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Old 11-14-2004, 12:23 PM   #1
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Oh fudge!

Hello good people. I'm in search of fudge perfection and have tried (and failed) twice in the last two days with my latest recipe, Alton Brown's, as below:

2 3/4 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped, roasted nuts, optional

Grease an 8 by 8-inch pan with butter. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, chocolate, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter, half-and-half, and corn syrup. Over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved and chocolate is melted. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the cover and attach a candy thermometer to the pot. Cook until the thermometer reads 234 degrees F. Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter. Do not stir. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes or until it drops to 110 degrees F. Add vanilla and nuts, if desired, and mix until well-blended and the shiny texture becomes matte. Pour into the prepared pan. Let sit in cool dry area until firm. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Me again - The first time I made it, it turned out as a solid rock. I actually waited until it cooled to 110 before the final mixing, which took at least 30 minutes, but certainly no where near 10, by which time, it was a solid, unmovable mass.

The second time, I went in for the final stir after 10 minutes, while it was still quite hot. It was beautiful and creamy and starting to lose it's gloss until I added the vanilla and POOF, I kid you not, it turned to powder right before my eyes.

Sadly for me, my OCD is kicking in and when that happens, I'm like a dog with a bone. I have to get it right now!

Any suggestions? A better recipe?

Thank you kindly. :-)


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Old 11-14-2004, 04:09 PM   #2
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2 minute fudge:

1 lb powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter
1 cup nuts, chopped

In a 1 1/2 qt. casserole, stir sugar, cocoa, salt, milk and vanilla
together until partially blended (it will be too stiff to blend
thoroughly). Put butter over top in center of dish. Microwave at
high for 2 minutes, or until smooth. If all butter has not melted in
cooking, it will as mixture is stirred. Blend in nuts. Pour into a
lightly-buttered 8x4x3" dish. Chill 1 hour in refrigerator or 20 to
30 minutes in freezer. Cut into squares. Makes about 36 squares.

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Old 11-14-2004, 08:19 PM   #3
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I truly enjoy Alton Brown and thank the day I first discovered him! The things I have learned have been wide and wonderful. But I don’t think AB spends too much time making fudge. The recipe he has suggested is a close variation to what is considered “classic fudge” in that it is cream and butter-based. And knowing AB would likely explain perfectly well the importance of corn syrup to provide the glucose “check-mate” to refined sugar’s sucrose, he did not add nearly enough in this recipe to accomplish that goal.

Having said that, which I will back up with a thousand-time-tried-and-true classic fudge recipe and hopefully some helpful tips and techniques, I have a few questions to get out of the way first.

1. What’s your weather like? If the relative humidity is 60% or higher, don’t even consider making this fudge. You’ll need the more common additive of marshmallow crème to pull that one off up to a relative humidity of about 75%. Of course, juliev’s recipe based on confectioner’s sugar will work during a downpour, and with a completely different taste.

2. When did you last test your candy thermometer? While another post here somewhere by Michael (in Fort Worth) very clearly and concisely described how to calibrate commercial thermometers, you can get a darned close idea of how yours measures by placing your thermometer into a saucepan of boiling water – making certain the bulb/bottom does not touch the bottom or sides of the pan. We all know that water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a look at your thermometer – what does it read? I have several and of various ages and technologies, and every one of them reads differently, sometimes differently on different days…even my digital Poulder. So take that reading in boiling water. If it reads 214, you know your undercooking by 2 degrees if you don’t make a mental adjustment in the cooking process. Conversely, if it reads 211, you’re overcooking by one degree. Would so little of a temperature difference really matter? Beyond words, yes!

3. On the subject of crystallization, fudge is one of few candies that find crystal formation desireable, and are notably fondant, fudge and rock candy. And I’ve ordered the three on purpose, due to their target temperatures and, therefore, firmness. The three are actually very closely related. In fudge, you require crystallization, but you want those crystals as small as possible to give you creamy, instead of grainy fudge. So….when you cook your fudge, do you wipe down the sides of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush? When you begin to stir your fudge after cooling, are you scraping the sides of the pan entirely? It truly only takes one wee crystal to act as a seed and bring the entire mess to seizure, and these are the two most common ways crystals are (a) not removed to redissolve into the super-heated mixture; and (b) reintroduced into the cooled mixture before stirring.

