Fudge contains basic ingredients, but it strikes fear in many bakers because one is never sure if it will set perfectly. It often seems like making consistently delicious fudge is a hit-and-miss process.
One batch will be mouthwateringly perfect squares that you can serve with pride. The next will remain a sloppy goop that no amount of refrigeration will set. Understanding the reasons why your fudge is not setting will enable you to create consistently mouthwatering fudge treats.
Fudge will be soft if the temperature of the mixture or the amount of time that it is boiled is not correct. Most fudge recipes specify the exact temperature that the mixture must reach. If it is not boiled long enough or does not get hot enough, the result will be soft fudge.
Making perfect fudge has a lot to do with science. Creating fudge of the consistently correct texture can be quite a daunting undertaking unless you understand the chemical process that is taking place with the sugar as it is heated.
Luckily, you can learn a few fudge-pro secrets that will make your fudge the envy of everyone at every bake sale.
Why Is My Fudge Soft?
There are two types of ‘soft fudge.’ Some are more sticky toffee-like, while others simply won’t set at all. Both cases are temperature-related. The sugar in the fudge must reach and maintain a specific cooking temperature for a set time to set successfully.
Cause of soft fudge: sticky toffee variety – the mixture may not have got hot enough.
Cause of soft fudge – the ingredients didn’t boil long enough for sufficient water to evaporate out of the mix.
Although cooking times for fudge vary, one must carefully watch the cooking process to know when the mixture has reached fudgy perfection. The exact point may vary according to the recipe you are using, but this is usually between 234 and 239°F. It helps if you have a candy thermometer.
If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can drop a small blob of the mixture into cold water. The drop should form a soft ball when it contacts the water.
The notes regarding time in your recipe should only be a guideline. You should be guided by the temperature reading on the candy thermometer or continuously do cold water tests until the mixture is perfect.
Can I Fix Fudge That Is Too Soft?
If your mixture reached the correct temperature while cooking but is still soft, it is likely that it did not get to a high enough temperature. Return the gooey mixture to the pot and add at least 1 to 1.5 cups of water.
Then redo the cooking stage and check using the cold water test or candy thermometer that the correct temperature is definitely reached.
How Does the Amount of Beating Affect Fudge?
Every experienced fudge maker knows that making a batch of this delicious treat is an arm workout. Once the hot mixture has been removed from the heat and cooled for at least 15 minutes, it must be beaten.
Beating is usually done by hand, but you can also use an electric mixer, provided you are extremely vigilant not to overbeat.
To get it to set to the correct creamy solid consistency, you need to take careful note of the changes taking place in the bowl. Beat energetically using a wooden spoon. If you overbeat it, the mixture will become too hard and may crystalize.
However, if you don’t beat for long enough, it won’t set, and your fudge will be soft.
When Should I Turn Fudge Into The Pan?
Beating a fudge mixture for a sufficient time after it has boiled at the correct temperature will ensure that it sets correctly. Usually, the length of time needed to notice a change in consistency in the bowl is between 5 and 15 minutes.
While beating the fudge mixture, you will suddenly feel resistance as it begins to thicken suddenly. You will also notice that it starts going from shiny looking to matte in a matter of seconds.
If you want to add any nuts or extra bits, now is the time. Once you have given the mixture a final swirl with the spoon, immediately scoop it onto the prepared tray.
How Long Does Fudge Need To Set?
Waiting for fudge to set requires patience. It is not something that you can make an hour or two before you want to serve it. Fudge should set at room temperature in about 3 hours. For best results, you should leave it to get firm overnight.
An important tip is not to try to cut the fudge into squares until it is properly set. Use a large chef’s knife to cut small squares. The blade should glide through the mixture and come out clean after each cut. If it is too soft, you can attempt to save it by adding water and reheating it to a higher temperature.
Fudge should be served in small, yummy squares.
What Can I Do With Fudge That Flops?
If you are a novice fudge maker and your fudge did not set the first time, don’t give up! The chances are good that only the texture isn’t correct, and it still tastes delicious. So while you may not be able to serve it in neat little firm squares as you’d hoped, there are some other treats that you can make with it.
- Use it as fudge sauce over ice cream! Simply add some water and reheat, but don’t make it too hot. Get it to the correct thick, yummy consistency and spoon delicious fudge sauce over desserts while still warm.
- It may be too soft to set into squares, but it is probably the perfect consistency to use between cake layers. Delicious fudge frosted layer cake may become your family’s next favorite!
- If it is too soft and you don’t want to try reheat and reset it, spoon it into individual wine glasses and top with whipped cream and some nuts or chocolate flakes. Let it cool in the fridge for an hour or two before serving, and voila, you will have fancy professional-looking individual desserts.
- Use it as a decadent frosting on warm brownies.
Mastering how to bake fudge that is firm and holds its form is an art that not everyone gets right the first time. The two most essential elements to creating fudge that sets consistently are cooking the ingredients for long enough at the required heat.
Practice makes perfect and learning how to make delectable fudge every time is definitely worth the effort.
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.