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Need Fudge Making equipment recommendations

please...

I have a fudge recipe from years ago, off the back of a Hershey's cocoa can. I've run into problems making it in the past and wonder if it's the type of pan... so I'm looking for a recommendations for a heavy pot.

I tried a le Creuset dutch oven and I think maybe my thermometer was faulty as the porcelain actually burned off.

Assuming I'm correct that the thermometer was broken, and assuming I buy a new thermometer (and check it before using it).... I still need a pot. Before I go buy another le Creuset, I thought I'd ask some experts if this is the right sort of pan... I'm wondering if I should not use a pan that has a coating... .

Thoughts and suggestions much appreciated!

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  1. If you're using a heavy bottomed pot (LC would certainly fit that bill!) and an accurate thermometer that's all you should ever need. The other things to consider are:

    • picking a day when the humidity is low,
    • using a brush dipped in hot water to "wash" the sides of the pot so you don't get premature crystallization,
    • watching the temperature and NOT stirring until you reach the appropriate cooling temperature.

    When it's time to stir, make sure you've got one or more pair of strong backup arms for stirring. The fudge will get very thick and hard to stir as it cools and you want to continue stirring as long and as hard as possible to get tiny, smooth sugar crystals. Unfortunately, there's no piece of equipment to fill in for this step.

    Good for you to learn to make the authentic thing! Don't be discouraged. Your patience and effort WILL be paid back!

    8 Replies
    1. re: rainey

      Thanks, Rainey....

      May I ask about "washing" the sides... is this done BEFORE ingredients are put into the pot or after, and if after, at what point in the cooking process?

      Thanks!

      1. re: chitownmom

        It is done after when the sugar/cocoa mixture isn't boiling up the sides of the pan and the point is to not let one little errant bit of syrup form a coarse sugar crystal and "seed" the rest of the mixture.

        I'll tell you the truth: I never do it. I just let the mixture boil furiously and do the work for me. But if you've been having problems it's one thing that might help. What you do is just dip a bush in warm water and wash anything above the level of the mixture in the pot back down into the hot liquid.

      2. re: rainey

        With regards to the stirring can you use an electric hand beater? Otherwise do you use a whisk or a wooden spoon? Thanks!

        1. re: LisaBrunton

          Good question. When I was younger I just beat it with a wooden spoon. Now that I don't have the same strength I give my son the wooden spoon.

          Try it with an electric and see what happens. Wish I had more definitive info.

          1. re: LisaBrunton

            In answer to my own question.. It doesn't wOrk as the mixture must cool down to rapidly and so it just forms a hard ball that is stuck to the beater.. Wooden spoon definitely the answer.. (good workout :)

            1. re: LisaBrunton

              Thanks for clarifying that.

              I hope it was a tasty hard ball that you could still enjoy in a different way.

              1. re: rainey

                Yip :) Chopped it up and baked cookies with the chips..

        2. If heat was at the proper temp for fudge
          and the enamel burned
          off on the outside, you can
          return it to LC for a free
          replacement. If the
          enamel burned on the
          inside, it didn't; the heat was
          too high and the sugar
          turned into space-shuttle
          heat shield material.

          I use a stainless steel
          saucepan with a disc bottom.
          Works fine. Just don't get
          impatient and turn the
          heat up too high.

          Another way to keep crystals
          from forming
          (as advised in "The Joy
          of Cooking") is
          to put a lid on
          for 2-3 minutes after the
          candy boils
          and let the steam
          wash down the sides.

          1. Just thinking that enameled cast iron might not be the tool for the job. The trouble is that cast iron has a lot of thermal inertia. It takes a lot of heat to get it up to temperature, and once hot, it stays hot. Candy temperatures have to be spot on or you will end up with a mess!

            My guess is that you cranked up the heat, and then it took a long time for things to get going. Once the dutch oven was hot, you had no way of cooling the pan down, and you burned the dickens out of it. This is an issue using cast iron to cook anything, but candy is just very tempermental.

            You can use cast iron, but your burner has be set medium-low (in general, when using enamelled cast iron, the burner should never go past medium-high).

            Any sort of candy application requires excellent heat distribution and nimble temperature control. Copper is the classic material for candy making -- but, no kidding, it is really expensive, so good-quality stainless should suffice for a one-off batch of fudge.

            1. A friend just told me her trick. I would have never thought of an electric skillet that can be set somewhere between 225-250 degrees F.

              Now, she has a Salad Master that has the "Sealed Oil Core" system, so that maybe of some difference over the ring/rectangular/square element style.

              1. My mom has made fudge for 40 years in the same cast iron pot. Just bare cast iron. She has one dedicated to it.