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Vanilla Fudge

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

Make ups of a perfect Fudge

Fudge is made up from the most basic ingredients, which are sugar and cream! To spice things up a little, vanilla paste or fruits and nuts can also be added to them. Sugar and cream are cooked over heat to reduce until it turns into a light caramel in colour and then whipped to a smooth pasty consistency before moulding them into a baking tray and leave to cool and then cut to individual pieces.

Although it may seem that it is just cooking the two main ingredients together, it actually requires a lot of patience and understanding to achieve the perfect fudge.

The perfect fudge should hold together without losing its shape after being removed from its pan and should have a smooth velvety texture in your mouth that just melts away. It shouldn't be too hard nor brittle and definitely not grainy in texture.

What is a caramel?

Caramel can refer to a sweet golden sauce or a confectionary that can have a consistency of soft, chewy to a hard candy. The way that a caramel are made is simply by melting down sugar and allowing it to colour over the heat. This is a process call caramelizing.

Making Fudge is different to caramelizing

Although fudge involves cooking a sugar solution over the heat until it turns to caramel in colour, the term best used for the method of making fudge is actually called "Mailard Browning". When the sugar solution are cooked over a relatively high heat, the sugar starts to reduce to a thick solution and this causes a reaction with the amino acids protein in the cream/milk that browns the solution. This Mailard reaction does not only browns the solution but it also gives it a complex deep "almost" toasty flavour to the fudge.

Cooking fudge

Cooking the fudge mixture is crucial to reduce any additional water in the cream to give you the texture we want in the confectionary. A typical sugar solution (sugar saturated in liquid - cream in this case)

Why is fudge a science?

If you have made caramel a lot in your kitchen, you probably already know the 101 of what not to do when cooking sugar. Often time recipes will tell you to not over agitate the meting sugar too much and to always brush down the side of the pot with water to avoid recrystallization.

Recrystallization refers to the granules of sugar or often called "Sucrose" crystals that has melted to liquid (inverted) over the heat comes back again into a granular form. In confectionary like soft or chewy butter caramel, recrystallization is a no-no because who likes grainy candy? However, if you are making a hard candy, recrystallization is expected, only difference is that instead of the sugar coming back to tiny little granules, they form in to a big mass, which gives you a candy lollipop that is solid but smooth on your tongue.

Because fudge was made through a mistake that goes against the 101's of candy making, this rule totally change. When preparing a fudge, a supersaturated sugar solution (a solution that contain more solid substance than liquid) is cooked over medium to high heat for a "long enough" period of time to a soft ball stage (112 - 118°C). Depending on the volume you are making, but in this recipe, the cooking time ranges around 15- 20 minutes of standing over the pot and slow stirring.

As the sugar solution starts to evaporate most of its water and reduces to a thick gooey consistency, the solution is taken off the heat and then left to sit and cool to a temperature low enough for the caramel mix to thicken further which hinders the movement of the sugar crystals in the melted solution but not too cool to the point which allows any sugar crystals to link together just yet and recrystallize.

When the solution is cooked and cooled just enough, what that is often not recommended in confectionary making is recommended in the next step for fudge: beat the solution vigorously or in other words, overagitate them until it starts to thicken in to a smooth and creamy mass.

What is the science behind this?

Well, if you were to beat the cooked sugar solution only slightly and then transfer it over to a tray to cool and set, the end result is a smooth caramel at first, but as it settles, the caramel will turn in to a grainy mass. This is an indication that the sugar molecules: mainly comprises of Glucose and Fructose has come back together and bonded which is what makes sugar granules granules. The result from this is a sandy fudge.

However, if you let the solution cool enough just at the right moment and vigorously beat it with a wooden spoon or over the stand mixer with a paddle attachment, what is actually happening here is that you are agitating the supposedly recrystallizing sugar molecules and beating them senseless that they become smaller and smaller in size. Because you were beating them while they have cooled to a thicker consistency, it makes it hard for the sugar molecules to find one another to bond and recrystallize. By the time the mix becomes thick and almost like a soft dough, the tiny miniscule sugar crystals are dead set in the mass and can no longer move to bond with one another. The result is a smooth and melt in your mouth Fudge! In other words " We Got Em' Suckers!" :)

This is probably why I would highly recommend using a stand mixer bowl with a paddle attachment (not a whisk because you do not want to aerate the mixture) over hand beating, because you will never be able to achieve the smooth result that a machine can by hand. But of course, if you have 6 packs on your shoulder, I apologies, yes you can. :)

So, are you up for the challenge?

Equipment: 200mm x 200 mm Square shallow baking tin

Duration: 45 minutes

Yield: 16 x large fudge squares


300 g Thickened cream / double cream

100 g Full cream

100 g Unsalted butter

250 g caster sugar

170 g Raw Sugar

30 g Glucose Syrup

1 tsp. Vanilla bean paste



1. Lightly grease a 20cm square cake tin and line with non stick parchment paper.

Place all the ingredients into a large heavy base pot enough for the mixture to rise to the top twice its volume (I am using a 200 mm diameter and 100mm depth heavy base pot).

Melt the mixture over low heat, constantly whisking to distribute the fat in the butter.

Increase the heat under the pan slightly to allow it to gradually come to the boil whilst stirring all of the time. Simmer the mixture, whilst continuing to stir, until it reaches 116°C ( 241°F) (soft ball stage).

Note: The temperature will stay stagnant at the 107°C for a bit but keep stirring gently and cooking the caramel. The whole cooking process to reach the 116°C takes approximately 13 -18 minutes from the point it starts to boil.

2. Once the caramel reaches 116°C, turn the heat off and remove the pan from the heat and leave the caramel in the pot undisturbed to cool down to 110°C.

The cooling process will only take a couple of minutes. So don't walk away from it for too long.

3. Once the caramel reaches 110°C, transfer the fudge mix and vanilla bean paste into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a whisk, add the vanilla bean paste and whisk at high speed for 5 minutes until the mix starts to turn dull, thickens.

To know when it is ready, the fudge mix start to get dull and slide away from the side of the bowl. If you you want a smoother fudge, stop mixing at this point and further mixing from this point will give you a more crumbly texture.

4. Transfer the fudge mix into the prepared baking tin, spread the top to even out the top with an offset spatula.

Leave the fudge to cool for at least 2 hours at room temperature before cutting. As the fudge starts to cool, it will firm up slightly.


Video Summary

NOTE: The video below is set at double speed. The sugar syrup are stirred gently and not too vigorous at all times to prevent the base from catching and burning. The slow stirring also prevents over agitating of the sugar crystals which can cause premature recrystallization. Stirring in this recipe is necessary to keep the fat in the butter from separating from the mixture from the heat, over agitation or over whisking can cause the sugar to recrystallize prematurely.


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