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Three Fudge Recipes Reviewed Back-to-Back

by on October 29, 2009 · 41 comments

After tossing out a batch of cloyingly sweet fudge this weekend, I decided to devote some time to finding a better recipe.

First, there was the old “Foolproof Chocolate Fudge” recipe made with chocolate chips and condensed milk. I’ve made that one for years, which is probably the reason I’m not very good at making real fudge. The condensed milk version is a cheat — good if you need something fast, but don’t bother serving it to real fudge lovers because people can usually tell it’s the “quick” kind. It’s heavy, needs chilling, and sometimes tastes like condensed milk. Given all that, I’d planned on eliminating condensed milk based fudge from my trials, but Louise told me about a Cooks Illustrated twist on the recipe. CI adds baking soda to get a stiffer, lighter texture more like the real stuff. They also make it less sweet by combining two types of chocolate.

So CI’s 15 Minute Walnut Fudge was first on the list for testing this morning. It tasted good and the baking soda definitely made the texture a little drier and firmer, but I wasn’t in love with it. It still required refrigeration and it didn’t have the melt-in-your-mouth quality that makes fudge great.

fudge condensed milk

The next recipe was Alton Brown’s Fudge. There were some discrepancies between the fudge he made on the show and the recipe that was posted on the Food TV website, so I just used the website version since a few others said it was fine. It’s a good recipe, but I had to make it twice because the first time it got too hot in my stainless steel saucepan. The second time, using a different saucepan, it was perfect; though I did add about 1/4 teaspoon of salt to Alton’s recipe. If you want to try a good homemade fudge recipe with no condensed milk or marshmallow crème, this is a good one to play with.

fudge from alton brown

For the third fudge of the day, I decided to go with a really old fashioned recipe using cocoa powder and tried a classic Hershey’s fudge recipe someone posted on Recipezaar. Cocoa powder is less rich than actual chocolate and without any cream or half and half, my expectations for this fudge weren’t that high. Luckily, it exceeded them. This fudge was the real deal. I didn’t like it quite as much as Alton Brown’s fudge, but it had a light texture and rich chocolate flavor. Considering how much cheaper it is to make this fudge compared to the cheat fudge, it’s a recipe worth mastering.

fudge with cocoa

So those were my three fudge trials for today. Several people swear by the marshmallow crème jar recipe “Fantasy Fudge” and I plan on trying that one next.

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Published on October 29, 2009

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise October 29, 2009 at 4:07 pm

It’s all really fine looking fudge. I’ll have a batch of the Alton Brown fudge tomorrow. :-)

Meghan October 29, 2009 at 4:08 pm

This is a great post! I love to compare different recipes, and making them at the same time is the best way to do it. Thanks for this review!

Kristin W October 29, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Yummy! What do you think would happen to the Hershey fudge if you used the Special Dark cocoa powder? I’m hooked on that stuff….

Anna October 29, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Louise, I’m looking forward to your report.

Meghan, I wish I could do more back-to-back posts. I had a lot of time on my hands today.

Kristin, it might react differently with the ingredients since it’s not as acidic as natural, but that might not be an issue at all. It would definitely be intense, and maybe not in a good way.

Kim Bouchard October 29, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Have you tried Paula Deen’s cheese fudge? It sounds wierd, but it is so good. The peanut butter is great also!

Zanne October 29, 2009 at 4:54 pm

I make Fantasy Fudge every year for Xmas gifts. I use pecans (1 1/2 cups – we live in the Deep South), not walnuts, extra (real) vanilla (2 t), and semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 12oz package), not squares. I also add a generous pinch of salt because I think chocolate needs salt to set off the flavor. I set heat to about medium and melt butter in saucepan, add sugar and evaporated milk, stir until pot hits full boil and boil 5 minutes by the clock without stirring. I pull from fire at that point, add creme and chips, stir furiously until no white shows and chips are melted. Add vanilla (carefully as it does boil up when alcohol hits that hot mix) and nuts and stir to coat. Then, turn out into prepared pan. I need a big, solid wooden spoon for all the stirring as it is a good, solid mix, and a heat proof spatula for scraping pan. Your humidity may be lower than mine, as I am on the coast, so you may want go with 4 minutes, or check your time and temperature, so you would know next time.

Before I start, I open marshmallow creme jar, pull off paper, and put jar in small saucepan of water and put on stove eye on about medium low. This will soften creme while I boil up sugar mix, and when I add creme to the sugar mix, I hold the now very hot glass jar with folded dishcloth and creme scoops out easily with heat proof spatula into sugar mix. (I put empty jar into sink and pour hot water from pan into glass jar to sit and help clean out glass jar later.) Careful adding creme to sugar mix as it can kind of plop into sugar mix and splash.

