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Help with Chocolate Fudge Recipe (crystallized/traditional)

I had never made fudge before and looked up a chocolate recipe online (choc. chips, can sweetened condensed milk, butter, salt). While it was good, it was nothing like what I think ‘fudge’ is; this was more like truffle filling.

What I want I think is what might be considered "traditional" style, with a texture that shears apart if you break the piece (like crystallized a little) but still melts in your mouth when you eat it. The only other recipes I can find either have marshmallow or corn syrup in them; I've ruled out the marshmallow recipes and the corn syrup recipes seem to be right--except I can't eat corn (!). Would it be possible to just substitute normal sugar for the corn syrup (and how much proportion-wise)?

Here’s the recipe I was going to try.
2 Tbsp sweet butter
3 Tbsp GOOD cocoa powder
2 c sugar
2/3 c milk
3 oz GOOD semisweet chocolate
2 Tbsp light corn syrup

(This is a heat to soft ball stage (236 deg.), cool to 120 deg., and stir like crazy method of preparation.)

Also, would I be able to adjust the cocoa powder/sugar with more semisweet chocolate? I have a lot of 70% chocolate bittersweet chips that I would like to use… or would this be messing with the recipe too much?

ps – Wiping the insides of the pan down with cold water to get rid of potential sugar crystals; how necessary is this? How often do you need to do this while waiting for the soft ball temp?


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  1. hi, for such a small quantity of corn syrup, I have successfully used Golden Syrup in equal quantity with good results. There is a brand called Lyle's, and mine is Roger's. Have you seen these before?

    1. My father made the type of fudge you describe every Christmas. Since he died I have missed that fudge! Maybe this is the year I'll try to recreate it. Anyway his recipe:

      2/3 c cocoa
      3 c sugar
      1/8 tsp salt
      1 1/2 c milk
      1/4 c butter
      1 tsp vanilla

      Combine cocoa, sugar and salt in 3 qt pan. Add milk gradually. Mix thoroughly. Bring to bubbly boil on highish heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil without stirring until 232 degrees, or soft ball stage. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR. Allow to cool to 110 degrees. Beat until it thickens and loses some of its gloss. Pour quickly into lightly greased 8 x8 pan. Cool completely.

      If you try it, let me know if it was the right recipe for you.

      4 Replies
      1. re: mirage

        I have also been looking for this traditional recipe. I just finished making and testing a batch. It is absolutely delicious!!! It melts in your mouth. I think the key to this type of fudge is the use of cocoa powder rather than chocolate. Thank You!!!!

        1. re: Sassy2u

          I'm so glad you made it! I WILL make it this year. My father made this for me every year for as long as I can remember, until he died. I have such fond memories of him making pounds of the stuff each year. I don't like any other fudge, really, but this one! But I love this one!

          1. re: mirage

            Well he definately had the best recipe. I only like this kind too!!! Thank you so much for posting it. It will be a favorite of my family now! Happy Holidays!!

        2. re: mirage

          Hi. When I add the butter and vanilla - do I stir then? Also does this setup fairly hard without refrigation.

          My wife and I have been trying for days to make pralines and fudge and get it to set up on the kitchen table - so it won't have to be refrigerated. So far we've only been partially sucessful - should we add cream of tartar or caro syrup and what would that do?


        3. I've never made fudge either. But I made a batch successfully with a epicurious recipe. It was for chocolate walnut fudget. It didn't call for corn syrup, instead it was just chocolate, butter, sugar, and non-fat evaporated milk (with other flvorings like vanilla and espresso powder).

          You can search for it on epicurious.com but I think the results is what you describe. The sugar and evaporated milk are boiled until they reached 234 (which by the way I used a digital thermometer with no ill effect). Then combined with chopped chocolate, butter and the espresso powder. Everything is mixed until combined and stir in the walnuts.

          1. Here is my recipe, which I also listed in another post on fudge. It does not have corn syrup. Cook it slowly, don't burn it. Don't immediately stir the butter and vanilla in.

