Toffee and fudge are different types of candy. Although the terms toffee and fudge are used interchangeably to describe any treat with a golden hue and a syrupy/brown sugar taste profile.
So how do these common confectioneries differ from one another?
The main differences between toffee and fudge are the cooking process and the ingredients used to make each. Toffee is hard and brittle, while fudge is soft and chewy. While toffee is made from sugar and butter, fudge contains sugar, butter, and milk.
To better understand what makes each candy unique, the differences between each treat will be analyzed below, then the best recipes for each candy will be outlined so that you can make toffee or fudge at home!
What Are the Differences Between Toffee and Fudge?
The four factors that distinguish toffee and fudge are the temperature they are cooked, the ingredients used, their different textures, and the versatility of each of them:
- Fudge: Fudge is cooked at a lower temperature to toffee. This temperature is known as the softball stage, which typically ranges between 220F to 240F.
- Toffee: Toffee is cooked at a higher temperature to fudge. This temperature is known as the hard crack stage, typically between 300F to 310F.
- Fudge: Fudge is made using sugar, butter, and a variation of milk (such as whole cream milk, cream, evaporated milk, or condensed milk). Furthermore, fudge encourages the use of other ingredients such as chocolate or mint.
- Toffee: Toffee is made using only sugar and butter. Most recipes avoid using additional ingredients, as the importance of toffee making is its texture over taste profile.
- Fudge: Fudge is soft and chewy. It is common to make fudge with a slight dusting on the surface and a smoother interior.
- Toffee: Although the texture of toffee varies considerably, it is typically harder and more brittle than fudge. Toffee also has a smoother finish and consistency than fudge.
- Fudge: Although fudge sports various flavors, it is typically eaten as a standalone treat.
- Toffee: While toffee’s flavor profiles and variety aren’t as numerous as fudge, it lends itself to other confectioneries (such as cakes or ice cream) rather than a standalone treat.
To better understand these differences, a brief description of each confectionery will be outlined below:
Beginning with the older candy, toffee is believed to be an ancient form of confectionery making. While it can be challenging to determine toffee’s exact origin, both the name and modern style of toffee making are believed to have derived from Creole cuisine.
As mentioned above, toffee is simpler to make than fudge, requiring only sugar and butter. However, some toffee recipes use alternative and additional ingredients such as flour, molasses, nuts, and raisins.
Curiously, a popular variant of toffee known as English toffee bears little to no resemblance to the style of toffee typically found in England candy stores. Instead, English toffee is an American variant of toffee making that includes almonds in the cooking process.
Speaking of English toffee, did you know that English Premier League team Everton is commonly referred to as “The Toffees” or “the Toffeemen”!
While the origins of toffee are unclear, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that fudge originated in the United States of America toward the end of the 19th century. The rise of popularity in fudge recipes has been attributed to the decreased cost of sugar. Another reason was the ability to make the treat at home without any expensive equipment.
Although fudge is typically made with sugar, butter, and a variation of milk, this is considered the basis of fudge, at which point experimentation with different ingredients is encouraged.
Consequently, the quintessential image of what the term “fudge” conjures is relative to the area. Certain states designated specific additions such as peanuts or chocolate as staples of fudge making.
Furthermore, industry-scale fudge focuses on creating a fondant that is void of any crystallization to keep fudge soft and chewy. Therefore, the inclusion of milk fat and/or corn syrup has been known to reduce the risk of premature and rapid crystallization.
Finally, while traditional fudge recipes focus on standalone treats, variations on the texture of fudge can create more versatile methods of fudge, a popular variant being “hot fudge.” Hot fudge is made by substituting the butter in fudge making with heavy cream to create a thicker, smoother texture.
Using butter instead of cream results in an end product that is traditionally used as a sauce topping on other confectioneries such as ice cream, parfaits, or s’mores.
Homemade Toffee Recipe
Now that we understand the differences between toffee and fudge, let’s look at a traditional toffee recipe you can make at home!
(“Better Than Anything Toffee Recipe”: https://www.momontimeout.com/better-than-anything-toffee-recipe/)
Prep time: 5 minutes.
Cooking time: 20 hours.
Total time: 25 minutes
Servings: 24 servings
- One cup of chopped pecans,
- One cup of unsalted butter,
- One cup granulated sugar,
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt,
- One teaspoon vanilla extract,
- One cup of milk chocolate chips.
- Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with a non-stick cooking spray and line the dish with parchment paper.
- Spread the cup of chopped pecans evenly in a single layer on top of the parchment paper.
- Add a cup of unsalted butter, a cup of granulated sugar, and ½ teaspoon to a heavy-bottomed three-quart pot.
- Bring the contents of the pot to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring regularly to avoid sticking and to completely dissolve the sugar.
- Once the candy mixture in the pot is boiling, occasionally stir at a slow pace until the candy mixture has reached a temperature between 290F and 300F or until you register a “hard crack” on a candy thermometer.
- Once the candy solution has reached a temperature between 290F and 300F, remove the pot from the heat and gently stir a teaspoon of vanilla extract into the mixture.
- Carefully pour the candy mixture from the pot evenly over the chopped pecans and parchment paper.
