Fudge is a delicious, decadent dessert. For that reason alone, you want it to be perfect every time you indulge in eating it.
That’s why it can be so frustrating and discouraging when your fudge is not thick enough or is not the right consistency in any way.
Luckily, there are steps that you can take during the preparation process to help make sure that your fudge comes out thick and perfect every single time you make it. Let’s take a look at what those steps are.
1 – Use the Correct Ingredients
Every fudge recipe is a little bit different, especially in the ingredients that they include. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First of all, baking is a science, and bakers have always loved experimenting with different combinations and techniques. What is more, everyone’s tastes are a bit different, so unique recipes satisfy individual preferences.
That said, until you have truly mastered the art of fudge making, you need to use the exact ingredients for which your recipe calls. Otherwise, you might unknowingly alter the chemical reactions in the cooking process, resulting in thin or yucky fudge.
This rule also includes the ingredients meant to flavor the fudge, such as cocoa powder or baking chocolate, peanut butter, or even pieces of candy. The person who wrote the recipe designed it to accommodate those additional ingredients, and changing them could affect the outcome.
2 – Measure Precisely
In addition to using the correct ingredients, you also have to measure them precisely. Even slight variations in the ratio of ingredients can harm the hardness of the fudge, especially if you have too much of your liquid ingredients or not enough sugar.
We strongly recommend using a food scale to measure ingredients rather than measuring cups. A scale will be much more accurate than measuring cups; you’ll love using it and may soon switch from measuring cups entirely.
3 – Follow Your Recipe
Once again, consistency and following directions are critically crucial to making fudge that is the perfect consistency, texture, and hardness. Whatever your recipe says is what you should do until you have a more expert skill level.
Make sure you read through your entire recipe before beginning to bake. After all, mise en place isn’t just about preparing your ingredients and equipment but also making sure that you can correctly perform all of the required steps.
If there are any steps that you do not understand or that are foreign to you, the chances are good that there is a YouTube video, WikiHow, or some kind of online tutorial for it. Look at it as an opportunity to learn something new.
In addition, be sure that you have the time necessary to complete all the steps thoroughly. Don’t start baking something that will take an hour if you only have 45 minutes to spare.
4 – Heat it to the Correct Temperature
The heating process is one of the most critical steps when it comes to thickening the fudge properly. By heating the ingredients, they come together in exact chemical reactions, which is why it is so important to get it right.
That is why we strongly recommend using a candy thermometer when making fudge. It will be almost impossible to get it right without one.
You must heat the fudge until it reaches a temperature of 235 to 245 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature range gives you a little flexibility and allows for some inaccuracy in the thermometer you use (very few thermometers are completely accurate), which is a relief (you can test your candy thermometer’s accuracy by putting it into boiling water, where it should read exactly 212 degrees Fahrenheit).
Another good tip for great fudge is not to stir it once it is boiling. Stirring at that point may cause the sugar to crystallize, which can yield graininess or other issues.
Once the fudge is hot enough, it’s time for it to set. Proper setting (or hardening procedures) is also important to the thickness of the end product. We will discuss that next.
5 – Set it Right
The process of setting fudge has a great deal to do with its thickness and consistency. That’s why, even though it is an inactive step in fudge making, it is still vitally important to do it right.
Our first piece of advice for setting is to follow your recipe’s instructions. The setting directions will be unique to each recipe and directly correlate to the ingredients in the fudge.
That being said, there are some tips and tricks and universal rules of thumb that you can follow. For one thing, you need to make sure that the fudge has enough time to set; sometimes, just giving it a little more time can do the trick.
We recommend setting the fudge overnight in the refrigerator. You can’t overset the fudge, and this way, you will know for sure if the setting was the problem.
Try to minimize the number of times that you open the fridge while the fudge is setting. Every time it’s opened, you create variances in temperature that can negatively affect the texture of the fudge.
Never set fudge in the freezer, and if your refrigerator has variances in temperature, don’t put the fudge in the colder sections where the liquid can freeze.
Finally, keep your environmental conditions in mind. There shouldn’t be a lot of variance inside the fridge itself, but if you’re in a particularly hot or humid climate, your fudge might need a little longer to set.
Can You Fix Thin Fudge?
Now for the good news: you can usually fix fudge that didn’t harden properly. All you need to do is put it back into the saucepan and, using the candy thermometer, heat it back to the proper temperature. You may want to hit the higher end of the range this time, just to be safe.
If your fudge really did not harden or was quite thin, you can add a small amount of powdered sugar to see if that helps. Start with just a teaspoon or two, combine thoroughly, and add more if the melted mixture still appears to be runny.
If you don’t have powdered sugar or don’t want the flavor of the fudge to be any sweeter, use cornstarch instead. Dissolve a tablespoon of cornstarch in a tablespoon of water and add slowly, stirring thoroughly, until your fudge is noticeably thicker.
Alternatively, try the soft ball method: once your fudge is boiling, drop a small amount into a cup of frigid water. If it is ready, it should form a soft ball that is malleable but firm when squeezed. This tactic is especially effective if you don’t have a good candy thermometer.
Enjoy Your Fudge!
If your fudge didn’t come out perfectly, don’t throw it away. There are many ways to use improperly hardened fudge without wasting food, not to mention all the work you put into making it.
Our favorite is to use the fudge as a tasty topping for ice cream. The most important aspect of baking anything—from fudge to baked Alaska—is to enjoy the process and the finished product!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.