What am I doing wrong? I want FUDGE!

I am a little irked. Okay, maybe a lot irked. That was four batches of fudge down the drain. I wasted tons of ingredients and time on this stuff. And I still have a craving for it!

Batch number one:

I start out eager, hopeful and blushingly optimistic. I get out my nice heavy-bottomed pot and my new spatula (able to withstand the heat of the sun! Yerrrow!). I even take the time to calibrate my dial candy thermometer in some boiling water, with which I later make strawberry tea. I sip my tea and then:

Melt four ounces of unsweetened chocolate in one-and-a-quarter cups skim milk over medium heat. Add three cups of sugar and two tablespoons of corn syrup, turn the heat to high.

Wow! That sure was quick. The temperature soared to 236 degrees Fahrenheit right away. I pulled the pot from the heat and placed it in an icewater bath. Belatedly I add half a stick of butter. I kept an eye on the temperature, and when it lowered to 115, I put my spatula in the mixture and stirred.

Soup. I had made soup. Okay, I have faced failure before in many guises, I will just have to try again. I poured the stuff down the drain.

Batch number two:

I bought another thermometer. I like this one, it’s a glass tube like my mother always used. In fact, I had one just like it, but it broke after cooling down from a batch of divinity. The divinity turned out…divine…so I thought this kind of thermometer would be better.

A little less optimistic this time, a little more determined, I take out another heavy-bottomed pan and use my less favorite blue plastic spoon. I test the thermometer on another pan of boiling water and make chai with the water. I sip the tea, and then:

Melt four ounces of unsweetened chocolate in one-and-a-quarter cups skim milk over medium heat. Add three cups of sugar and two tablespoons of corn syrup, turn the heat to high.

Okay, it’s taking a little longer this time. That’s good, very good. Oh, what’s that smell? Gosh, I hope it’s not burning! Off the stove, into the icewater, time to cool. Promptly added the butter this time. Damn, the chai is cold. Tastes good anyway.

115 degrees, add the half teaspoon vanilla, use a hand mixer to beat it. Seems…sticky. Maybe it will set up in the refrigerator.

It set. It’s caramel. Why the hell is it caramel? Maybe I didn’t cook it to the right temperature. The internet says that caramel begins at 145 degrees.

I don’t want caramel, I want fudge. I am going to make fudge, damnit!

Batch number three:

Okay, scrap that stupid recipe. Scrap that awful caramel. I’m going to do it the old fashioned way, with chocolate chips and condensed milk, which means another trip to the grocery store. I think I’ll try bourbon fudge this time, I really liked it when I bought it at that cute little fudge shop in Madison.

Put two cups of chocolate chips in a bowl with a can of condensed milk. Condensed milk is Borden, chips are Ghirardelli! What could go wrong with Ghirardelli chips, mmm! Microwave three minutes, stir, add a quarter cup of bourbon and a half teaspoon of orange extract. Huh, the liquid is sitting on top of the chocolate stuff. Guess I’ll just have to stir more. Pour it over nuts in a buttered pan. Into the refrigerator with you, you tasty stuff!

Two hours later, and it’s a messy goop. Two hours after that and the goop hasn’t changed. It’s sitting there, staring at me, saying that it used to be Ghirardelli before I did such horrible things to it.

Into the trash bin with you, you horrible goop.

Batch number four:

Maybe I’ve made a mistake. Maybe the original recipe wasn’t all that bad. Maybe I’m the one who is faulty. I can change, just give me a chance!

I’ve got four thermometers. I take them all out and set them in a row, and boil some water. Each registers between 210 and 215 degrees. I use the water to make some black tea and think furiously. I calm my mounting hysteria and set to work.

I use the same recipe and measure precisely. Three cups of sugar and not a grain more. One and a quarter cups of milk, and not a drop more. I use all the instruments to check the temperature, and when they register between 235 and 240 I take the pot off the stove and set it in a sink of cool water (maybe the icewater was too shocking for the poor fragile stuff). The butter goes in right away. I use the paddle on my KitchenAid mixer (bringing out the big guns!) to mix it for about four minutes.

I pour it in the pan. It looks like caramel to me. I avert my eyes, say a good luck charm, and gently place the pan into the bottom of my refrigerator, where it will cool undisturbed over the crisper drawer. I throw out my tea, which has gotten cold and gross.

Four hours later. Caramel. Better tasting caramel than last time, but still caramel.


Into the bin it goes, and yours truly heads for the couch, where she flops down and pouts until she decides to ask her doper friends where she went wrong.

Help? Please? I can’t go through life like this, knowing I’ve failed where many others have blithely succeeded.

Just checking: you are using regular (pure) cane sugar, right? Because they also sell some packages that look almost the same but contain a mix of sucrose and something else and that mix will NOT set up properly in candy recipes, though it’s okay for baking. I once had three batches of sugared walnuts fail, bing bing bing, and for a recipe with only thee ingredients and about a five minute cooking time, that’s pretty amazing.

As for the failure of the choc. chip batch: you didn’t buy evaporated milk instead of sweetened condensed by accident, did you? But that extra quarter cup of liquid will definitely screw up the recipe all by itself. Chocolate reacts poorly to added water (and even high octane booze contains a lot of water.)

As a last resort you could buy some fudge from the store. It may not be as good as homemade stuff, but it’s better than goop, right?

What was the weather like when you were making fudge? I’ve noticed when it’s raining, fudge often won’t harden and will remain soupy (or goopy).