4. AB’s recommended temperature is on the low end of the soft-ball scale for me. I always cook fudge to 236 degrees (F).

Personally, I believe the first time you tried this fudge, the weather was slightly too humid. It would never have taken you so long (30 minutes) to stir this fudge to begin setup otherwise.

The second time you made this, (a) the vanilla was added at the wrong time (should be added with butter immediately after removing from heat and before cooling, so that everything is at the same temperature at the same time when you begin stirring); and (b) the chocolate mixture was way too hot (you started stirring after 10 minutes?). When you stir a hot sugar mixture, which fudge is, the sucrose molecules from the granulated sugar will create huge, globby crystals that will seize in a heartbeat, which they obviously did. This is the very reason why fudge must be cooled before stirring.

By the way, note the use of the word “stirring” versus “beating”.

I love some OCD traits and have many myself (as many would have noted by now here…)! So I will do practically anything to encourage others to embrace the “old ways” of candy when possible…because the taste and texture is incomparable! (Of course, I wasn’t doing this much with young children, either!) So, please indulge me! I want you to test your thermometer, read this recipe and suggestions over several times, then give this recipe a whirl on a day when the humidity is LESS than 60%...then let me know how things went!

Classic Fudge

Yield: 36 or more pieces

This is a true cream-and-butter fudge, with more chocolate in it than is usual. The nuts can be omitted, if you wish. I store this in the refrigerator, but please let it come to room temperature before serving, as the fudge will have much better flavor if you do so. It also freezes nicely.

You'll need a candy thermometer, a pastry brush, a heat-resistant rubber spatula, and a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan and a 2-quart saucepan. If you are impatient about waiting for the fudge to cool (the way I am) you'll also need ice cubes and a pan that is longer, wider, and shallower than your 3 quart pot (I use a 15 by 11 by 2 inch baking pan).

Do not make this on a humid or rainy day.


3 cups granulated sugar
1-1/3 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup light corn syrup
Pinch salt
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, very finely chopped
3 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped, toasted, cooled pecans OR walnuts

If your candy thermometer is a clip-on type, adjust it so that the bulb rests just above the bottom of a heavy-bottomed 3-quart pot. Remove the thermometer from the 3-quart pot, and place it in a 2 quart pot filled about 3/4 full of cold water. Place the 2-quart pot over low heat on the back of the stove and let thermometer warm up gradually. If the water in the 2-quart pot begins to boil, shut off the heat, but leave the thermometer in the pot until you need it. Using unsalted butter in addition to that called for in the recipe, butter the sides of the 3 quart pot; set the buttered pot aside. Have ready a cup of very hot water.

In food processor fitted with steel blade, process sugar at highest speed in 3 "bursts" of about 15 to 20 seconds each until sugar is very fine-textured. (This step is optional, but it makes dissolving the sugar a much easier job.) Pour processed sugar into the 3-quart pot. Add cream, corn syrup, and salt. Set over low heat. Stir almost constantly with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved; mixture should not come to a boil during this process, which may take 8 to 10 minutes or more. Once or twice during this process, dip a pastry brush into the cup of very hot water, squeeze the brush almost dry, then wash down the sides of the 3-quart pot, starting from the top and working down to the surface of the sugar mixture. You'll have to dip the brush into the hot water several times to wash down the sides of the pot, but you want to get as little water as possible into the sugar mixture while doing so.

When the sugar is completely dissolved, increase the heat under the mixture to medium. Add the chocolate and stir often until it is melted and incorporated. Again, wash down the sides of the 3-quart pot as instructed above. Stir occasionally until mixture comes to a boil. Remove the thermometer from the pot of hot water, shake it off briefly, then place in boiling mixture, again making certain that the bulb rests just above the bottom of the pot.

