There are dozens of variations of fudge, which means that fudge can vary in terms of texture, taste, and flavor. It’s safe to say, however, that fudge should always be smooth in consistency and never grainy.
If it is, chances are that something went wrong during the cooking process.
The good news is that fixing grainy or flawed fudge isn’t a difficult task and can be done just as easily.
What Causes Grainy Fudge?
First things first; what causes grainy fudge? Most often, it can be caused by the formation of sugar crystals. Although you want these crystals in your fudge, you don’t want them to be formed too soon.
In order to avoid crystals from forming before you want them to, be sure to pay careful attention during the cooling process. If the recipe you are using says to heat the ingredients to the point where it reaches the soft-ball stage, or 234° F, then allow it to cool to approximately 110° F without doing anything to it.
If you continue to stir while the fudge is cooling, you increase the chances of seed crystals forming too soon. Seed crystals are what cause the sugar to crystallize in your fudge, thus making it grainy.
Leaving the fudge mixture alone while it cools prevents the seed crystals from forming until you are ready for them to do so.
Another reason for your grainy fudge could have to do with the fact that there wasn’t enough fluid or fat for the sugar to dissolve. You also may not have beaten the fudge long or hard enough.
How to Fix Grainy Fudge
Now that you know what causes grainy fudge, it’s important that you know how to fix it. In order to do this, take your fudge and place it back into your saucepan, along with some water and cream. When your fudge is melted back down again, you will have to re-boil it.
Once you have done that, you can stir it until the grainy texture disappears and you’re left with a smooth mixture. Adding in a bit of cream of tartar will also help keep the sugar crystals at bay.
Ideal Fudge Texture
As mentioned earlier, there are several different textures that your fudge could be; it just depends on what you add into it. For traditional fudge, you want the texture to be firm, but not too hard. You will also want to make sure that it isn’t too sticky.
In order to get these results, make sure that your fudge is being cooked to a temperature between 237 and 239 degrees F. This is the perfect temperature because it evaporates the liquid in the fudge and keeps it from getting both too hard and too soft.
Fudge that is too soft means that it’s likely undercooked. In order to prevent this from happening, make sure that you are using a candy thermometer so that you are getting the right temperature for the fudge.
In order to save fudge that has become too soft, put the mixture back into the pan and add a few tablespoons of cream to it. Begin to boil the mixture until it has reached a temperature between 237 and 239 degrees F.
Overcooked fudge, on the other hand, will have a brittle consistency and will be much too hard to enjoy. When your temperature is too high, the liquid evaporates more quickly and there won’t be enough left for your sugar crystals to form.
If you simply don’t think that you can handle the delicate cooking temperatures of fudge, you can always try using recipes that require confectioner’s sugar instead of brown sugar or granulated sugar.
This is because recipes that contain these ingredients don’t require a lot of cooking. However, your fudge will end up being sweeter than most.
Lastly, if you find that your fudge is a bit too stiff, you can always soften it up by kneading it with your hands or rolling it using a rolling pin.
Getting the Right Tools
The types of cooking tools that you use for making fudge are just as important as the ingredients that you use. The first thing that you want to have is the right saucepan. It needs to be heavy-duty and tall enough that your fudge won’t boil over.
You will also want to make sure that the bottom of your pan isn’t going to allow the fudge to stick and it won’t burn through it either.
Another tool that you’ll need is a spatula, preferably wooden or silicone. Silicone is better for withstanding heat but a good old-fashioned wooden spoon will get the job done just as well. Whatever you do, be sure to use a spoon that will hold up against the weight of the fudge.
Your fudge batter will be incredibly heavy, so you won’t want a spoon that can’t handle this. Next up, you will need a candy thermometer. We mentioned this earlier, but it’s important enough that it’s worth mentioning twice.
With a candy thermometer, you will be able to get your fudge to be the perfect temperature without having to play any guessing games.
Again, you want to keep in mind that an undercooked fudge will not set correctly no matter how long you keep it refrigerated, while an overcooked fudge will likely mean that you have to start over to get it right. Because of this, it’s vital that your cooking times are as accurate as possible.
When choosing your candy thermometer, know that they are not all created equal. Glass thermometers will blow up if the temperature is too high, while a plastic one will melt. Be sure to check out your home goods section to find a thermometer that is meant specifically for cooking.
Lastly, you will also need parchment paper or aluminum foil for you to set your fudge in. If you try and set your fudge on the pan without anything lining it, you will almost certainly end up struggling to try to pry the fudge off. For extra ease, be sure to use a cooking spray.
You can also use a silicone baking mat in place of the parchment paper or foil.
Best Fudge Recipes and Ingredients
Now that we’ve covered just about everything that there is to know about fudge, it’s time to discuss fudge recipes and the proper ingredients to use for them. The base of fudge is simply milk, sugar, and butter.
Granted, people have thrown their own spin on things over the years and added in their own ingredients.
If you are looking for a fudge recipe that will be on the creamier side of things, try using one that contains marshmallows in it. This is because they keep the sugar from crystallizing, thus resulting in a smooth fudge.
For this recipe, you will need butter, almonds, semi-sweet chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and pink sea salt.
Start by lining your baking pan with foil or parchment paper and add in either cooking spray or butter if you want to make it extra stick-proof. In a pan, start by toasting up your chopped almonds and then place them in a dish for later use.
You will use a large bowl for this recipe as opposed to a saucepan. Make sure that your bowl is heatproof as you will be melting your ingredients in it.
Take your chocolate chips, marshmallows, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and salt and put them in said bowl.
Place your bowl over hot water, being careful that it doesn’t actually touch the water. It should just sit above it enough that the heat from it can begin to melt your ingredients.
When they are melted, remove from the heat and add in another bit of marshmallows and your almonds.
Now, you are ready to pour the mix into the pan. Smooth it out as evenly as possible and place it into your fridge, where you will need to let it sit for at least three hours, or overnight if you prefer.
Once the fudge has hardened enough, you can begin to slice it, using a hot knife for best results.
After your fudge has been sliced and you’ve enjoyed a few pieces yourself, you will want to make sure that you are storing it properly so that it stays fresh.
You can store your fudge either at room temperature or in the fridge for up to five days in an airtight container. If you want it to last longer, however, you always have the option of sticking it into the freezer.
If you do decide to do this, wrap the pieces of fudge individually in parchment paper to prevent them from sticking together. Then, place the wrapped pieces into a resealable bag.
In the freezer, your fudge should last for about three months. When you are ready to serve it again, simply thaw it out by leaving it in the fridge for a few hours to thaw. Then, transfer to room temperature for a few more hours and serve.