I don’t know if you’ve been to a candy shop recently, but fudge is fudgin’ expensive!
It’s just sugar and chocolate but you would think that it was filled with gold bullion.
When it comes to making candy, I think fudge is a pretty beginner item. It does require a bit of patience and you’ll need a decent thermometer, but assuming you can watch a thermometer and stir occasionally, it’s pretty easy to make really good fudge at home for 10% of the cost most candy shops charge.
I had never actually made fudge before I tried out this recipe. I decided to use some of the Ibarra chocolate left over from my mole attempt and toss in some cayenne to give the fudge a little bit of heat.
One of my favorite flavor combos is spicy mixed with chocolate so I knew that if I could get the fudge process down then I would end up with some pretty tasty candy.
1) Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper and set aside for later.
2) Combine sugar, half and half, chocolates, corn syrup, half of the butter, and a pinch of salt in a medium pot. Put over medium heat and stir constantly until sugar and chocolate are completely dissolved.
3) Bring mixture to a simmer. Cover pot and let simmer for three minutes.
4) Remove cover and give the mixture a quick stir. Attach your candy thermometer. Heat the mixture until it reaches the soft ball candy stage - around 235 degrees Fahrenheit.
5) Remove fudge from the heat. Add butter to the mixture, but don't stir it. Let the fudge cool slowly until it cools down to 130 degrees.
6) Add vanilla and cayenne pepper and begin stirring fudge with a heat resistant spatula. Stir until the fudge turns from silky and shiny to matte in texture. It should start to thicken as well.
7) After stirring for 4-5 minutes, pour fudge into an 8x8 baking dish lined with parchment paper.
8) Let fudge cool in fridge for at least four hours.
9) Cut fudge into 16 pieces and serve or store in the fridge for up to a week.
Recipe adapted from an Alton Brown recipe.
There is really just two tricks to fudge. First, you have to heat it to a pretty precise temperature. Then you have to slowly cool the fudge so that crystals form out of the sugar. Once the fudge hits a specific temperature, you stir it like crazy to break up the crystals as they cool and also incorporate air into the fudge.
We’ll talk more about all of this later. The good news is that for a basic fudge like this the ingredient list is pretty short.
If you don’t have Ibarra chocolate handy, you can just use four ounces of good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips.
The Ibarra chocolate is really interesting though. It’s much more brittle and sugary than most American chocolate.
Starting the Fudge
Step one to making fudge is just to melt everything down. Combine half of the butter, the chocolate, the half and half, the corn syrup, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a pot and put it over medium heat.
This will be a pretty thick mixture but will thin out as the sugar and chocolate dissolve. Stir it constantly as it heats so the sugar and chocolate don’t burn in the pot.
After about five minutes of cooking, everything should be dissolved.
The next step requires a bit of faith and I had my doubts that it would work.
Bring the fudge mixture to a slight simmer over medium heat, then cover it, and let it cook, undisturbed, for three minutes.
I’m not entirely sure why this step is necessary, but Alton said to do it, so I did it, and it worked.
The Temperature Game
Temperature control is the name of the game now for the fudge so make sure you have a good candy thermometer. As far as I know, you can’t really eyeball this. The hot fudge looks basically the same at 225 degrees or 250 degrees.
Once you uncover the fudge, give it a quick stir just to make sure it isn’t sticking and then return it to the heat and attach a candy thermometer.
If you’re in the market for a candy thermometer, I wouldn’t recommend the kind I’m using in these photos. It’s glass and is pretty fragile. Get a metal one.
Anyway, once your thermometer is attached, just watch it closely (no stirring) until the temperature reaches 235 degrees Fahrenheit.
At that point most of the water is cooked out of the fudge so it will thicken nicely but it won’t turn into a solid, hard block.
Then we just need to cool the stuff down!
Take it off the heat and add in your reserved two tablespoons of butter.
Then let it cool to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This should take around 10-15 minutes. Don’t go too far though. If the fudge cools down too much, it will harden in your pan and be ruined.
Once your chocolate is cooled down to the right temperature, you can stir in some extra flavor.
Then just start stirring the fudge! It’ll start off silky and smooth and as you stir it, air will incorporate into the fudge and cool it off more.
After 4-5 minutes of stirring, the fudge will start to thicken and it will very obviously change textures. It will go from a silky look to a matte look.
It was kind of hard to capture in photographs, but this was pretty close to my finished texture.
At this point the fudge will thicken rapidly so don’t leave it alone. Keep stirring and scoop the fudge into an 8×8 baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
This is looking good!
Stick this pan in your fridge for around four hours for the fudge to harden completely.
Then you can pull it out and remove the parchment paper. I sliced mine into 16 cubes.
If you wanted to, you could fold some nuts into the fudge after it cools down to 130 degrees. I’m not much of a fan of nuts in my fudge.
By itself, this is a really rich fudge. The cayenne is my favorite part. You don’t taste it immediately, but then it hits you on the back of your tongue and is awesome.
For my first fudge attempt, I was really happy with the results.