- Allow the candy mixture to sit and cool for a moment, where after you can evenly pour a cup of chocolate chips over the top of the candy.
- Cover the baking dish with foil for five minutes or until the chocolate chips have softened.
- Remove the foil and gently spread the chocolate chips into an even layer across the candy with an offset spatula, allowing the chocolate chips to gently embed themselves in the candy.
- Place the tray with the candy in the refrigerator for two hours or until the candy has completed cooled.
- Lift the prepared parchment out of the baking dish and gently place the hardened candy/toffee on a cutting board or a solid, clean surface.
- Use a knife to gently break apart the toffee into roughly 24 even pieces.
- Store the cooled toffee in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Consume within two weeks.
Cooking And Preparation Tips:
- Use a quality candy thermometer to measure the heat of the mixture while cooking. Preferably a digital thermometer for accurate readings.
- Use quality ingredients, such as butter made with 100% natural cream for a smooth finish.
- Because chocolate chips can be difficult to spread evenly across the candy, you can also opt for bars of plain milk chocolate for an easy, even spread.
- While pecans are the recommended nut of choice, other nuts like walnuts and almonds work just as well, provided they are chopped finely and spread evenly.
Homemade Fudge Recipe
An essential feature to get right about fudge is its soft and chewy texture. The flavor and style of fudge depend on the cook’s preferences.
Therefore, what this recipe lacks in variety, it more than makes up for by providing a base from which to make fudge with a perfect texture and a window in the cooking time to add any/all ingredients you desire!
(“BBC Goodfood – How To Make Fudge” https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/classic-fudge)
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Cooking time: 35 minutes.
Total time: 50 minutes.
Servings: 30 servings.
- 125g of salted butter,
- 400g of condensed milk,
- 460g of light muscovado sugar,
- 150ml whole cream milk,
- Two tablespoons of vanilla bean paste.
- Lightly and evenly grease a 20cm square cake tin with salted butter.
- Line the cake tine with baking parchment.
- Put 125g of salted butter, 400g of condensed milk, 460g of light muscovado sugar, and 10ml of whole cream milk into a large saucepan.
- Place the saucepan over low heat and continually stir the contents until the sugar fully dissolves.
- Increase the stove top’s heat until the contents of the saucepan are brought to a boil.
- Allow the mixture to bubble for approximately 10 minutes while stirring the mixture continuously and evenly to avoid sticking.
- Continue stirring and boiling the mixture until it reaches a temperature of 240F on a candy thermometer, or the thermometer registers a softball stage.
- Remove the saucepan from the stove top while allowing the mixture to drop to 230F.
- Add two tablespoons of vanilla bean paste, then beat the mixture with a stand mixer or with an electric whisk until the mixture drops to 140F, (during this step, you can add any preferred ingredients for flavors, such as chocolate, cherries, or nuts.)
- Once the solution has all the large sugar crystals broken down and has a thick, matte-looking texture, evenly spoon the fudge into the prepared cake tin.
- Gently and evenly press down with a spoon over the surface of the fudge.
- Leave the fudge to set for approximately one hour, then you can cut the fudge into roughly 30 even squares.
- Store your cooled fudge in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Consume within three weeks.
Cooking And Preparation Tips:
- Suppose the solution fails to harden and settle. Remove the mixture from the tin; reheat the mixture until it starts to resemble liquid, and add powdered sugar to help stiffen it up.
- Before adding your mixture, we recommend brushing the sides of the saucepan with a wet brush to help aid in non-sticking and dissolve the sugar crystals better.
- To tell if fudge has reached the softball stage, you should be able to handle the solution and easily flatten it into a small ball with your fingers. If the solution breaks into threads or dissolves, the mixture requires further boiling.
- While you can make fudge on a rainy day or a very humid day, the increased moisture in the air means you may have to boil the fudge for longer, and it may not harden appropriately in the cake tin.
- For improved storage, fudge can be frozen in an airtight container for several months.
When Is the Best Time to Eat Toffee and Fudge?
Although you can buy and make toffee and fudge all year round, these confectioneries are usually found in candy stores during festive seasons and in gift boxes for special occasions, such as tourist souvenirs or birthday parties.
Although you may be tempted to eat these sweet treats all year round and on any occasion, make sure to eat these confectioneries in moderation, as they are packed with loads of calories, fats, dairy, and sugar!
While it is not advisable to have toffee and fudge regularly, there’s nothing wrong with indulging one’s self on occasion! Fortunately, there is a host of food that complement both toffee and fudge; some of the most popular options are:
- Apples (such as making “toffee apples’ by dipping apples in melted toffee),
- Sweet hot drinks like coffee, tea, or cocoa,
- Crumbling fudge over ice cream or making a “hot fudge sundae” by pouring hot fudge over ice cream,
- As an addition to any confectioneries such as cake, cupcakes, tarts, or cookies (feel free to experiment!)
In conclusion, although toffee and fudge may be a term that is used interchangeably, there are differences between these two candies.
Regardless of which confectionery you prefer, their simplicity, variety, and broad appeal make them popular treats for the whole family!
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.