Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (2024)

Home Recipes Candy Fudge

Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (1)

ByLindsay D. Mattison

Taste of Home's Editorial Process

Updated: May 05, 2024

    Homemade fudge can be a little fussy, but it's easy to make if you avoid these common fudge mistakes.

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    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (2)

    Molly Allen for Taste of Home

    Bitter Taste

    If your pot heats unevenly, chances are good the sugars will burn, giving fudge an unpleasant, acrid taste that’s impossible to fix. This is often the result of a pot that’s too thin. Instead, invest in a heavy-bottomed, stainless steel pot to set yourself up for success.

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    Grainy Fudge

    Does your fudge have a gritty or grainy texture? The sugars probably crystallized, a common mistake when making candy like fudge or caramel. If the melting sugar splashes onto the sides of the pan, it turns back into crystals and causes the fudge to seize up. To avoid this issue, swirl the pan instead of stirring it with a spoon. You can use a wet pastry brush to wipe down any sugar that sticks to the sides of the pot.

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    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (4)

    Fudge Didn’t Set

    If your fudge turned out super sticky, or it didn’t set as it cooled, it probably never got hot enough. This mistake is super easy to avoid if you use a candy thermometer and cook the fudge to the temperature specified in the recipe (usually between 234 and 239°F). By the way, here’s how to make microwave fudge if you need a new batch in a pinch.

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    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (5)

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    Too Soft or Too Hard Fudge

    The amount of time you cook fudge directly affects its firmness. 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.

    Here’s how to make homemade fudge step by step.

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    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (6)

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    Oily Fudge

    Fudge is basically an emulsion between sugar, butter and milk. If the butter gets too hot, it can separate, causing the fudge to become oily on top. This is easy to prevent by monitoring the temperature with a candy thermometer, but separated fudge can also be fixed.

    To fix oily, hard or grainy fudge, scoop the fudge back into a pot with about a cup of water. Cook it over low heat until the fudge dissolves. Then bring the fudge back up to the temperature specified in the recipe and follow the remaining steps. The flavor may be slightly diluted, but the texture will be improved.

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    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (7)

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    Sugar Crystals Formed

    It’s important to beat the fudge ingredients to develop the right texture, but you won’t get smooth, creamy fudge if you beat it when it’s too hot. Beating fudge when it’s still over heat creates sugar crystals, aka the grittiness you feel in the fudge. Instead, wait to pick up the spoon (our Test Kitchen loves using wooden spoons) until the fudge drops to between 110 and 113°F, about 15 minutes.

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    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (8)

    Rock Hard Fudge

    Beating the cooled batter is one of the crucial steps of fudge-making, but overbeating can turn fudge hard as a rock. Pay close attention to the change in appearance and only beat the fudge until it loses its glossy sheen. If you beat the fudge any longer, you might notice it start to seize, which tells you you’ve gone too far.

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    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (9)

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    Bland Tasting Fudge

    Your fudge will only be as good as the ingredients you use. Quality butter, chocolate chips and vanilla extract will create a luxurious base that will hardly need anything to amplify the sweetness. Beyond the basics, our Test Kitchen recommends mix-ins of equal quality. For example, if you want all-out with the best chocolate brands, do the same for any nuts, extracts or candies. You can make candy-shop quality fudge by toasting nuts before mixing into the fudge or making sure you’re not using last year’s peppermint sticks to crush into this year’s fudge. The fresher, the better!

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    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (10)

    Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

    Complicated Fudge

    Fudge-making requires time and attention to detail, but some of our favorite fudge recipes use a shortcut: sweetened condensed milk. These recipes don’t require a candy thermometer or any specialized equipment, so they’re perfect for beginners or anyone running short on time.

    Originally Published: January 23, 2021

    Author

    Lindsay D. Mattison

    Lindsay has been a food writer, recipe developer and product tester for seven years. She’s a culinary school graduate who specializes in sustainable food and seasonal ingredients. She draws on her professional chef background to develop recipes and help home cooks gain confidence in the kitchen. When Lindsay isn’t writing, you’ll find her coo...

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    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (11)

    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them (2024)

    FAQs

    Fudge-Making Mistakes and How to Fix Them? ›

    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.

