Mom's Old-Fashioned Fudge ((A "how-to" for perfect fudge)) • Food for a Year: (2024)

Nothing says home to me more than a batch of old-fashioned fudge. Not just home, but love. Where I come from, a plate of fudge can say “I love you” almost better than words.Really, fudge is the international sign for “I love you”. No one makes it better than my momma. With a little practice and her essential tips, you will be well on your way to telling someone you love them — in the best language I know, “fudge”.

I moved away from home in the summer of 1996, I mean REALLY moved away. I moved out of the house in ’92 but given the fact that I went to OU, I was only 19 minutes from home & I don’t call that “away”. But in the summer of ’96, I moved to Dallas & began working on my Masters at SMU.

I felt VERY “away”. I was alone. I can close my eyes and remember standing on the sidewalk, in front of my new apartment, deep in the heart of Dallas, as I watched mom and dad drive away. The feeling was awful.

As the weeks passed, school consumed a lot of my time and helped distract my homesick feelings. But nothing eased the ache for home more than a batch of mom’s fudge.

Somewhere in that old Dallas apartment, amid notebooks, textbooks & study sheets, I had a handwritten ((chocolate stained)) recipe entitled “mom’s fudge”. As the years passed I referred to it less and less, developing the ability to recall the ingredients and steps from memory.

Being young and poor, I never had a candy thermometer. ((A candy thermometer is essential BTW)) Without this handy, modern device, I was forced to make fudge like “they” did in the 1800’s. Coincidentally, I recently purchased a vintage German cookbook, first printed in 1909, that describes the technique I used in that tiny Dallas kitchen almost 2 decades ago.

Mom's Old-Fashioned Fudge ((A "how-to" for perfect fudge)) • Food for a Year: (6)

What ancient technique does a poor grad student need to use in order to quench that homesick ache?? The “ice water method”. Now, I am not telling you this because I recommend it. To the contrary, I think you need to avoid it. Modern technology may have complicated life in so many ways – but when it comes to fudge-making, technology has helped immensely.

Mom's Old-Fashioned Fudge ((A "how-to" for perfect fudge)) • Food for a Year: (7)

The ice-water method requires the cook to drop beads of boiling fudge into a small dish of ice water. If, when rolled between your fingers in the ice water, a ball forms, then the fudge has reached the proper temperature ((one assumes)). This method never worked for me. The fudge either be would be over-cooked and hard needing a chisel to break apartor undercooked like syrup and eaten with a spoon.

Whatever the state of matter my chocolate creation resided in, the flavor & aroma were close enough to mom’s that I could, for a second or two, pretend home wasn’t as far away as it really was.

Many years have passed since those dreary days in that cramped Dallas kitchen. I have not only gained a herd of fudge lovers, I have also acquired that all-important candy thermometer. Yes, life is completely different!

I have moved back into the 19 minute from home range – and have reverted to relying on momma to make my fudge. But this past weekend I asked mom to give me a fudge making refresher. She had two very important tips that led to a perfect batch of fudge ((twice in one weekend–tight pants alert))

  • once the ingredients (minus the butter & vanilla) are combined, do not stir again until the fudge has cooled (between 150° & 160°)

  • stop cooking at 232° (2° shy of the soft ball stage)

There you have it – the two secrets to perfect fudge are now available to you! Fly you little perfect fudge maker, fly free!

Here are the specifics: As soon as the temperature reaches 232°, remove from the flame & add butter and vanilla. Allow the fudge mixture to rest until the temperature registers between 150°-160°.

Once the desired temperature is reached, beat the ever-loving stuffing out of the fudge. Two to three minutes of hardcore mixing (by hand). This is where you earn the right to eat half of the batch.