Watch the boiling mixture especially carefully for the first few minutes, adjusting the heat to maintain a rolling boil, but not a spattering boil. I stir the boiling mixture every 2 to 3 minutes, alternately using my candy thermometer and a heat-resistant rubber spatula; when using the spatula, I scrape the lower sides of the pot as well as the bottom. The idea is to stir the fudge just often enough so that none of it sticks to the pot and burns. Boil the fudge until it reaches a temperature of 236 degrees F on the thermometer. Toward the end of the cooking period, wet a paper towel with hot water, then squeeze it almost dry. VERY CAREFULLY wipe down the tube of the thermometer until you can see the mark for 110 degrees --the thermometer and fudge will both be hot, but you'll need to see the 110-degree mark later. If you are going to use the ice and water, when fudge nears the end of its cooking period, fill the larger, shallower pan with about 1 inch of very cold water.

When the fudge reaches 236 degrees (F) on the thermometer, remove from heat. To use the ice and water cooling method, place the 3 quart pot into the very cold water, making sure none of the water gets into the fudge. Add the cold butter bits and vanilla, but do not stir in. Add 6 or 8 ice cubes carefully to the cold water, again making certain no water or ice gets into the fudge. If you are not using ice and water to cool this, remove fudge from heat when it reaches end temperature and place on pot holder or cooling rack. Add butter bits and vanilla but do not stir in. Whatever method you choose, the fudge should cool undisturbed until the temperature falls to 110 degrees F.

While the fudge cools, prepare the pan and utensils. Line an 8 inch square pan (at least 1-1/2 inches deep) with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. With soft butter, very lightly butter the foil. Butter a clean tablespoon or serving spoon (I use a metal spoon here) and a large, sturdy spatula. Have the nuts nearby.

When fudge has reached 110 degrees (F), remove from ice and water (if used), and place pot on dish towel or pot holder on a flat surface. Begin to stir/fold the fudge gently. This is a stiff mixture, and it will take a couple of minutes to incorporate the melted butter, but keep at it. Stir thoroughly, but it is not necessary to beat or to stir continuously. I take frequent breaks for 30 seconds or a minute at a time. Periodically, scrape the spoon, the pot bottom, and the pot sides no more than 1/3 of the way up from the bottom with the buttered spatula.

Continue stirring for approximately 15 to 20 minutes (and the drier the day, the quicker this will happen!). When the fudge is ready to pour out, you'll notice several changes. The fudge will stiffen slightly and begin to lose its gloss. It will "snap" with every stroke of the spoon, and you may feel it give off heat. Working quickly, stir in the nuts just until evenly distributed, and turn into prepared pan, scraping out the bottom of the pot and the sides no more than 1/3 of the way up from the bottom. If necessary, butter your hands lightly and press the fudge out to make an even layer in the pan. Cool completely before cutting.

To cut, lift out block of fudge, still in foil, from the pan. Peel back foil sides. Use a large, very sharp, heavy, straight-edged knife to cut the fudge into 36 or more pieces; it will be necessary to run the knife blade under hot, then cold, water, then dry it off, frequently, to keep the cuts neat. I wrap each piece individually in plastic wrap so it will not dry out. Store in refrigerator for up to several days or freeze for longer storage; allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Note: Occasionally, when I make this, after I've turned it into the 8 inch pan, a thin layer of butterfat will show up on the surface as the fudge cools. If this happens, just blot the butterfat up gently with a paper towel.

And remember while you are stirring/folding the fudge, that the reason why you are going through this effort is to prevent the crystals from forming large masses…each stir/fold is reducing their size!

Give this a whirl and let us know the results!
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is Optional.
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Old 11-14-2004, 10:38 PM   #4
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Audeo; I'm in awe of your fudge making prowess. I'd like to tate the stuff.

I have a fudge recipe, given to me by my MOL (a truly great woman) that has worked for me every time, in all seasons, in the super dry air of El Cajon, CA., the moist salt laden air of San Diego, and the moist summers and icy-dry winters of U/P. Michigan. I've let it slowly cool, put it out in sub-zero temps, and it has still never failed me. I've heated it in the micro-wave, in a double boiler, and over direct flame. Still comes out great with all three heat sources. This recipe will probably make a true fudge expert wince. But it is foolproof and deliscious. Here it is.

See's Fudge

Place in bowl:

3 pkgs of milk chocolate chips
1 pkg of mini-marshmallows
1 lb. Butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups walnuts

Boil 4-1/2 cups sugar with 1 can milk for nine minutes. Pour into fudge mixture and mix until everything is well blended. Pour into greased pan and cool.