I also prep and use a 9 x13 glass pan and use butter to grease it heavily. I don’t use square pan and I don’t use foil.

After I turn fudge out, I shake pan back and forth on counter to get the dribs and drabs to settle into the mix and not show up on the top of the candy. I also leave enough in the pan to turn out onto a salad plate and give to my tasters with saltines to see if the making is good! Get hot water in that empty pan asap because that will make your clean up easier, too.


Jennifer October 29, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Hi Anna! I have an OLD Hershey’s cookbook that has that cocoa fudge recipe and have always been curious about it!! I have only ever made fudge with marshmallow creme and as a kid loved it, now as an adult, I find it too sweet. So I am interested in what you think about the marshmallow stuff…and am excited to try the Hershey’s cocoa version!!

dawn October 29, 2009 at 5:04 pm

I’ve used Alton’s recipe for those last minute treats and/or gifts. I’ve always loved it. Never liked the Hershey one though.

Anna October 29, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Kim, is that the Velveeta recipe? I think I tried that years ago and didn’t care for it — not sure it was Paula’s recipe, though.

Zanne, thanks for the great tips. I will print them out this weekend when I make the Fantasy Fudge.

Jennifer, all of the fudge I’ve been eating lately including the fudge at Disney World seems very sweet — not so sweet that I’d throw it out, like the batch I made this past weekend, but sweeter than I remember it as a kid. Maybe it’s just part of growing old. Things start tasting too sweet?

Dawn, thanks for validating the Alton recipe. I was really surprised my Hershey recipe turned out we well, but it did. Still, the Alton recipe was better.

Sarah October 29, 2009 at 5:22 pm

I discovered the Hershey’s recipe once when had to make some fudge at midnight without going to the store, so I looked up something without any special ingredients. And I was so impressed that I’ve been making it for years. It’s not creamy like frosting as many fudges are; it’s more crumbly-melt-in-your-mouth that reminds you of old style recipes. But it’s not nearly as easy as the marshmallow creme kind (which usually resemble a frosting texture when they’re done).

Sheri October 29, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Thanks for this great post! I’m looking forward to trying the third version now.

joan October 29, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Hi Anna, I just received my Fine Cooking magazine in the mail today, and there is an article about making fudge. I have been trying to make fudge for years. The Fantasy Fudge with marshmallow cream flopped pretty badly last year, I’m not sure why. I ended up tossing it. The texture was not good and it was super sweet. When we were kids we used to always try make fudge on New Years Eve with the Hershey’s cocoa. We did not have a candy thermometer, so we had to try to judge when it got to the “soft ball” stage. It always came out awful, very grainy, but, for some reason, that did not deter us from trying again the next year. It became the Holy Grail of our limited cooking experiences. My sister and I were reminiscing about that & we had a good laugh. I think I will take a look @ the Alton Brown recipe, and decide between that & the Fine Cooking one. Maybe this will be my year!

HeartofGlass October 29, 2009 at 6:58 pm

I remember you once wrote about another recipe–I think Rice Krispie treats–that had changed from the original incarnation. I wonder if fudge recipes as a whole have gotten sweeter, to suit people’s sweeter modern palates. It would be interesting to look at one from an old, old cookbook. But I too notice that my palate is also much less sweet (gasp) than it used to be. I haven’t had fudge in awhile, but I don’t remember it as sweet, rather as very dense and intense.

I have been busy at work so I haven’t been updating in awhile, but hopefully in the next week or so things will calm down.

Megan October 29, 2009 at 7:04 pm

You are my hero, Anna – because my goal is to learn how to make real fudge – no condensed milk or marshmallow fluff – the real deal.

I’ll let you know if I’m ever successful!

shannon October 29, 2009 at 7:21 pm

The only time I’ve ever made fudge, I used Alton Brown’s recipe. It was very good and easy to make. I’d use it again, especially knowing you ranked it well in your taste test. Actually, I’ve seemed to have good outcomes with all of Alton’s recipes – he seems to know what he’s doing.

Kim Bouchard October 29, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Anna, Yes it is made with Velveeta. If you made the chocolate, try the peanut butter. I have been told you can taste the cheese in the chocolate, but not the peanut butter.

Gloria October 29, 2009 at 7:42 pm

These look wonderful-but I’m leaving the making to the experts and the tasting to me.. The only time I made fudge was when I screwed up ganache!!

Louise October 29, 2009 at 7:46 pm

HeartofGlass — Be careful what you ask for. You want an old, old recipe. — from The Los Angeles Times Cookbook 1905 Fudge — Two Squares of Chocolate, 3 cups of sugar, butter size of a small egg, 1 1/2 cups of milk. Boil until it forms a waxy ball when dropped in cold water. Pour on platter, stir vigorously before it cools, till the grain is very fine, and then cut in squares. Mrs. J. S. Talcott, Tustin, Cal.

