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Friday, January 29, 2016

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Chocolate Fudge

Pieces of Old-Fashioned Chocolate Fudge

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Chocolate Fudge

Inspired by the sweet chew of last week's Taffy, and undeterred by the second degree burns, I couldn't help but pursue more candy-making this week.

While researching and testing the Taffy recipe, I repeatedly came across articles discussing the technical aspects of making Fudge. I found this to be odd. After all, isn't Fudge just a reconstituted Chocolate product and not a Sugar-based confection (i.e. one for which the proper heating of Sugar is a critical part of the technique). 

Growing up, Fudge was Chocolate that had been melted with some Marshmallows - in my case, Marshmallow Fluff (using the "Never Fail" recipe on the side of the plastic tub). This "Fudge" was perfectly fine. But it certainly wasn't hardcore candy-making.

True Fudge is so much more. Those recipes with interloping Marshmallows are cheating approximations. True Fudge involves boiling a molten Sugar mixture to the Soft Ball Stage and then cooling it undisturbed before beating it into submission. 

The process results in a confection in which the Sugar recrystallizes. Recrystallization is typically the bane of a candy-makers existence. But rather than take shape into large, coarse crystals, the Sugar forms into a multitude of tiny crystals that produce an extremely smooth candy.

So if you want real Fudge... real delicious Fudge... grab your candy thermometer and your wooden spoon!

Ingredients for Chocolate Fudge to be Boiled
Fudge is more or less a one pot candy, but make sure it's a big pot. Once the Fudge mixture is boiling, it will more than double in volume.

Before you start boiling the ingredients, make sure they are well combined. In particular, whisk together the Cocoa Powder and Sugar before you add any wet ingredients. This will help prevent the notoriously finicky Cocoa Powder from clumping.

Bowl with Butter and Vanilla Extract for Fudge
Some recipes call for Cream rather than Milk. However, Cream-based recipes use less Butter. In the end, the total fat content is nearly identical. So is the final product.

Adding some Corn Syrup helps prevent the Sugar from recrystallizing prematurely, but it is not required. It is just a safe-guard and can be viewed as an optional ingredient.

Boiling Pot of Fudge
Once you have the pot on the heat, continually stir the Fudge mixture until it reaches a boil. Then stop stirring! Avoid doing anything that could cause the Sugar to recrystallize. Follow these tips from the recipe for Taffy.

Cooling Bowl of Fudge
Once the Fudge mixture reaches the Soft-Ball Stage at 238 degrees Fahrenheit (114 degrees Celsius), pour it into a bowl with the Butter and Vanilla Extract and set it aside to cool.

Again, do not stir! The Fudge mixture should be left undisturbed until it cools to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius), the ideal point at which small Sugar crystals can form and propagate.

Bowl of Fudge Being Beaten to the Correct Consistency
The cooled Fudge mixture should be beaten until it takes on a matte finish. This can be done by hand or on low speed in an electric mixer.

The longer and more aggressively the Fudge is beaten, the more Sugar crystals that will form. Fudge that contains more of these tiny crystals will be smoother tasting and less sticky. At no point should the Fudge taste gritty. Grittiness is a sign that large Sugar crystals formed.

A similar process is followed when making Fondant, that sweet, creamy center found in Cadbury Creme Eggs. That creamy texture comes from a multitude of tiny Sugar crystals, just as with Chocolate Fudge.

Plate with Pieces of Fudge
But Fudge need not be Chocolate flavored.

While it so happens that Chocolate Fudge is the most popular version in the United States, the basic technique can be applied with many different ingredients such as Maple Syrup and Peanut Butter - two equally delicious versions.

Overhead View of Plate with Pieces of Fudge
Fudge will keep well for a week when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

- The Recipe -

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Fudge:

Yield: 1,000g - Approximately Two Dozen Squares (~20g)

  • Sugar: 500g (2.5 Cups)
  • Cocoa Powder: 80g (2/3 Cup)
  • Salt: 3g (0.5 Tsp)
  • Corn Syrup: 45g (3 Tbls)
  • Milk: 300g (1.25 Cups)

  • Butter: 60g (0.25 Cup / 0.5 Stick)
  • Vanilla Extract: 4g (1 Tsp)

1. Line an 8" x 8" or similar volume pan with plastic wrap and set it aside.

Chef's Note: To get the plastic wrap to adhere to the pan, spray it with a light coating of non-stick spray before laying down the plastic wrap.

2. In a large pot, gently whisk together the Sugar, Cocoa Powder and Salt. Add the Milk and Corn Syrup and stir the ingredients until they are well combined. Place the pot over high heat and bring the Fudge mixture to a boil while stirring constantly.

3. Stop stirring and reduce the heat to medium. Continue to boil the Fudge mixture until it reaches the Soft-Ball Stage - 238 degrees Fahrenheit (114 degrees Celsius).

4. As soon as the target temperature is reached, pour the Fudge mixture into a large bowl with the Butter and Vanilla Extract, but do not stir. Set the bowl aside until the mixture cools to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) - about 45 minutes to an hour.

Chef's Note: Different flavored Extracts can be used if desired.

5. Once the Fudge mixture has cooled, slowly stir the bowl until the Butter and Vanilla Extract are well incorporated. You can also use an electric mixer on low speed. Continue to beat the Fudge until it thickens and transforms from a shiny appearance to a matte finish - approximately 10 minutes.

Chef's Note: Do not under-beat the Fudge. Beating the Fudge transforms it from a sticky texture to the desired smooth consistency.

6. Once the Fudge is adequately mixed, pour it into the prepared pan. Spread the Fudge into a smooth, even layer with an offset spatula. Set the pan aside for the Fudge to fully set - at least two hours. The Fudge can also be wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator to speed the setting process. When the Fudge has set, remove it from the sheet tray and discard the plastic wrap. Portion the Fudge using a sharp knife.

- Store the Fudge in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

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  1. Will a 4 quart pot be big enough for the job?

    1. Yes - You'll be safe for a single recipe batch!