Now this part really is perfected by experience. You will know the fudge is ready to be poured out into the prepared dish when:

  • the spoon leaves a path in the fudge and the path stays for a second or two
  • the bubbles formed while beating the fudge turn from round to long & skinny

You will know you beat it too long when:

  • the glossy sheen disappears (oops)
  • it turns hard in the pan (oops)

So stop before that happens. Okay, you stopped beating at the right time, yay for you! Now, FAST!! Turn the fudge out into the prepared ((buttered)) pan. Do not spread it because you will lose that glossy sheen. If you stirred it 2 seconds too long it will look like mine did:

Notice how it didn’t spread into the dish?? I could have spread it but I would have lost that gorgeous glossy sheen. I didn’t want to loose that! Creamy & rich – just perfect.

Really, as I learned all those years ago, there is no such thing as bad fudge ((unless you burn it — so do not burn it)). The more you make it the better you will get, like momma always says “practice makes perfect.”

Mom's Old-Fashioned Fudge ((A "how-to" for perfect fudge)) • Food for a Year: (15)

Old-Fashioned Fudge

2015-03-14 14:21:39

Mom's Old-Fashioned Fudge ((A "how-to" for perfect fudge)) • Food for a Year: (16)

Serves 6

Perfectly creamy and smooth with that classic rich, deep chocolate flavor. A classic, decadent treat, sure to spread love!

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Prep Time

5 min

Cook Time

15 min

Prep Time

5 min

Cook Time

15 min

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size




Amount Per Serving

Calories 333

Calories from Fat 42

% Daily Value *

Total Fat 5g


Saturated Fat 3g


Trans Fat 0g

Polyunsaturated Fat 0g

Monounsaturated Fat 1g

Cholesterol 11mg


Sodium 52mg


Total Carbohydrates 73g


Dietary Fiber 2g


Sugars 69g

Protein 2g

Vitamin A


Vitamin C






* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Does this look wrong?


  1. 2 c pure cane granulated sugar
  2. 1/3 c cocoa powder
  3. 2 T corn syrup
  4. 2/3 c whole milk
  5. a scant pinch of fine sea salt
  6. 2 T salted butter
  7. 1 heavy t vanilla
  8. extra butter to prepare dish


  1. It is important to note before the instructions are listed, a digital candy thermometer is essential to making a perfect batch of fudge. Clip your candy thermometer to the side of your medium saucepan, making sure the tip of the thermometer is about 1/2" from the bottom of the pan. Set the thermometer to "soft ball" stage.
  2. Place sugar & cocoa powder into the saucepan and whisk to combine and remove any lumps. Add corn syrup, milk and sea salt. Stir to combine. Remove spoon
  3. Turn flame to medium-high, do not stir the fudge anymore*. Watch the temperature closely, remove from flame when the fudge reaches 232° ((not the soft ball temp of 234°)). While the fudge is approaching temperature, butter the dish the fudge will be poured into. An 8"x8", or a 6"x8" oblong is perfect.
  4. Once 232° is reached, turn off flame and add butter & vanilla. Do not stir*. Allow the fudge to cool to between 150° - 160°. Once the fudge has cooled to this range, use a wooden or silicon spoon and vigorously stir the fudge for about 3 minutes. You will know the fudge is ready to be poured into the prepared dish when stir lines remain in the bottom of the saucepan and the fudge doesn't quickly run smooth when you stop stirring.
  5. When the stir lines ((meaning you can see the bottom of the pan for a few seconds before it runs back to smooth)) appear, pour the fudge into the prepared pan. Fight the urge to spread the fudge out smooth. If you spread it, you will lose the gorgeous glossy sheen. Allow to cool to room temperature and cut into bite size pieces as you serve, don't cut the entire pan at once or it will dry out. Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature on the counter.


  1. *Stirring during cooking and cooling will cause sugar crystals to form within the fudge,yielding a grainy final product.

Adapted from tips from Susan Cathey ((mom))











Adapted from tips from Susan Cathey ((mom))

Food for a Year:


Mom's Old-Fashioned Fudge ((A "how-to" for perfect fudge)) • Food for a Year: (2024)


What is the secret to perfect 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).

Is evaporated milk or condensed milk better for fudge? ›

Evaporated milk doesn't have sugar added. The sweetened condended milk is needed as no extra sugar is added to the fudge. If evaporated milk were used then the fudge would not be sweet enough and also would still be too soft unless the fudge is frozen.

