingredient fudge recipe
- 4 Cups Chocolate of choice (white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate)
- Whole can of condensed milk
- 1 tbsp butter
Four ingredient fudge recipe
- 4 Cups Chocolate of choice
- Whole can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar/ icing sugar
These easy recipes make perfect fudge every-time!
“Free- from” fudge
Whether you’re gift making, hosting a party or you yourself require a sweet treat custom to your dietary needs- then we’ve got you covered with our ‘free from’ range of fudge.
Dairy free fudge/Vegan fudge
Recipes will typically call for:
- Oat cream or other dairy- free alternative cream (must be an alternative to double cream/ heavy cream)
- a dairy- free nut milk of your choice
- evapourated coconut milk
- a dairy- free butter/ margarine of your choice
- Glucose syrup/ golden syrup/ corn syrup
You can find our selection of dairy free and vegan fudge recipes within those categories which we’ve carefully crafted for you.
Gluten free fudge
In general fudge is gluten free. In the world of fudge making, fudge is a sweet that does not require gluten for a protein pull. It is crumbly or chewy in texture. This is because when cooking fudge the sugar syrup mixture is boiled to a specific high temperature and when cooled sets.
Making fudge may seem like a daunting process, but practice makes perfect.
At Call Me Fudge we’ll run you through the fudge making process provided with some great fudge recipes that are sure to crowd please and are great to gift during the holiday season.
Want to put this new knowledge into action? Some recommended recipes: