Need Fudge Making equipment recommendations
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!
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!
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.
I have bad shoulders in the "old age stage," and can no longer use a wooden spoon. I now using my portable mixer with great succcess. Takes a trained eye to know when that sheen and the texture is just right to pour without going too far (beating too much). Mother taught me to take it off the heat at soft-ball stage - just add the butter and vanilla and beat it before it cooled - hold pan at an angle while beating, pour into buttered dish at just the right time, and within 5 minutes, can cut perfect hot fudge candy! I am now training my granddaughter to do the same.
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
(as advised in "The Joy
of Cooking") is
to put a lid on
for 2-3 minutes after the
and let the steam
wash down the sides.
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.
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.
My mom has made fudge for 40 years in the same cast iron pot. Just bare cast iron. She has one dedicated to it.