There has been occasion when I didn't get all of the marshmallows incorporated into the fudge. During those times, I just threw the whole thing in the microwave and heated it for a minute or so. I finished mixing it then poured it into the pan for cooling.

You can also use buterscotch or white chocolate chips in this recipe.

I believe it works because of the corn syrup in the marshmallows. And the starch in those same marshmallows helps to smooth the texture.

Try it. It's a very easy recipe. Then you can modify it. I can't have any recipe from someone else that I don't modify in one way or another. Even if it's an incredible recipe, I am compelled to do something to it. I'm just a crazy man.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
“No amount of success outside the home can compensate for failure within the home…"

Check out my blog for the friendliest cooking instruction on the net. Go ahead. You know you want to.- http://gwnorthsfamilycookin.wordpress.com/
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Old 11-15-2004, 08:41 AM   #5
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Goodweed, darned fine fudge that makes! I love anything that is foolproof!

Looks like this recipe would make about 6-8 pounds, too!!! :twisted:
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Old 11-16-2004, 09:45 AM   #6
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Thanks Audeo! Those are some great tips on making classic fudge, which I will employ as soon as the humidity lowers.

On your questions, yes, the humidity has been high. I didn't even think of that. Now, I'm checking the weather every morning. :)

I will also check my new digital thermometer. What about altitude? Does that matter? I'm in Reno at 5000 feet, which I think qualifies for high altitude.

I'm looking forward to trying my hand at your recipe, with your tips, Audeo - thank you again.

Thanks also to Goodweed and Julie. If the weather doesn't cooperate soon, I'll give your recipes a whirl.
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Old 11-16-2004, 10:00 AM   #7
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Hummmmm. I did not know that humidity affected fudge.

My mother always made fudge in December [for the holidays], and here we always have the heat going strong it is so cold. We never had fudge at any other time of year. Maybe that is why she never had fudge failures.

Since she has been gone, no one has taken the time to make her holiday candies, but I am thinking about starting again.

One of these days, I will have to dig out her fudge recipe and check it out under varying conditions.
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Old 11-16-2004, 02:37 PM   #8
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Strawberry, your rather high altitude will have a profound effect on boiling temps! And depending upon your bariatric pressure of a given day, even more so.

My engineer/geek wonderful husband found this calculator some time ago for me to use once while trying to tied down any effects of bariatric pressure changes in candy, etc., and it's really specific. Try it out, I think you'll find it handy!


And choclatechef, I've already pegged you as an outstanding cook! OF COURSE you got those talents honestly from your mother!!!!! (Cold doesn't necessarily equate to humid, even if there is snow on the ground...it all depends upon the amount of water suspended in the air. Sometimes, my indoor environment -- due to the heater -- can be as much as 15% less than outdoors.)
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Old 11-16-2004, 03:34 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Audeo
And choclatechef, I've already pegged you as an outstanding cook! OF COURSE you got those talents honestly from your mother!!!!! (Cold doesn't necessarily equate to humid, even if there is snow on the ground...it all depends upon the amount of water suspended in the air. Sometimes, my indoor environment -- due to the heater -- can be as much as 15% less than outdoors.)
You are sooo sweet. I will endeavor to live up to your high expectations and my mother's training.

What I was thinking as far as cold and humidity were concerned is, that my family kept the house very very warm inside the house in cold weather. They kept the thermostat set at about 78 to 80 degrees. I think a great deal of dry heat made the humidity go down in the house; during fudge making time. At least that is my thinking.
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Old 11-17-2004, 08:36 AM   #10
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I too love fudge. I found one the other day that was so easy and really tasty.

2 cup of semi sweet choc chips
1 cup of milk chocolate chips
Can of condensed milk
4 tablespoons of butter
1 tsp of vanilla flavoring

Melt till smooth, first three ingrediants over low heat. Remove, add one tablespoon of butter and mix well before adding the next tbsp. Pour into a greased cake/casserole pan. Let it cool to room temperature.

I like this recipe as it is not as sweet as some. I personally love the fantasy fudge but dh and family loves this one.

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