I had never actually made any kind of fudge until this year, on Christmas. Scott wanted me to make it for the family, because someone that he works with told him she does it for presents. I had heard that fudge was tough to make, so I opted for the marshmallow creme fudge which is supposed to be foolproof. And it was. It was easy and quick and made a great fudge that everyone liked.
Last week, as I was reading blogs, I saw that Love &Olive Oil has a challenge going on to make Old-Fashioned fudge. I was intrigued. I had no idea there was more than one kind of fudge. Since it snowed on Saturday, I decided to stay in and try and make the fudge.
I had all the ingredients in my house already:
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
All I had was skim milk, but I also had some heavy whipping cream. Instead of using whole milk, I substituted a half cup of each. I picked up a cheap candy thermometer at the store. I used a 3 quart saucepan. My set-up looked like this:
I read the directions:
1. Grease an 8×8 inch square baking pan. Set aside.
2. Combine sugar, cocoa and milk in a medium saucepan. Stir to blend, then bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer. Do not stir again.
3. Place candy thermometer in pan and cook until temperature reaches 238 degrees F(114 degrees C). If you are not using a thermometer, then cook until a drop of this mixture in a cup of cold water forms a soft ball. Feel the ball with your fingers to make sure it is the right consistency. It should flatten when pressed between your fingers.
4. Remove from heat. Add butter or margarine and vanilla extract. Beat with a wooden spoon until the fudge loses its sheen. Do not under beat.
5. Pour into prepared pan and let cool. Cut into about 60 squares. or 10.
I stirred until it came to a boil. Then, I turned the heat to low. It bubbled away for what seemed like forever.
I removed it from the heat. I stirred it, I poured it in the pan. I put it in the fridge to cool for 1 hour.
And it came out like this:
Fail! It was more like a taffy, or a tootsie roll. I threw the whole thing away. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I looked online and I started reading about old-fashioned fudge. I found out that an important step was left out of the recipe I followed. Everywhere I looked, it said you must cool the fudge down to 115 degrees Fahrenheit before beating the fudge. Then I went online and found the real Hershey’s recipe. This recipe used to be on the can, but you can now find it on the Hershey’s website.
I found out that the first recipe I followed was completely wrong. Here is the real recipe:
- 3 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa or HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Cocoa
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup(1/2 stick) butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Line 8-or 9-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Butter foil.
2. Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in heavy 4-quart saucepan; stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to full rolling boil. Boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 234°F on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water, forms a soft ball which flattens when removed from water. (Bulb of candy thermometer should not rest on bottom of saucepan.)
3. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR. Cool at room temperature to 110°F (lukewarm). Beat with wooden spoon until fudge thickens and just begins to lose some of its gloss. Quickly spread in prepared pan; cool completely. Cut into squares. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature. About 36 pieces or 1-3/4 pounds.
I read the directions. I started over. This time, when I boiled the fudge, it boiled over, but I was able to pour it in a larger pan.I looked at my candy thermometer and saw that it only goes down to 200 degrees. Since it was snowing, I did not want to go back out. I decided I would estimate the temperature. One of the comments said that it can take up to 2 and a half hours to cool down to 115 degrees. To be on the safe side, I waited an hour, then I started beating the fudge.
Holy moly! The fudge was so thick my spoon stood up in it on its own. I could see that the butter had failed to incorporate also, pooling around the edge. I stopped to take a picture of the failed attempt. Then, I put down my camera and went to dispose of the mess. As I turned it over, it started to change. It looked like this:
Honestly, it was hard, but it tasted chocolatey and I thought maybe we could still eat it. But I fed some to Scott and he said it was gross and tasted like chalk. So I threw it all away.
I decided to give this recipe one more shot. I re-read the recipe and the comments.
I read the footnote:
NOTE: For best results, do not double this recipe. This is one of our most requested recipes, but also one of our most difficult. The directions must be followed exactly. Beat too little and the fudge is too soft. Beat too long and it becomes hard and sugary.
Ok, so…I needed some decent equipment. First, I needed a decent candy thermometer. I got this one at kohl’s for $14.99.
Note that this one goes all the way down to 100 degrees. That is what you need. I also like this one because it has a real thermometer instead of the probe kind I originally had. And it has a guard on the bottom so that the bulb of the thermometer cannot rest on the bottom of the pan. I also needed to find a 4 quart saucepan. I was only able to find one, which was a saute pan, so I opted for a 3.5 quart one. It is about half an inch wider and an inch taller than my 3 quart saucepan. This time I also used a wooden spoon, because in the comments, it said that you have to use a wooden spoon, though no one knows why. And I got some whole milk.
I started over with my new set-up.
When I read comments on the recipe, it said to make sure the cocoa powder is free of lumps. Also, I added the milk to the cocoa powder and sugar gradually, about a half cup at a time, until it was incorporated.
Then, I followed the directions exactly.
First, I brought it to a boil over medium heat. This took about 25 minutes.
As soon as it came to a rolling boil, I turned the heat to LOW on my electric stove, which is the lowest setting. I simmered it to 234 degrees, which took 90 minutes. I did not stir or touch it during this time.
Next, I took the pan completely off the heat. I let it sit. At 45 minutes, it was at 130 degrees. I started stirring it because I was afraid it would harden as it did when I left it for an hour. I stirred it for about 10 minutes. It was really hard to stir. You definitely need a little elbow grease and muscles help. I don’t know if it really lost it’s sheen because it was still very glossy, but it started to look a little lighter, like a milk chocolate color. So I poured it into the pan. It looked and tasted just like hot fudge that you put on ice cream at this point.
About 20 minutes later, it started to set up. Success! I cut it into squares.
How exciting is that?
Now you need to make some and join the challenge. The right recipe is here. The kitchen will smell heavenly.
Thanks to Love & Olive Oil for the challenge!