How long does old fashioned fudge last? ›

The best way to store fudge is cut into squares and placed in an airtight container. You can store fudge at room temperature for up to two weeks or in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Be sure to place a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil between each layer of fudge in the container.

What is the secret to smooth fudge that is not gritty? ›

Once a seed crystal forms, it grows bigger and bigger as the fudge cools. A lot of big crystals in fudge makes it grainy. By letting the fudge cool without stirring, you avoid creating seed crystals.

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 makes fudge so good? ›

It's the size of sugar crystals that makes the knees of fudge lovers buckle…the smaller the crystals, the less they are perceived on the tongue and the more the fudge tastes smooth and creamy. Cooking, and beating after cooking, is the key to successful fudge.

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

These items are essentially the same with one big difference: no sugar is added to evaporated milk. Sweetened condensed milk also has 60% of the water removed, but contains 40% sugar. Due to the big flavor difference, they cannot be substituted for each other.

What can I substitute for evaporated milk in fudge? ›

We have 6 different suggestions for evaporated milk substitutions.
  • Regular Milk (whole, 2% or skim) ...
  • Heavy Cream. ...
  • Half-and-Half. ...
  • Powdered Milk. ...
  • Regular Non-Dairy Milk (almond, oat, etc) ...
  • Coconut Milk.
Feb 28, 2023

Why is my fudge not setting condensed milk? ›

The main reason is that your Fudge has not reached the optimum temperature. If your mixture only reaches 110 or 112 degrees Celsius it will always be soft. That's why we recommend investing in a sugar thermometer. Another reason your Fudge is not setting is that the ratio of liquid to sugar is too high.

How do you fix old fashioned fudge? ›

To fix soft fudge or hard fudge, simply follow these easy steps: Scrape the fudge back into a large saucepan and add 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir the fudge over low heat until it dissolves. Carefully taste the mixture, as the water probably diluted the flavor.

Is it better to freeze or refrigerate fudge? ›

So to recap, it's best to store proper fudge at room temperature. Keeping it in the fridge takes out all its moisture, drying it out. Homemade fudge is best in the fridge. No matter where you store it, the goal is to protect the fudge from exposure to the elements so airtight containers are best!

What happens if you cook fudge too long? ›

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.

Should you stir fudge while it's cooking? ›

Don't stir!

Once the fudge reaches soft-ball stage on the candy thermometer, remove from the heat and let the temperature drop to 110°F. Keep that spoon or spatula out of the pot until this happens. If you stir too early in the process, you'll make the sugar crystals too big and end up with grainy fudge.

How do you fix soft fudge that didn't set? ›

To fix it, you can reheat the fudge mixture over low heat and continue cooking until it reaches the proper temperature. Be sure to use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature accurately. Alternatively, you can try to salvage chewy fudge by mixing it into ice cream or using it as a topping for desserts.

Why did my fudge turn out like taffy? ›

If the fudge is very soft and slightly chewy then it is possible that it did not quite cook to soft ball stage and next time the mixture should be cooked to a slightly higher temperature (soft ball is 112-116c/235-240F and a sugar or candy thermometer can help).

Do you stir fudge while it is boiling? ›

Avoid Stirring Once the Mixture Comes to a Simmer

Another key part of a successful fudge texture is when you stir the mixture. Stirring the sugar and milk during the initial stages of cooking allows the sugar to dissolve. However, once the mixture comes to a boil, it's time to put the spoon down.

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 does cream of tartar do in fudge? ›

If you add a teaspoon of Cream of Tartar to fudge this will inhibit the formation of crystals to a degree but please be aware THIS DOES NOT REPLACE THE BEATING PROCESS!

Can you beat fudge in a stand mixer? ›

Pour the mixture over the chocolate, being sure to shake, not scrape, the mixture from the pot. Set aside to cool for 10 to 12 minutes. (This prevents a grainy consistency.) Using the clean wooden spoon or a standing mixer on low speed, stir or beat the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated.

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