How about a delectable batch of freshly made fudge, wonderfully smooth and a rival to any boxed candy. Just don’t tell that sweetheart how easy it was.
There are a few secrets to making perfect fudge every time; real cooked fudge with a slightly crumbly texture, not the gooey marshmallow crème in the microwave kind. The key to success is knowing the science involved. No intimidation intended. Chemistry is the basis of cooking and baking, especially when it comes to candy making.
It starts with a basic sugar slurry that can be adapted for any flavor. Not cooking flavorings retains their true taste.
How to Make Perfect Fudge
In a large bowl place:
- 9 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate or other flavor chips or broken pieces.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Combine in a heavy 2-quart saucepan:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 14-ounce can condensed milk (unsweetened)
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- dash of salt
Here are the secrets to making it work perfectly.
- Coat a wooden spoon (bowl and part of the stem) with a very light coating of non-stick spray. Do the same with the top two inches or so of the inside of the pan. This will prevent the slurry from sticking to parts of the pan and spoon that will stay cool enough for sugar crystals to form. This is what causes grainy fudge.
- Control the boil. This requires about 15 minutes of undivided attention. Over medium heat, stir continuously, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching. Adjust heat as necessary to bring the slurry to and keep it at a rolling boil that comes to just below the top of the pan.
- What makes fudge set properly is not so much the temperature as the moisture content. Don’t bother with a candy thermometer. When the slurry is ready, it will darken and condense in on itself. Cook and stir for about a minute longer. The process can be aided by turning on the stove’s exhaust fan.
- Immediately pour the slurry over flavorings. Do not scrape the pan! This is where sugar crystals form and fudge fails.
- Allow fudge to cool without stirring until it is lukewarm. This will take 2-3 hours. Check it occasionally to be sure it has not become too hard to stir.
- Add a teaspoon of vanilla or other extract, such as almond, mint or orange.
- Stir, or beat on low with dough hooks, until the fudge is very thick and loses its gloss.
- Pour fudge into an 8-inch square pan lined with aluminum foil lightly greased with unsalted butter. Cover loosely and place in refrigerator to set.
Cutting is easy following these steps:
- Place tightly-wrapped fudge in the freezer at least a couple of hours beforehand. Also freeze a large knife and glass cutting board. Or use a marble cutting board (do not freeze).
- Remove fudge from pan and peel away foil. Cut into 64 pieces. Place pieces in paper candy cups, available at grocery and other stores. Great container ideas are round or heart-shaped tins or disposable heart-shaped foil baking pans that come with clear plastic tops. A little less fancy, but a time-saver; pour the fudge directly into the heart-shaped pan.
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