It’s a shore vacation indulgence, standing at the window of the Fudge Kitchen with the tantalizing bite of sample fudge melting on my tongue while we watch the man in the window stirring a huge copper kettle with a long wooden paddle. The fudge grows glossy and sleek while he paddles like it’s a class-4 stretch of whitewater rapids. He looks hot as he divides it into the pans waiting on the marble counter.
My husband leaned over to me, stealing a bite of my ice cream cone, "You should do that. It’d make a good gift for the kids’ teachers at Christmas." "Are you kidding me? Fudge is candy. Candy is hard."
And then the long twilights of summer were a dim memory and the year was hurtling to a close. Christmas. And the list of people to acknowledge seemed to grow every time I turned around. So I crossed my fingers and I made a batch of fudge.
Do you know what?
Come close and I’ll tell you a secret.
It’s quick. It’s easy. You don’t need special equipment. You don’t need exotic ingredients. But - and here is the key - most people don’t know this. Give someone a gift of fudge and they envision the hard work and time you put into it, and they are honored. So you must promise not to tell how incredibly easy it is to make.
Before you start preparing the chocolate, prepare the pan you’ll pour it into. Line an 8x8 square baking pan with foil and spray it with nonstick spray. Lining the pan with foil makes it easy to get the fudge out once it has set up.
Take 16 oz. of semisweet chocolate and break it into a medium-sized glass bowl. Make sure the pieces are all about the same size. Pour one 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk over the chocolate. Spray a spatula with nonstick and use it to get the last of the very sticky condensed milk out of the can.
Using these ingredients means that you don’t have to worry about adding sugar. Some recipes will call for evaporated milk and unsweetened chocolate and add the sweetener in the form of sifted icing sugar or powdered sugar. The drawback to this method is that even with sifting, the sugar has a tendency to clump.
Heat the bowl with the chocolate and condensed milk in the microwave on high for one minute. Remove it from the microwave and stir the mixture vigorously with a silicone spatula. Silicone spatulas are really the best choice for this task. They are flexible to get into the edges where a wooden spoon couldn’t, and don’t melt like the old plastic or rubber spatulas would.
If the mixture is still lumpy, heat it for another minute. Depending on the power of the microwave, this step will take two to three minutes. The mixture is done heating when it is smooth and glossy.
Add one teaspoon of vanilla, stir until smooth and glossy.
This is the step where you would add any add-ins - like nuts or marshmallows.
Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.
Refrigerate it covered for at least two to three hours or overnight. (If you don’t cover it, it can dry out and become crumbly and difficult to cut into neat squares.)
Remove it from the refrigerator, and pull on opposite edges of the foil. The fudge will pop right up. Lay it out on a cutting board and cut it into squares with a long, sharp knife. The fudge can be pretty solid, so make sure it’s a knife you can put some force onto.
I shoot for one-inch squares, but somehow I never get as many pieces as I expect.
Share and enjoy...
See? Wasn’t that easy? Now you’re ready to try more fudge recipes.
Now, share some and listen to them say, "Homemade fudge? Wow, you shouldn’t have."
Remember, just say, "You’re welcome." Don’t tell them how easy it was. Let’s keep that between us.
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