If you've been considering learning how to make gourmet fudge, you have come to the right place. Fudge is one of the easiest candies for the beginner to attempt. Candy making is almost a lost art, but is a skill you can master with a few simple instructions.
Fudge Making Basics
Temperature control. An essential key to making fudge correctly is temperature control. Use a candy thermometer if you are new to candy making and this will increase your chances of success. After some trial and error, you can learn to test in cold water and make fudge without the thermometer.
Equipment. Use a heavy pan for cooking the fudge. I use an iron skillet, but a heavy two-quart saucepan will do the job. Stainless will work if it has a thick pan bottom with a layer of aluminum. You will need a wooden spoon for stirring the syrup while it boils.
There are many types of fudges. Try this old-fashioned variety of cooked fudge that most people think of as real fudge.
Creamy Chocolate Fudge Recipe
Directions for Making Fudge
Butter the sides of your heavy pan or iron skillet. This prevents the sugar crystals from clinging to the pan sides and causing the fudge to be grainy. Also butter the sides and bottom of a round cake pan. Set the cake pan aside.
Combine all ingredients except the vanilla flavoring and the nuts in the pan or iron skillet. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture starts to boil. Attach candy thermometer to the side of the pan so that the bulb is under the liquid but not touching the pan's bottom.
Cook the fudge until it reaches the soft ball stage. The temperature should reach 234º F. Using the cold-water test, the candy should form a ball when a small amount is dribbled into cold water. It should hold a ball shape, enough to be removed from the water, but should soften and flatten.
Remove your pan from the heat and allow fudge to sit and cool until it reaches about 110º F. Now begin beating the fudge with the wooden spoon until it begins to lose its gloss.
When the fudge begins to stiffen, add vanilla, nuts and optional dried fruits. Pour into an 8- or 10-inch buttered round cake pan. Try not to scrape the sides of the pan. Use a rubber spatula to push the fudge out of the pan and into the cake pan. When the fudge has cooled, turn it out unto a dinner plate and then turn over again onto a serving plate so that the pretty, glossy side will be up. You can also use a glass or metal eight-inch square pan and later cut the fudge into squares. Using the round pan works well because it flexes and the fudge will easily turn out. Being round, it fits nicely on a decorative plate. Cut into chunks just before serving.
If you mail fudge as a Christmas gift, line a cookie tin with foil and break the fudge cake into chunks. Fill in spaces in the can with crumpled waxed paper to prevent fudge from compressing. Tape the can shut and mail inside a box.
Optional Recipe Additions
If your fudge becomes too stiff, knead it by hand, roll it up like a sausage and slice it. It will still be tasty.
The key to great peanut butter fudge-or any fudge, for that matter--is in the cooling process. While you do not want sugar crystals to form in most candies, you do want them to form in fudge. The crystals are very small, so they feel smooth on your tongue, instead of grainy.
Have you seen those slabs of gourmet fudge in different flavors at candy and specialty stores? Now you can make your own for gifts or to enjoy yourself.
Chocolate Fudge has always been my favorite candy. It's a very rich candy, though, so I have always limited myself to making it only at Christmas time.