Fallon October 29, 2009 at 8:31 pm

The fantasy fudge is delicious!!!

Sue October 29, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Great blog entry! I love the comparisons. I’m envious that you had the time to make these back to back. What a great way to compare.
I have a fudge recipe that I like from Williams Sonoma. It’s more of a milk chocolate fudge. It has toasted almonds. It ‘s really smooth, which is what we love about it, and doesn’t taste of sweetened condensed milk. At least not to us.
It calls for unsweetened chocolate, milk chocolate, vanilla, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, water, cream, butter and toasted almonds. I stopped trying other recipes after I found this one, but your post is enough to make me think I should try one of these recipes.

Maryellen October 29, 2009 at 9:50 pm

I’ve made the Fantasy Fudge for years — and my friends think I’m a ‘fudge goddess’ and ask for it on their birthdays, holidays, etc. I don’t even tell them how easy it is> Plus, the results are so consistent when I use a candy thermometer and watch it closely.

As a child my mother made the ‘real fudge’ in a big pot. I remember her rule to ‘never scrape down the sugar crystals on the side of the pan once it starts boiling.” (Or it would make the fudge granular. BUT, with the Fantasy Fudge recipe that old rule can be tossed out! Scarpe, stir all you want!

HeartofGlass October 30, 2009 at 5:30 am

Louise–weelll, maybe not THAT old. Although that might be a fun science experiment to try, if I ever want to get rid of three cups of sugar and feel like playing with waxy balls.

To see if I could find a more recent ‘old recipe,’ I Googled and found this which is supposed to be ‘traditional.’

It says that fudge got its name because students in college used to make it in dorms, ‘fudging’ the rules about cooking. Students used to use more useful procrastination techniques in the 1880s I guess, than Beer Pong and making You Tube videos!

Louise October 30, 2009 at 5:46 am

HeartofGlass–I have the recipes for Vassar, Smith, and the other girls’ college fudge recipes if you’d like to try them.

HeartofGlass October 30, 2009 at 8:06 am

^Wow–I never thought that Vassar and Smith would have ‘competing’ fudge recipes!

sherri October 30, 2009 at 8:07 am

I’ve made the fantasy fudge for years and all my peeps love it- but I will try the Hershey recipe. Thanks for your effort and sharing the results.

Magen October 30, 2009 at 9:46 am

This is my favorite fudge recipe:

4 c. sugar
2 (5 1/3 oz.) cans evaporated milk
1 c. butter
1 (12 oz.) pkg. (2 c.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow creme
1 c. walnuts, chopped
1 tsp. vanilla

Butter the sides of a heavy 2-quart saucepan. In it combine sugar, milk, and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Cook to 238 degrees (soft-ball stage), stirring only to prevent sticking. (Mixture should boil gently over entire surface.) Remove from heat. Add chocolate chips, marshmallow creme, and vanilla. Stir vigorously about 10 minutes until mixture becomes very thick and creamy and loses its gloss. Stir in nuts. Spread in a buttered 8 x 4 x 22 inch loaf pan. Score while warm. Cut when firm. Makes about 1 pound.

It’s very sweet, but so good!

Christy October 30, 2009 at 12:46 pm

This probably isn’t popular but I love somewhat “gritty” fudge….the old fashioned kind — no marshmallow creme.

Martha October 30, 2009 at 4:56 pm

I grew up making the cocoa fudge. Once I tasted what is called Fantasy Fudge by most people, I was a convert. Now my niece asks for it every Christmas – I have to leave nuts out of half for her sister. If you think it’s too sweet, you can use bittersweet chips instead of semi-sweet.

Deb October 30, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Has anyone tried making chocolate fudge at high altitude? I wish I could make chocolate fudge but I can’t get it to come out right. I tried Alton Brown’s recipe but it tasted weird. I have made fantasy fudge but it comes out too hard and dry. I like fudge to be kind of soft and moist…I would appreciate any ideas…thanks!

Mary October 30, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Hello Anna —

FYI, a few years ago Kraft changed the fudge recipe printed on the jars of marshmallow creme. For decades it was Fantasy Fudge, then it became Creamy Fudge (which was a completely different recipe using different proportions of sugar, butter, and chocolate chips). I THINK that they’ve changed it back to the classic Fantasy Fudge, which is 3 cups sugar, 1-1/2 sticks of butter, a small can of evap. milk, 2 cups (12-oz. bag) of chips, et cetera.

