Learning to make perfect fudge can be a tricky process – often, it can feel like there’s a lot of trial and error to making it absolutely perfect!
Often, recipes will tell you that things are very simple to make, but that might be assuming a lot of knowledge that you don’t have – after all, if you’re still learning, you can’t be expected to know everything.
It can feel more like an art than science – but rest assured, there are tested methods that you can use to improve your fudge – you just might not know them yet!
A common problem when making fudge is that it’s too shiny . Just what causes this might seem like a mystery to you, but it needn’t be – as long as you read this guide, of course!
You’ll learn why fudge goes shiny, and how you can control it – making you a better baker, and letting you make a better fudge!
Why Is My Fudge Shiny?
To simply put it, if your fudge is too shiny it’s because you’re doing something wrong when making it. Don’t worry, because you’re about to learn what’s going on – and how you can make sure it doesn’t happen again!
The shininess in fudge comes from two things. Firstly, the mixture is not at the correct temperature when you start to beat it. And second of all, the mixture simply hasn’t been beaten for the correct amount of time!
It’s normal for fudge that’s not finished being cooked to have a shiny look to it – it just needs some more love and care to get it to that delicious matte finish.
If it doesn’t quite have that finish when you make it, then it’ll be a combination of temperature and beating time that are the culprits. Great news – you can easily learn how to fix this!
How Long Should I Cook It For?
Well, what is more important than the time is the temperature.
Times may vary depending on your stovetop, the size and thickness of your pan, your location etc – but if you know a little bit about the science behind making fudge, then you can start learning how to improve your own fudge!
You’ll need to get your fudge to what’s called the soft ball stage. This is reached when the fudge is at around 234 and 237 °F/ 112 and 114 °C.
This stage is called the soft ball stage for a very good reason – and knowing why means you know how to test the fudge to see if it has reached that stage.
In the soft ball stage, a small drop of the fudge mixture – say, a teaspoon – dropped into cold water will form into a ball shape. It’ll be soft, pliable, and will indicate that fudge has reached the right temperature.
If you beat the fudge before this stage, it won’t be ready yet – it’s crucial that you get your fudge mixture to between 109 to 113 °F/ 43 to 45 °C.
If you do the drop test and the ball turns hard, and isn’t easily moldable with your fingers, then it’s a sure sign that you’ve overcooked the fudge!
Should I Use A Candy Thermometer?
Definitely! They’re the only way that you can really be sure that your mixture is at the correct temperature.
Without one, you’re really just guessing – but if you use one, you can be sure that your mixture will get to the soft ball stage, and that you’re not beating it too early.
Make sure that you calibrate your thermometer before you use it in making sweets, especially if it’s new. You can do this pretty easily – boil some water!
How to calibrate a candy thermometer:
You know that water boils at 212°F (100°C) – so if you’re at sea level, that’s what temperature should be showing when you use your candy thermometer to check the temperature!
Beating The Fudge
After your fudge has reached the soft ball stage, then it’s ready for beating right? Nope!
This is because if you beat the fudge before it has had time to cool down to the correct temperature, sugar crystals will form – and the hotter the fudge is when you beat it, the bigger they’ll form, as they’ll have more time to grow.
Once a few nucleation sites have emerged, these crystals will grow and grow – and you could end up ruining your fudge!
Don’t beat your fudge until it has cooled to between 109 to 113 °F/ 43 to 45 °C. This means that the sugar won’t do most of its crystallization until it’s a fair bit cooler, meaning it’s more likely that you’ll get a smooth texture on your fudge.
No sooner, and no later – monitoring the temperature of your fudge is crucial! If you do this too early, or too late, then there’s very little chance your fudge will turn out as you want.
Beating your fudge at this temperature gives you by far the best chance of getting it right.
You need to beat your fudge until it has lost that glossy sheen. This might take a while, and a lot of hard work – your hands, wrists, and forearms might well be very annoyed with you after this!
Still, nothing good ever came easy! Beat the mixture until the gloss has gone away, and you’ll be on track to making a perfect fudge.
Just don’t overbeat it – you could impair your fudge!
If all else fails, then you can always reheat the mixture in the pan to start again. It means starting the whole process over again, but it’s better than throwing a batch away because it crystallized too early!
Avoid doing it if you can, but if you do have to do it, it’s fine – it can rescue a ruined fudge!
Making fudge perfectly can be tricky, but it is definitely worth it in the end! If you’ve been having problems getting rid of that shininess from your fudge, then hopefully this guide has shown you how you can get rid of it!