Fudge is one of the weirdest culinary concoctions there is. Depending on your preferences it can be soft, chewy or crumbly, and the different flavor combinations are limited only by your imagination. I’ve been collecting fudge recipes for years, trying out every different kind I could find to add to my recipe book. I have my own favorites.
My Velveeta Peanut Butter Fudge is a real crowd pleaser, until people figure out its main ingredient! I also fell in love with Eggnog Fudge this year because I can’t drink the actual beverage without tummy issues! I love spicy Mexican Fudge or just plain old Chocolate Fudge. And my kids truly love a good No Bake Reese’s Fudge. We’ve never met a fudge we didn’t like!
So where does fudge come from?
Apparently fudge began some time in 1886 in Baltimore when a batch of caramel went wrong. In other words, the confectioner “fudged it.”
According to BonBonCandies.com, the first known sale was referred to in the archives of Vassar College in a letter written by Emelyn Battersby Hartridge when she discussed her schoolmate’s cousin selling it in a Baltimore grocery store for 40 cents per pound. In 1888, she asked for the recipe and made 30 pounds of fudge for the Vassar Senior Auction, which proved so popular that it spread to other colleges, leading to new takes on the original recipe.
What’s so special about fudge?
When it comes to candy-making, sugar crystals are an absolute no-no. But with fudge, this is a rare exception to the rule. Sugar crystals are what give fudge their texture, allowing the candy to feel firm and smooth, yet melt on your tongue.
The secret to the perfect fudge comes not from cooking it perfectly but from cooling it perfectly. Fudge needs to be allowed to cool undisturbed to 110° F before stirring, otherwise the sugar seed crystals will form too early, and they will attract to one another forming a gritty, crumbly fudge.
By letting your fudge cool down after cooking, only stirring once it has reached that magical 110° F and then stirring constantly until it becomes thick, you’ll have a smooth and delicious fudge that people will rave about.
What even IS fudge?
It’s easy to feel confused about what fudge is. Is it a candy? A cookie? Does it qualify as a baked good? Is it like a box of chocolates? Or something else entirely?
According to TASTE, fudge actually has more in common with marshmallows than anything else.
“Both marshmallows and fudge are whipped candies, made by boiling sugar syrup until all the water evaporates, continuing to cook the syrup […] to a specific stage, and then removing it from the heat and whipping it with a whisk as it cools. Fudge cooks to what’s called the “soft ball” stage, between 234 and 241 degrees. Whipping the syrup encourages the formation of sugar crystals, which give the candy its structure, but by shaking the candy around and folding in air, the crystals stay nice and small, giving the candy a creamy (rather than chunky) feel.”Source: https://www.tastecooking.com/what-is-fudge/
So realistically, fudge is basically a big thick nugget of sugar flavored with whatever delicious ingredients you happen to have on hand to add to it. NICE!
How long will fudge last?
Here’s the good news. Properly stored, fudge will last as long as a year in your freezer! So all that yummy and delicious fudge you make for Christmas this year can be served to friends and family next year, and no one will be the wiser!
To store your fudge, you’ll first want to cut it into easy portionable sizes, or at least chunks that can be portioned later. Wrap each piece in an airtight material like aluminum foil or Saran® wrap. And hey – like Dawn dish soap, brand matters here. Most other plastic wraps are NOT airtight, so go for Saran® brand if you want to be sure to protect your fudge properly against moisture or water vapor.
Once your fudge is wrapped, place the pieces, one portion at a time, into a plastic freezer bag. Remove as much air as you can before sealing the bag, and then place the whole thing in your freezer. Bada bing, bada boom. You’re good to go until you have your next fudge craving.
Remember that you should only remove as much fudge as you need at one time. That is why we have cut it into portions. Defrosting one at a time will ensure you get the best quality of fudge. In fact, the most important part of freezing is how you thaw.
When you are ready to eat your fudge, remove it from the freezer and keep it in the plastic bag. Removing it from the bag may allow moisture from the air to condense on the fudge, leaving it sticky and soft and more unappealing.
Let it sit in its wrapping inside the plastic bag at room temperature until completely thawed. Then, remove from its wrapping, take it out and enjoy!
How Do I Make Fudge?
Now if you’re ready to try your hand at making some delicious fudge of your own, I’ve got dozens of recipes for you to try. Just peruse the list below, choose your favorite and give it a try! Fudge is a pretty simple confection, and even when it occasionally goes wrong, it still tastes pretty amazing. Try it for yourself and start practicing for next year!