Ack, someone beat me to it. I never have much luck with regular fudge in the summer…something about the humidity makes it either mud or soup every time.

However, I make fairly decent “dump fudge” with powdered sugar, a stick of butter, some cocoa, a bit of milk and a dash of vanilla (i don’t like nuts). You just dump it all in a bowl and microwave it. It gets hard just fine, summer or winter.

Yes, pure cane sugar. Yes, sweetened condensed milk. No, no rain.

I am not going to resort to the store-bought stuff! I will be victorious!

Here’s an article on the physical chemistry of making fudge.

Wow, that link to the scientific properties of fudge-making was informative. I honestly don’t know why your fudge isn’t turning out right, but am going to suggest that you follow the quick fudge recipe found on jars of Marshmallow Fluff. Yes, that’s right, Marshmallow Fluff - that stuff that you can use to make the Fluffer-nutter (marshmallow fluff and peanut butter) sandwich with. I’ve had it and it’s fairly decent fudge. Not quite the same as made-from-scratch, but nearly fool-proof to make.

Good luck!

I’m a diehard Marshmallow Fluff fudge-maker myself, but I’m thinking maybe you shouldn’t cook it over high heat? This recipe (chocolate fudge - scroll down) calls for low heat. Also, if you dump cold liquid on hot melted chocolate, the chocolate will “seize” unless you reheat it all together and stir until smooth.

If you want fudge, come to Mackinac Island, Michigan.

It has about a bajillion fudge shops on the main street.

I’ve never been fond of the stuff but it sure smells good.

This stuff has never failed me:

5 Minute Fudge:

2/3 C evaporated milk
1 2/3 C sugar
dash salt
1 1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 C minature marshmallows
1 Tsp vanilla
1/2 C chopped nuts (if desired)

Put milk, sugar, and salt in heavy saucepan. Bring to boil over med high heat. Boil and stir constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add chips. marshmallows, vanilla, and nuts. Stir until well combined. Pour into butterd 9" square pan. Cool until set.

Okay, this recipe looks very good. I will try it with cream, maybe my problem was the skim milk :confused: Maybe I will try the second recipe as well. I just don’t like marshmallow fluff in my fudge, it never tastes as good to me.

Interesting stuff on the chemistry of fudge.

Maybe I will just give up and order it from the Madison shop here . Truly the best bourbon fudge EVAR.

Condensed milk and chocolate is almost no-fail. I use it to make truffles and they always turn out fab, plus you can mix in anything you want- nuts, candied ginger, skor bars, etc. Check out this recipe

Also, the waste of all of that unset chocolate fudge really doesn’t sit well with me either. That stuff is too expensive to waste… it’s just obscene to throw it out. It’s still perfectly usable just think laterally. Pack it up in tupperware or jars and use it for ice cream, or icing for a cake, or fruit dip, or something! For the love of Pete, don’t waste food like this!

This honestly surprises me. I have this fudge recipe that sounds a lot like Cheez_Whia’s except for the nuts. I’ve made it under a variety of circumstances, and only ruined it a time or two because I screwed up the ingredients. It’s also pretty forgiving – I’ve never resorted to thermometers, and as long as I let it cool to close to room temperature before sticking it in the fridge, it sets nicely with no crystallization.

I’d recommend a dash of cinnamon in with the chocolate when you’re mixing it up, not enough so it smells cinnamony, but just enough so it gives the chocolate some kick. (Provided you’re ok with cinnamon, a’course)

What I do for fudge:

2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
big spoonful of cocoa powder
1/4-1/2 stick butter
big spoonful of peanut butter

Plate, lightly buttered with additional butter.
Put sugar in the pan, add cocoa. Mix well. Add milk, mix well again, add butter.

Bring to boil over medium heat, avoiding stirring as much as possible. Test occasionally by dripping some into a cold cup of water - when it reaches the “soft ball” stage (it can be formed into a soft ball after being dripped into the water), it’s ready.
Have spoon of peanut butter ready, along with cold water in the sink (below the height of the pan). Remove pan from heat, set in water, begin stirring in peanut butter (it will melt into the fudge). Once it begins to get stiff, pour onto plate, allow to cool if you can. Cut and serve.

Stop making tea :smiley:

Anyway, I’ve never made fudge with chocolate; I always use cocoa which seems to give a much firmer fudge.

devilsknew, I know it’s wasteful to throw it out. But I didn’t want to eat it, my husband didn’t want to eat it, the kitties didn’t want it and it would have poisoned the dog. Rather than have it sit around in the bottom of my fridge until it turned white and moldy, I threw it out. Sometimes you just have to throw things out.

Lumpy, I shall never stop making tea :stuck_out_tongue: But the second try after next will be with cocoa.

Lizardling, cinnamon sounds yummy. I may try that.

Lsura, I thought that you shouldn’t stir the chocolate after taking it off the heat because it crystalizes. Doesn’t your fudge get grainy when you do that? But good idea with the peanut butter.

I’ve never made fudge, but the librarian here at work makes a big batch every Christmas. People claw and maim each other in their rush to eat it, because it’s so good. It’s always tender and slightly soft - never grainy, dry or crystally. She finally revealed her recipe: it’s the See’s Candy original fudge recipe. I read it, and it looks like you don’t have to worry about temperature or anything, but it does include a jar of marshmallow stuff. I don’t taste the marshmallow in the final product, just soft, fudgy, chocolately goodness.

It will crystalize when you stir it if you get any more sugar in it.