            Chocolate Fudge

            1 cup light cream
            4 ounces semisweet chocolate -- chopped
            2 cups sugar
            1/2 tsp. salt
            2 TBS unsalted butter
            1 tsp. vanilla
            8 ounces walnuts or pecans, chopped. Nuts are optional but I love them, and I usually toast them first.

            1. Combine the cream, chocolate and sugar in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.

            2. Add the salt and let the mixture come to a boil.

            3. Turn down the heat to very low and cook without stirring until the mixture reaches the soft- ball stage, 236ºF on a candy thermometer.

            4. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter and vanilla, but DO NOT STIR.

            5. Let the mixture cool until lukewarm (110 degrees). Then beat the fudge with a wooden spoon until creamy. Add the nuts and mix well.

            6. Transfer the fudge to a buttered 8" square baking pan. Cover and chill. When firm, cut into squares.

            1. Glad I stubbed into your post, as I'm sitting hear enjoying my corn-free fudge-lol. I am severely allergic to corn & all its derivatives, to the point I have to carry an epi pen. The recipe you have is pretty good, minus the corn syrup of course. The one I use is from a 1930's cookbook, plus some techniques I've picked up along the way:

              2 cups sugar
              1/3 cup evaporated milk + 1/3 cup water (or 2/3 cup milk)
              2 squares baking chocolate
              1/8 teaspoon salt
              2 TBSP corn syrup substitute (***see below)
              2 tablespoons butter
              1 teaspoon vanilla (corn free- I make my own with potato vodka & vanilla beans)
              1/2-3/4 cup walnuts or pecans, if desired

              Place sugar, milk, chocolate, & salt in a 2-3 quart sauce pan. Stir over medium heat until sugar is melted, once it boils, cover for 1-2 minutes (to steam the sides of the pan). Insert thermometer, but do not stir once uncovered; cook to soft ball stage (238F). Carefully remove from heat & lay slices of butter carefully on top of the the hot fudge mixture (helps keep top from forming a coat while cooling). Allow to cool to 110F, without stirring, and then add 1 teaspoon vanilla (I add both my own vanilla extract & ground vanilla beans). Stir with wooden spoon until no longer glossy, add chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans, if desired, just before transferring into well buttered 8"x8" pan.

              ***The recipe didn't originally call for any corn syrup or anything to help prevent over crystallization, which can happen. The easiest way to get around this is to add 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar to the sugar mixture, before heating, but the one time I tried that, it seemed like it affected the milk, or else the cream of tartar just wasn't dissolving very well. But considering I use it in all my batches of marshmallows, I'd go for the cream of tartar being an acid + milk = not such a good thing- I'd used brown sugar w/chocolate and it seemed like there was a slightly off taste in the background, not that the fudge went to waste or anything. Now to be safe, I just add a couple tablespoons of fake corn syrup, using this recipe: http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1823,1...
              Its nice to keep on hand for sweets too in a corn free household, though fudge is where most of mine gets used.

              You can make a brown sugar fudge, which they call penuche (sp?), by substituting brown sugar for the white. Of course you can make an Opera Fudge, or white fudge, by omitting the chocolate. For peanut butter fudge, stir in 1/2 cup or so peanut butter when you add the vanilla after the fudge mixture cools to 110F. You can make a really decadent fudge by using brown sugar & chocolate & peanut butter! There are tons of other flavor combinations you can come up, if you need any ideas, check any of the websites from the various Mackinaw Island fudge companies (just don't drool too much on your keyboard). As for your extra semisweet chocolate chips, you could stir it into your chocolate fudge as you would nuts....hmmm, using cocoa powder + baking chocolate in the sugar syrup + chunks of whole chocolate stirred in would make for a triple chocolate fudge- sounds good to me! It would also be go in a peanut butter fudge, sort of the opposite of a peanut butter cup.

              1. OK! (Thanks for all the responses.) Here's what I did:

                I went with the recipe from Trishuntrapped because I would be able to use my semi-sweet chocolate and not have to go to the store for a corn syrup substitute/pwd. cocoa. I made one (cough) adjustment in that I used half & half (hope this is okay! I just had it on hand). Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly.

