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Double Boiler tips?

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Ok... I bought a double boiler this year, finally, to use in making fudge. I've been doing it for a couple of years but it's a real struggle to do it in a regular pan.

The problem is, I don't really know how to use a double boiler... I've tried this and tried that, but I can't get the temperature of my mixture to rise above 200 degrees fahrenheit, and I need to hit the 235-245 range. I'm not sure exactly what I'm doing wrong, no matter how high I set the heat on my stove, it won't get hotter than that, and it's a gas stove, it's not like it's not putting out enough heat...

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  1. A double boiler depends on water for the delicate transfer of heat, and as water boils at 212, you will never get above that temperature.

    You may need to use a flame-tamer and a thicker bottomed pot to get the required temps for your recipe to make fudge. I have never heard of using a double boiler for fudge, but recipes can vary.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kelli2006

      Hmm... I guess I'm just confused then... All the recipes I've seen for fudge said to either use a double boiler or improvise one... And any time I try to make it with direct heat it scorches.

      What do you normally use to heat sugar to candy temperature ranges without scorching it if a double boiler won't get it above 212?

    2. Pericles, I have never used a double boiler to make fudge. Most fudge recipe call for sugar to be brought to the soft-ball stage(230-240), and that is easily achieved via direct heat and a thick-bottomed pot.

      What kind of stove, and pans do you have? You might want to consider using lower heat and a flame tamer to prevent scorching of the sugar.

      If you could post your recipe I could possibly offer you more suggestions. I hope this helps.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Kelli2006

        Sounds like patience is required here not a double boiler. Keep the heat med-low and use a thermometer. If you gas it, it'll burn! Don't turn the heat on and walk away for 30 minutes either. Aside from that, I also agree with Kelli2006; find a good solid pot.

      2. You might actually get above 212° F., though not by much, if the top makes a really tight seal so you get steam under pressure. But I agree with the other posters, you'll do better with slow direct heat, an accurate thermometer, and close attention.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rootlesscosmo

          And you'll avoid a really nasty steam burn when you separate the two parts.

        2. Making real fudge is an experiment in basic chemistry. Water boils at 212 degrees and freezes at 32 at sea level. When you introduce salt (sugar is a salt) the melting and boiling point changes. Folks making Ice Cream the old way put salt on the ice around the freezer to get the ice to melt at at temperature less than 32 to get the Ice Cream mixture to freeze harder, and folks living in the frozen north use salt to melt the ice on their steps.
          When you add sugar to the milk and other ingredients in the fudge mixture the boiling point is higher than 212, and as the water boils away, the boiling point gets higher without pressure, eventually reaching the soft or hard ball stage that the recipe calls for. Then, when it cools, it will freeze (harden and crystalize) well above 32 degrees. That's what makes the fudge happen.
          Cook slowly over a medium-low heat, stirring constantly if you want to avoid scorching.
          Made properly, simple old-fashioned fudge can't be beat for delectability

          1. I wish I would have read this before I just purchased a double boiler. I, too, make fudge from a recipe that says to use a double boiler, but last night it was boiling for 1.5 hours but the fudge mixture did not budge. What I finally did was dump the hot liquid into my pan with the thick base and finished it.

            The good news is that it only took 10 minutes, rather than the usual 20. AND I had let it sit awhile first as I was watching the Discovery channel. SO I'm thinking that if I transfer it good and hot, it may only take a few minutes to get to soft ball. Beats 20 minutes of arm breaking stirring!!