    What to do with failed 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.

    What not to do when making fudge? ›

    7 Common Mistakes to Avoid for Candy Shop-Worthy Fudge and Caramels
    1. Using the Wrong Pan. All candy and confections start by melting sugar. ...
    2. Stirring the Sugar. ...
    3. Not Using a Candy Thermometer. ...
    4. Leaving Out the Parchment Paper Lining. ...
    5. Skipping the Cooking Spray. ...
    6. Scraping the Pot. ...
    7. Using a Cold Knife to Slice.
    Dec 16, 2015

    What is the secret to good fudge? ›

    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).

    Why won't my 3 ingredient condensed milk fudge set? ›

    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.

    How do I fix messed up fudge? ›

    To fix oily, hard or grainy fudge, scoop the fudge back into a pot with about a cup of water. Cook it over low heat until the fudge dissolves. Then bring the fudge back up to the temperature specified in the recipe and follow the remaining steps. The flavor may be slightly diluted, but the texture will be improved.

    What happens if you over stir fudge? ›

    If you continue stirring once the mixture is simmering, you are encouraging the development of sugar crystals. While crystallization is the goal if you're making hard candy, crunchy sugar bits can quickly ruin a fudge's silky smooth texture.

    What to do if you forgot to beat fudge? ›

    If you forget to beat the fudge, try heating it back up over low heat, then beat it once it's slightly softened. If you beat the fudge too soon, the crystals will be too large, and the fudge will be grainy.

    Why can't you make fudge when it's raining? ›

    As strange as it sounds, it is a fact that weather affects fudge making. This is because when the weather is damper with an increased humidity level your Homemade Fudge Recipe will take longer to boil.

    How can you tell when fudge is done? ›

    You know it's ready when a small amount of the mixture dropped into a glass of cold water sets into a soft ball that you can lift out with a teaspoon and pinch between your fingers. Turn off the heat and keep stirring for 5 minutes or until the mix starts to thicken a little.

    Do you stir fudge when it's boiling? ›

    Never stir the mixture during cooking or sugar could crystallize again. The mixture may seize and become grainy. Use a candy thermometer or conduct a cold water test to check if the fudge is done.

    How do you make fudge creamy and not grainy? ›

    A lot of big crystals in fudge makes it grainy. By letting the fudge cool without stirring, you avoid creating seed crystals. Stirring would help sucrose molecules "find" one another and start forming crystals.

    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 do you make homemade fudge firmer? ›

    ​Harden the fudge:​ Place your container or tins in the fridge for 2 hours, which is the time it takes for the fudge to set. Once it's hardened, cut the fudge into 12 pieces or remove it from the muffin tins. Store in the fridge or the freezer (if you don't devour it right away).

    What gives fudge its firm texture? ›

    The key to creamy, luscious fudge is controlling crystal formation. If the sucrose (table sugar) crystals are small, the fudge will feel creamy and smooth on your tongue. But if the crystals are large, the fudge develops a crumbly, dry, or even coarse texture.

    What happens if I use sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk in fudge? ›

    Choose Pure Vanilla Extract- For a wonderfully rich and robust flavor, pure vanilla extract is recommended over imitation vanilla. Use Evaporated Milk- Make sure to use evaporated milk and not sweetened condensed milk. If you accidentally use sweetened condensed milk your fudge will be incredibly over the top sweet.

    Can you melt and reset fudge? ›

    Pop the grainy fudge back into the pan along with some water and a little cream and melt the fudge back down to a liquid and re-boil it to temperature. Heat slowly to begin with and make sure the mixture goes completely smooth before bringing it to the boil.

    What should fudge look like after beating? ›

    The fudge is then beaten as this makes the fudge slightly crumbly rather than chewy. Beating the mixture encourages the formation of small sugar crystals, which leads to the crumbly texture. The crystals may not be noticeable in themselves but the fudge mixture will thicken and turn from shiny to matte in appearance.

    Can fudge be overcooked? ›

    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.

    Why did my fudge turn out chewy? ›

    If the temperature is too low, the fudge will be too soft and sticky, and if it's too high, it will turn into a hard, crumbly mess. The ideal temperature to cook fudge is between 232-234 degrees F (111-112 degrees C).

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