                What surprised me is how long it took to hit soft ball stage (I probably let it go to 237 deg because my thermometer says 240 is soft ball, half the recipes I see call for anything from 232 to 236...). Also, I couldn't clip the thermometer to my pan because the clip would obscure the 230s so I held it in the middle of the pan, in the middle of the liquid. I noticed a little temp variation as I drifted one way or the other but for the most part I think the entire pan was fairly consistent (it's a 2.5mm thick copper pan so it tends to distribute temp fairly well). I chucked in the blob of butter and vanilla when I removed from the heat but I see from anniemax's post that the butter is for covering the top of the chocolate as it cools; hopefully I didn't make things hard on myself.

                Anyway, it's cooling now and I'll post the final results as soon as I can. (ps - My husband is poking at it a little and says the consistency (at ~180deg) is sort of like caramel. Yipes I hope that sounds right!)

                5 Replies
                1. re: TimeMachine

                  Now it's finished and tasted. It's a bit crumbly (on the edges) but I think this has to do with my not getting it into the baking pan in time. Tastes pretty darned good and the consistency is very fudgey. It definitely has the crystallized structure but it is not grainy at all.

                  We started stirring it once it hit 110deg and both of were thinking it would never work because it was just so gooey and hard to deal with. We took turns until both arms hurt and then all of a sudden it just turned opaque. Joshua gave it a couple more swipes with the spoon and we tried to dump it into the pan. It was just one large chunk and we had to use tools to get it all out of the cooking pot. Then I mashed it down into the pan with my hands. We both were shocked at how fast it set; I don't know how people manage to get nuts mixed in there in time.

                  The only thing is that it is a little thin; meaning, I have it in a 9" square pan and when I cut it into 1" pieces, they are not 1" tall (oh woe!). So I might make a 1.5 batch next time.

                  1. re: TimeMachine

                    How to get it into the pan? Lots of experience watching them making fudge on Mackinaw island!- if you could only see how they work the 30-40 pound batch on the marble slabs and get it formed into the perfect shape each time so that each slice is nearly 1/2 pound on the nose. I made a triple batch the other night and didn't calculate how much it would boil up- Ops! Caught it quickly enough (thank goodness the cover was on at that point), switched to what I assumed was a much larger pot, which turned out to be only 1/2 quart larger...good thing the cover was on again. At this point, I figure I've probably ruined it by cooling it back down once, by might as well give it another shot, so off it goes into the closest 5 quart pot, which thankfully was plenty big enough since I couldn't find the cover this time. It was getting really late by the time it cooled down to 110F and stirring in a stock pot doesn't work well- half way through I dumped it into my Kitchen Aid's 5qt stainless steal bowl with a handle, which worked much better. I panned it into 3 small rectangular glass baking pans, adding the toasted walnuts to 2 pans and peanut butter to the 3rd one on a whim. I used a stiff plastic spatula to do the mixing in the pans, much like the big paddles they use in the fudge shops- its more like kneading or folding in, then mixing, per se. Even with all my mistakes, it came out great, especially the peanut butter pan....maybe a little too good since it disappeared so quickly.

                    As for the fudge being a little crumbly on the edges, it could have been the lack of an invert sugar in the form of corn syrup or cream of tartar. You could even make a small batch of it with lemon or lime juice, as long as the taste wasn't too strong- and you're only using a couple TBSP's of the invert syrup anyways. Also, your husband poking at while it was cooling- I know its hard to not check on it, but it really needs to be left along to not screw up the sugar crystal formation or send it into overdrive. I've been using my remote digital thermometer so I can monitor the temperature from where ever I am in the house- it helps keep me from poking at too, lol. As for the butter on top, that was something Alton Brown did on Good Eats, and it does seem to help the top not get icky while it cools.

