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? ›

Valuable tips for successful fudge
  • Don't stir during cooking. Fudge can be cooked on the stove or in the microwave. ...
  • Avoid crystallization. During cooking, sugar crystals can stick to the sides of the pan. ...
  • Let cool before beating. After being cooked, the sugar must crystallize again to create fudge. ...
  • Beat the mixture.

How to make fudge more solid? ›

How do you fix fudge that is too soft? Bring the fudge back to a boil with 1–2 US tbsp (15–30 ml) of cream. If your fudge is soft or runny, it probably didn't come up to a high enough temperature while it was cooking. Put it back into the saucepan and add 1–2 US tbsp (15–30 ml) of 35% fat whipping cream.

Why won't my 2 ingredient fudge set? ›

Why won't my 2-ingredient fudge set? If your fudge isn't setting, it might be due to underheating the mixture or not chilling it long enough.

What happens if you boil fudge too long? ›

Too cooked

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).

What is the secret to smooth fudge that is not gritty? ›

Once a seed crystal forms, it grows bigger and bigger as the fudge cools. A lot of big crystals in fudge makes it grainy. By letting the fudge cool without stirring, you avoid creating seed crystals.

Do you stir fudge when it's 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.

Why is my 3 ingredient fudge not setting? ›

Why won't my 3 ingredient fudge set? This often happens when the condensed milk and chocolate chip mixture isn't hot enough to start. Everything must be completely melted before it is transferred to the pan to cool.

What causes fudge not to get hard? ›

Too little time and the water won't evaporate, causing the fudge to be soft. Conversely, cook it too long and fudge won't contain enough water, making it hard with a dry, crumbly texture. Pay attention to the timetable specified in the recipe, and you'll get the hang of it after a batch or two.

How to rescue fudge that won't set? ›

How can you fix soft fudge? Put it in a microwave safe bowl that is large enough that it won't boil over. Reheat it to the boiling point and cook for about 3 more minutes. Then you can beat some powdered sugar into it if this doesn't make it set.

What to do with failed fudge? ›

Options for what you can do with your unset fudge:

OPTION 1) Depending on how runny it is, you can either use it as a frosting for cakes, or a sauce for ice-cream. OPTION 2) Freeze it overnight. Cut it into squares. Cover each square thickly in melted chocolate, ensuring no part of the fudge is exposed.

How long does it take for fudge to fully set? ›

Proper fudge will set after sitting at room temperature for about 4 hours. Understand that cooking the fudge properly is the skirmish before the war. The real test of your mettle will occur when you beat the fudge, and learn to master the fine art of turning and pouring. And if it doesn't work out it's okay!

Why is my fudge falling apart? ›

Candy that isn't cooked long enough will end up too soft; overcooking makes fudge crumbly or hard. High-quality fudge has many small crystals. If the process of crystallization begins too early, fewer crystals form and they become much larger.

How to fix runny fudge? ›

How can you fix soft fudge? Put it in a microwave safe bowl that is large enough that it won't boil over. Reheat it to the boiling point and cook for about 3 more minutes. Then you can beat some powdered sugar into it if this doesn't make it set.

What is the soft ball test for fudge? ›

The cold-water test for soft ball stage is this: Fill a cup with very cold water. Spoon a small amount of the boiling candy mixture into the cold water. If the syrup forms a soft ball in the water that flattens when removed, it is at soft-ball stage.

Should fudge be refrigerated to set? ›

Fudge is best stored at room temperature for 2 to 3 weeks wrapped up in its original wax paper. NEVER REFRIGERATE your fudge as this will draw out the moisture and leave you with dry, crumbly fudge.

Why hasn't my fudge set properly? ›

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.

What does cream of tartar do in fudge? ›

Cream of tartar is used in caramel sauces and fudge to help prevent the sugar from crystallizing while cooking. It also prevents cooling sugars from forming brittle crystals, this is why it's the secret ingredient in snickerdoodles!

How long do you boil fudge to get to soft ball stage? ›

How long does it take to make fudge:
  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.

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