There’s nothing better than a batch of homemade fudge just like your mother or grandma used to make.
Homemade fudge can be a little difficult to master at times, but as long as you know the basics, it’s easy to avoid these common fudge mistakes such as turning your fudge into toffee. Read on to find out what your issues might be and the best steps to take to fix them!
We’ll go through the common mistakes you could be making if your fudge keeps on coming out like toffee instead of fudge.
Then we’ll go step by step on how you can fix all these mistakes! After making a few adjustments, you should be well on your way to making the perfect fudge without it turning into toffee!
What Should Fudge Look Like?
Fudge should be dense, crumbly, and melt in your mouth. What people call the ‘perfect fudge’ differs according to taste and geographical region, but even then there are a lot of similarities that make some fudges a cut above the rest.
The ‘perfect fudge’ should be a golden color, and should have a firm consistency that hardens well, and is easy to cut with a sharp knife. Because fudge is a crystalline candy, once it hardens, the finished product should be soft enough to be bitten into without any issues.
To create the perfect fudge, the ingredients should be combined and cooked to 234 and 237 °F/ 112 and 114 °C without stirring (here’s when many people have issues). Then cooled to 109 to 113 °F/ 43 to 45 °C and beaten with a strong wooden spoon vigorously until the mixture becomes thick and creamy.
This will usually take between 5 and 15 minutes when beating by hand. You can use an electric mixer, but the traditional method is done by beating with a wooden spoon.
Not Boiling Your Fudge Mixture For The Correct Amount Of Time, Or At The Right Temperature
If you boil your fudge ingredients to less than 234 and 237 °F/ 112 and 114 °C, your fudge isn’t going to burn off all the extra moisture from your cream.
You need your fudge to be boiled at a high enough temperature that the sugar and cream become more like a thick, slightly crumbly mixture than a wet toffee.
Of course, there is a fine line here because if you boil it higher than 234 and 237 °F/ 112 and 114 °C then your texture is going to be too hard, too dry, and too crumbly at the end.
It’s a really good idea to use a candy thermometer and perhaps a timer to make sure you are boiling your fudge at the correct temperature for the right amount of time.
Below are a few candy thermometers that are perfect for making sure you are boiling your fudge at the right temperature:
Wilton Candy Thermometer with Side Clamp
This is a great choice if you want to have a constant temperature reading without having to worry about your thermometer falling over at a crucial moment! Perfect for when you need to constantly stir a product like fudge to keep the temperature even.
Taylor Precision Digital Candy Thermometer
Excellent for the ultimate in precision- probably the best choice if you are struggling to get your fudge temperature to be spot-on as it has a clear digital display and a clip to keep it attached to your pan at all times.
Make sure you follow your recipe to the letter! The general rule of thumb is to bring your ingredients up to a boil of 234 and 237 °F/ 112 and 114 °C, and then take off the heat as soon as you reach this temperature.
It should take around fifteen minutes or so for your fudge to come back down to the correct temperature (109 to 113 °F/ 43 to 45 °C) before beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is a dull, matte color.
Not Beating For Long Enough
The sugar in your fudge will need to fully dissolve before you can cool it down and beat it.
What is happening when you cool it down and beat it is that the sugar is recrystallizing, making a hard structure that is incorporating your cream.
If you are not beating for long enough, those crystals will not form a dense enough structure and you’ll end up with a looser, toffee-like consistency that doesn’t set correctly.
Make sure you are beating your fudge as soon as it gets down to 109 to 113 °F/ 43 to 45 °C. This should be about ten to fifteen minutes after it has been taken off the heat, but make sure you are constantly checking your candy thermometer!
Make sure you are beating it for long enough! You are looking for a stiff and dull-looking paste, it’ll get really hard to mix at the end stages but don’t be tempted to give up!
As soon as you get a matte texture that has lost all its shine, pour immediately into a lined or greased tray to cool completely. You should end up with a dense and slightly crumbly fudge that doesn’t look like toffee!
Other Potential Issues
Not Having A Heavy-based Pan
Get yourself a thick bottomed pan so you can be sure that the heat is distributed correctly throughout your fudge mixture- this will ensure you don’t burn parts of your mixture and will keep the temperature even.
Cooks Standard Classic Stockpot– this is a great choice as it has straight sides and a heavy-duty base for even heat distribution.
Mixture Is Grainy
Make sure you are not stirring your fudge during the cooking process. This will cause your fudge to crystallize and leave you with grainy, lumpy fudge that won’t taste good.
Be sure to not incorporate any of the crystals that form on the side of the pan as this will start a chain reaction in your fudge crystallizing the whole lot.
Run a wet brush around the edges of your pan to prevent crystallization during cooking.
Teal Silicone Pastry Brush– a great choice to brush down the sides of your pan to prevent the crystallization of your sugar.
Hopefully, this has given you an insight into how to make your fudge perfectly and prevent it from turning into toffee! Happy Cooking!