Did you know that fudge is a crystalline candy? Tiny crystals in fudge are what give it its firm but smooth texture. To make the perfect fudge, you need these crystals to form at just the right time. If they form too early or too late, you’ll end up with coarse and grainy fudge. Here’s how to get the timing right to make the perfect fudge:
- Gather your ingredients. You’ll need about 3 ounces of coarsely chopped, unsweetened chocolate. You’ll also need 3 cups of sugar, a cup of half-and-half, a tablespoon of corn syrup, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons butter, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. You can also add ingredients like nuts or dried fruit, although these are optional.
- Gather your supplies. To make fudge, you need an 8-inch square pan, waxed paper, a saucepan, a wooden spoon, a candy thermometer, and a cutting board. Prepare your pan by greasing it with butter or lining it with waxed paper, so that the fudge won’t stick to it.
- Begin cooking the fudge. In your saucepan, mix together the chocolate, sugar, half-and-half, corn syrup, and salt. Stir the mixture over medium-low heat until it begins to boil. As soon as this happens, stop stirring, and attach the candy thermometer so you can keep an eye on the temperature. Let this mixture cook without stirring until it is 235 to 240 degrees, which is considered the soft-ball stage.
- Let it cool. Once it has reached this stage, remove it from the heat. Let is rest undisturbed until it has cooled to around 110 degrees. At this point, a slight skin may have formed on the top of the mixture. Be patient, as this could take some time. If you have a marble slab, you can pour it onto the slab, which will speed the process.
- Continue the process. Now, add the vanilla and butter, and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon. If you are adding nuts or dried fruit, now is the time. Stir constantly until the fudge “sets up”, or becomes stiff. This step requires patience as well, as it can take 15 to 20 minutes of stirring. However, if you stir it too long, or start stirring while it is too warm, the fudge will become coarse and grainy.
- Finish the fudge. Now, pour your fudge into the pan and press it into the corners. Allow it to cool at room temperature for a few hours, and then remove it from the pan and cut it into squares of your desired size. To store the fudge, keep it in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper.
To increase your chances of success, don’t try to make fudge if it is rainy or humid, as this can affect how the sugar cooks. Candy making is a precise art, and it takes practice to get it right. However, making fudge is easier than you think, and if you follow these steps, you’ll be making the perfect fudge in no time.