This chocolate fudge has a rich, deep flavor and thick, creamy texture. It holds together well without being too hard, and melts in your mouth when you bite into it. It’s vegan, grain-free (paleo), and oil-free.
There is something about fudge that fascinates yet strikes fear into the heart of the home cook. And I will admit, there’s a lot of physical chemistry involved in making old fashioned fudge. The recipe calls for combining and boiling milk, bitter chocolate, and sugar together until the temperature reaches 237°F/114°C (known as the “soft-ball stage”), pouring the seething mixture into a bowl, cooling it to 110°F/43°C, and then beating the candy until the surface shine disappears.
To look at a simple fudge recipe, you’d think that making this kind of confection would be a breeze. You aren’t just heating up the mixture, though, and that’s where potential problems start. Good fudge is all about the sugar crystals. That is, you want sugar crystals to form when you make it (the opposite of your goal when making caramel, toffee, or brittle). However, you want the crystals to be tiny, much smaller than the original sugar crystals.
Sugar crystals vary in size from so tiny that they give the finished product a creamy texture to huge rock candy crunchy crystals. This is why a traditional fudge recipe comes with so many instructions:
- Wash down the sides of the pan either with a wet pastry brush or by putting the lid on the pan about 2-3 minutes after the mixture starts boiling (to remove any sugar crystals clinging to the sides of the pan; otherwise, the sugar will start to recrystallize too soon, causing large crystals to form).
- Use a thermometer (fudge boiled below the soft-ball temperature is too soft to hold its shape, and fudge boiled above this point becomes too firm).
- Don’t disturb the mixture until it’s cooled to 110°F/43°C (this is the magical temperature at which you will get tiny creamy-feeling sugar crystals. If you start stirring before then, the crystals will be too big, producing grainy fudge. If you let the fudge cool too much, it will set up and be difficult to beat).
- Once cooled, beat the mixture until it thickens and begins to look matte (the beating ensures that crystallization starts in as many places as possible and small sugar crystals have all attached to each other, forming an evenly smooth mixture).
If you don’t follow the recipe instructions carefully, you are very likely to wind up with a coarse, gritty mass instead of creamy fudge.
The good news is that this chocolate fudge is much easier to make.
Tips for Making Chocolate Fudge
The main ingredient in this fudge is chocolate. You can use dark, milk, white … any chocolate you enjoy eating straight out of the package. There’s a little bit of maple syrup in this recipe, but not enough to add a lot of sweetness.
The problem with mixing chocolate with maple syrup (or any type of liquid, for that matter) is that the mixture can easily seize. When melted chocolate comes into contact with liquid (even the smallest amount), the dry particles become moist and begin to stick together, quickly forming a gritty, rough paste. This is because when the water joins with the sugar in the chocolate, a syrup is formed, which attracts the cocoa particles and makes for a grainy texture.
The way to fix seized chocolate is to add more liquid to it, in this case full-fat coconut milk. Adding the right amount of coconut milk (or other liquid) will dissolve the sugar and cocoa and make it a fluid consistency.
Vanilla is often added to chocolate candies or other chocolate recipes because it complements and accents the flavor of chocolate. You can add it together with any other add-ins you like, including chopped nuts, cacao nibs, or fruit pieces.
If you have ever tried to boil maple syrup (to make traditional maple fudge, for instance), you know that it crystallizes very easily. With this chocolate fudge recipe, there is no boiling necessary. Simply add all the ingredients into the melted chocolate, and stir until well combined.
You can do this on the stove-top, over direct heat, but just be careful not to burn the chocolate. Chocolate is very sensitive to high temperatures and different chocolates require different maximum temperatures in order to melt properly. Dark chocolate should never be heated above 120°F/49°C, while milk and white chocolates should never be heated to above 110°F/43°C. It is quite easy to exceed these temperatures, especially if using a direct heat.
Pour the chocolate fudge mixture into a parchment paper-lined pan (I used 6.5 x 6.5 inch/16.5 x 16.5 cm storage container), and refrigerate until set, 1-2 hours. You can cut the fudge when it’s cold, straight out of the fridge, but it’s easier at room temperature.
More Fudge Recipes
If you’d like to make fudge with whole foods only, check out this raw date-sweetened almond butter fudge. Compared to the chocolate fudge, it’s chewy, dense, and not as rich. However, it’s just as easy, if not easier, to make. Neither this almond butter fudge or the chocolate fudge need to be kept in the freezer or the refrigerator, which is great if you want to gift it or just take it to a holiday party.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Cookware Set (All-Clad, Stainless Steel) | 2. Knives Set (Set of 5, Utopia Kitchen, Stainless Steel) | 3. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 4. Storage containers (Set of 10, Glass) | 5. Measuring Cup (2 Cups, Anchor Hocking, Glass) | 6. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 7. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel)
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- Mix all the ingredients. Add the chocolate, coconut milk, almond butter, maple syrup, and salt into a medium saucepan. Melt the chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly, until all the ingredients are well combined. Watch the chocolate closely as it can burn easily (dark chocolate shouldn't exceed 120°F/49°C, while milk and white chocolates shouldn't exceed 110°F/43°C).
- Let the fudge cool. Transfer the mixture into a parchment paper-lined 6.5 x 6.5 inch/16.5 x 16.5 cm baking dish. Tap the dish against the counter a few times to get rid off any air bubbles. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, until firm. You can cut the fudge while cold, but it's easier at room temperature.
- Store. Leftover fudge keeps well at room temperature for 5-7 days. You can also refrigerate it for 1 month. For longer term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
**Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.