                    Now that you've concurred fudge, let me know when you're ready to make corn free marshmallows. The part may be finding corn free confectioners sugar to coat the outsides in your area of the country- lucky I live very close to the only plant that makes confectioners sugar with wheat starch instead. If all else fails, you can make a pretty good homemade version in your blender or food processor. Let me tell you, corn free chocolate marshmallows are heavenly...as were the pumpkin spice, black currant, vanilla bean, apple butter spice, etc. And let's not forget the rice crispy treats- such a simple thing, but such a wondrous thing when its corn free.

                    1. re: anniemax

                      I would love a recipe/instructions for corn-free marshmallows. I am intolerant, not allergic like you, but still have to be pretty vigilant about ingredient-reading or else I'll ruin my day. I have NEVER seen a marshmallow out there that did not contain corn syrup--even the fancy schmancy individually wrapped gourmet types you see in high-end groceries. I have also looked everywhere for confectioner's sugar and never found a corn-free version; I just blend my own (but it never gets fine enough--always a bit gritty--and my poor blender always sounds like it is about to die by the end of it, not to mention the entire apartment begins to smell like ozone). What is the brand of wheat-starch sugar? I really used to love rice krispy treats! The pumpkin spice marshmallows sound awesome.

                      Anyway, I am also going to make the peanut butter fudge (my personal favorite flavor). My grandmother used to make a simple kind and it was freaking awesome. She never used a thermometer but would take a little spoonful and whip it up against the side of a ceramic dish to test for consistency. Somehow she died without anyone managing to get the recipe from her (and I was too young to pester her for it myself). So I did a bunch of internetting and came up with the following recipe, which sounds about like what she used:
                      1 1/3 c milk
                      2 lbs brown sugar
                      1/4 c butter
                      1 1/2 c peanut butter
                      1 tspn vanilla extract
                      ** combine milk & sugar and do the soft-ball routine; add remaining ingredients and mix evenly before pouring into the dish to set.

                      (It makes a 9x13" pan's worth, by the way.) This recipe doesn't say anything about letting it cool to 110deg, but just to remove from heat, add the other ingredients, mix and pour to pan (quickly). Do you think the peanut butter makes the consistency be 'right' somehow or do you think it will turn out weird (gluey) if I don't cool/stir? I'm gathering from your recipe, you wait for 110deg and stir like crazy.

                  2. re: TimeMachine


                    I think you deserve big kudos! Fudge can be tempermental, and your first effort here was very very good. I use an 8 inch pan, it's a bit smaller and works pretty well, of course you can make more fudge and that will work too. You can also put a layer of peanut butter fudge over it and wow...a nice double decker fudge...

                    As for the edges...I don't know about cream of tartar as suggested because I don't know the science behind it to know if that would work...worth exploring maybe...

                    You might also want to cook it not quite to 237....232 may work better.... And yes, definitely no poking when the butter and vanilla are melting on top. I never really knew the reason why the recipe called for this...Thanks to the poster for clarifying that it was to prevent skin. One time when I stirred it in too soon the fudge was a mess, that's how I learned.

                    Good luck with your trials!!

                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                      So I made peanut butter fudge with the above recipe I mentioned and it didn't turn out. The recipe said to boil the sugar and milk to soft ball (I went to 236-237 degrees), then add the remaining ingredients (peanut butter, butter, vanilla) and stir until it 'sets.'

                      I did this and began to stir. And stir. And half an hour later we had traded back on and off a million times and were still stirring and it still wasn't dull. So we continued until we couldn't hold the pan still anymore and transferred it to the dish and stirred it in the baking dish with smaller spoons (smaller area to stir) and kept at it until it was pretty much cold. Smoothed it out and chilled it in the refrigerator for a few hours. We just checked it and it still is the same consistency as it was when we stopped stirring. Grainy and soft so that it won't really cut into pieces.

                      Now I have a huge mass of the stuff that is sort of an experimental disaster. I can't send it as gifts and I'm not supposed to even be eating peanuts for the next few months! (I had to taste it a little though..) Argh.

                      Did I not heat it high enough? Or stir it too much? Or stir it too soon (the recipe said to begin stirring immediately but the chocolate fudge recipes all say to wait to touch it until it hits 110-120 degrees)? (I guess I found the temperamental type fudge.)