I’ve used the Fantasy Fudge recipe for years to make various flavors. It’s never failed, has never been grainy, and I’ve never used a candy thermometer in it (just boil for 5 minutes, like the recipe says).

Katrina October 30, 2009 at 11:36 pm

Dang, after reading all this, I want some good fudge!
Anna, I’d mentioned my mom’s recipe. I looked it over with the other recipes you tried and the others mentioned and it’s totally different. I thought it was cocoa, but it’s chips, but still a pretty frugal fudge. I’m curious about it now as I don’t really remember how it tasted and what the texture was like, but the thing I think is the strangest about it is that it has an egg. I guess after melting chocolate and butter, the egg is “cooked” because it is added to the hot chocolate mixture.
Anyway, here’s the recipe if you or anyone wants to try it.

Katrina’s Mom’s Favorite Easy Fudge

1 1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup (it says margarine), but I say butter
Melt together.
2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Beat until smooth. Pour into 9×9 pan coated with cooking spray. Chill for 2 hours. Cut and enjoy!

Anna October 31, 2009 at 8:25 am

I’m enjoying all these comments and thanks to all of you who’ve posted more recipes. I am gathering them up and will try themas well.

Deb, I hope someone chimes in to help you with the high altitude question. I believe someone mentioned that in the review section of the Food TV Alton Brown Fudge recipe. I’ve never had to cook or bake at high altitude, but I know a lot of my readers do it and make necessary adjustments.

Mary, Kraft did change it back and the proportions are the same as you posted. Now I just need to get some marshmallow creme.

Katrina, what an interesting recipe! I’ve seen lots of fudge recipes with powdered sugar, but never with an egg. I can tell you just summarized the directions, but I’ll look around and see if I can find a full version. It doesn’t say anything about heating over the stove, when to add the egg, how long to cook.

Louise October 31, 2009 at 8:34 am

Deb — a reviewer on the Alton Brown Fudge recipe says ” if you live 1000 feet or more above sea level, you have to decrease the temperature of the fudge 2 degrees for every 1000ft. I live at 5,000 feet, so I pulled the fudge off the heat when it reached 225 degrees. I let it sit untouched until it reached about 115, then I added the butter and vanilla” — So the only change is that “soft ball” state happens sooner.

Katrina October 31, 2009 at 11:11 am

I actually just typed the recipe exactly as I copied it (YEARS AGO) from my mom’s recipe. But she may have copied it in short form. They way I wrote it here, is exactly how it’s written on my recipe card. I think I’ll try it, but may not get to it this weekend. I did google “fudge with egg” after I looked at mine last night and saw a few others. One was called Powdered Sugar Fudge. It was almost midnight, so I didn’t spend much time looking around.
Busy day today. Have fun Halloween-ing!

TG October 31, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Christy, i think i also might like the gritty-ish fudge although i don’t know which recipe that is. i can barely wrap my head around all these fudge variations

i know most people like fudge super-creamy and melty but that version grosses me out a little bit, for some dumb reason

Heidi November 1, 2009 at 9:51 am

I always make marshmallow fluff fudge – and everybody loves it so much I just never bother with “real” fudge. I think my favorite variation is to cut the recipe in half at the melted stage, and make half with chocolate chips and half with pb chips, and then make a layered fudge. mmmm. That, and I make a recipe with Kahlua or other liqueur. I find it is not as sweet as some fudge. That said, it only takes a little square to satisfy!

Deb November 2, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Thanks for the advice about high altitude – I’m going to try it again this weekend!

Christy November 17, 2009 at 10:19 pm

TG the “gritty” fudge I make is the Hershey’s Recipe Anna posted from Recipezaar…..if you like “gritty” you would like that recipe!!

Jil April 2, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Hello everyone, i’ve tasted the Disney chocolate fudge and i’m trying to make a similar one…does any of you know which recipe i should use in order to make it as similar as possible? thank you in advance!!

Penny September 1, 2012 at 11:03 am

is there a recipe for chocolate fudge with the following 3 cups of sugar, 1 can of condensed milk, 1/2 cup of cocoa, a small jar of marshmellow cream, and vanilla. im pretty shure it has butter in it but not sure how much.. can some one help me?

Anna September 1, 2012 at 11:27 am

Hi Penny,
I’d like to help you find that recipe. Does it really call for condensed milk or do you mean evaporated milk? At first I thought you might be thinking of Fantasy Fudge, but Fantasy Fudge is made with actual chocolate rather than cocoa powder. I did a little more searching and found this one from Hershey’s which has evaporated milk, cocoa powder and marshmallow creme. The proportions are different, but the ingredients are similar. Do you have any more clues that might help me find it such as where you first saw it? Was it from the back of a container? Sorry for all the questions, but now I am interested in your recipe.,167,153177-248206,

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