By Jean Redstone
It’s probably one of the first fresh-from-the-stove sweets everyone remembers – the creamy, chocolate-y chunk of mouth-melting goodness your mom or grandmom or aunt gave you as a kid. Fudge is a classic treat, a shared memory between generations of a simple but totally satisfying bite of wonderful from the kitchen.
Easy to make, the traditional fudge recipe is both perfect on its own and the basis for creative additions. Keep the tradition going in your own household and make some fudge to share.
OLD-FASHIONED CLASSIC CHOCOLATE FUDGE
What you think of when you think of fudge
2 C white sugar
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C whole milk
2 Tbls butter (plus more for greasing the dish)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C of ice water
Whisk together the sugar, cocoa and salt in a heavy-bottom sauce pan. Add the milk and whisk until blended. A few lumps are OK. They’ll blend as you heat the mixture. Bring mix to a boil over a medium-low heat and stir now and then with the spatula to keep mix from crisping on the bottom. Gently boil the mix but keep the heat as low as possible to avoid scorching.
While the fudge is cooking, butter the bottom and sides of an 8X8 inch baking pan. Fill a glass or cup with ice water and set next to the stove.
Check the fudge for doneness after 10 minutes of boiling. If you are using a thermometer, the fudge is ready at 235°F. Or you can use the soft ball test. Take up a small bit of the hot mix with a metal spoon and drizzle a little fudge in a cup of ice water. If it forms a soft, pliable ball, the fudge is done. You’ll know your fudge is almost ready is when the larger and smaller bubbles change to just smaller, tighter bubbles. Begin testing as soon as you notice the change. When the fudge is done, take the pan off the stove and gently stir in the vanilla and butter.
Remove from the stove and place the pan of fudge in a sink with about an inch or two of cold water. Be careful not to splash water into the pan. Holding the pan steady with one hand, beat the fudge using a wooden spoon until it is fairly cool but still liquid.
Pour the fudge into the buttered 8×8 pan. It should spread out evenly on its own. Let the fudge fully cool before you cut it, at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Cut with a thin-bladed knife warmed in hot water and wiped dry. You may want to heat the knife between cuts. Makes 3 to 4 dozen 1-inch squares
Note: If you want to add fruit or nuts to the fudge, do so after you take it off the stove and before you pour the fudge into the 8×8 pan. Try adding all or any of: raisins, cranberries, chopped, drained cherries, peppermint candy crumbles, white chocolate, butterscotch or raspberry chips, chopped nuts of any sort, or warm a Tbls or two of peanut butter to a loose consistency and swirl through the fudge in a marble effect. (You can do the same with marshmallow fluff.)
Tip: You can double this recipe and use a 9X9 inch pan.
Tip 2: Substitute almond extract for the vanilla for an elegant taste.
CHOCOLATE FUDGE THE EASY WAY
Extra sweet, chocolate-y and rich
1 box (4 C) powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 C whole milk
1/2 C butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Place all ingredients into a large, microwave-safe bowl and stir to mix. Cover and microwave on medium until melted together (about 2 to 3 minutes), stirring once or twice to reduce hot spots. Remove from microwave and blend well with a wooden spoon. Pour into a buttered 8×8 inch or 9×9 inch pan and let cool at room temperature, about a half hour. Slice with a warm, thin knife, as noted above. Makes up to 3 to 4 dozen one-inch squares depending on pan used.
CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
If you like PB, this fudge is addictive; adapted from “Joy of Cooking”
1 C creamy peanut butter (Use store-bought, not homemade or “natural” style, which are very oily.)
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
4 C sifted confectioners’ sugar
Suggested additions (optional): white chocolate, butterscotch or chocolate chips,
Line an 8×8 or 9×9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with pan spray or coat with butter on bottom and sides. Leave extra foil on the sides to lift the fudge out.
Cut butter into slices or chunks. Place peanut butter and the cut butter together in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium-high and stir the mixture every minute or two until fully melted and smooth.
Take the bowl from the microwave and stir in the vanilla with a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon. (Add salt at this point if you like a salty and sweet fudge.) Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and stir until completely combined. Mix will be very thick, like a cookie dough. If you’re adding extras, fold them into the fudge while it’s still warm.
Press the candy into the prepared baking pan. Run the back of a large spoon over the top to smooth it out. The top may be a bit oily, but that’s natural. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and chill for at least 4 hours or until firm. Cut into pieces. Makes about 4 dozen 1-inch squares.
You can store fudge in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It can be frozen for up to two months. To thaw, place in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.