Peanut butter and chocolate is one of the tastiest, decadent flavor combinations for desserts out there. To combine those two flavors in the form of delicious fudge candy is a stroke of genius.
However, sometimes your long-awaited batch of peanut butter fudge doesn’t turn out as expected. Instead of fluffy, creamy fudge pieces, you may find yourself forcing your way through dry, crumbly bits of candy.
Fudge is a relatively forgiving candy to make, but that doesn’t mean that it does not come with its pitfalls. A few small errors can dry out your fudge.
Here are a few reasons why your peanut butter fudge may be dry and how to fix it.
How to Make Peanut Butter Fudge
Before you can understand how to salvage dry peanut butter fudge, it is important to understand how to make it.
First, boil sugar with milk or cream over melted butter. Stir the sugar until it dissolves into the mixture and it begins to boil, then leave it alone.
Once the fudge concoction is done boiling, let it cool for a few minutes. Then, add peanut butter and other flavorings, such as vanilla extract, and pour into a pan to cool.
Peanut butter fudge contains a deceptively simple list of ingredients: peanut butter, cream, condensed milk, butter, and sugar. However, because the recipe is so simple, that easily leads to problems if you use the wrong technique.
While you are making the fudge, you need to pay careful attention to the temperature of the mixture and any sugar crystals that may be forming.
1 – The Sugar Didn’t Dissolve Enough
One of the most common culprits of dry fudge is undissolved sugar. The sugar crystals break up the texture of the fudge, so instead of smooth, creamy fudge, you get crumbly chunks of dry fudge.
The best way to treat this problem is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Be sure that all of the sugar in your fudge is completely dissolved as you are boiling it. Continue beating until you cannot see any sugar grains.
If the sugar is having trouble dissolving, that could mean that you don’t have enough fat, so add a splash more cream or butter.
2 – The Fudge Crystallized
When fudge crystallizes, it develops a gritty texture that feels like dry grain under your teeth instead of smooth candy.
Crystallization is caused by agitating the sugar too much during the fudge-making process. To avoid crystals forming, do not stir the sugar after the fudge mixture begins to boil.
To prevent sugar crystals from developing on the side of the pot while the fudge cooks, go over the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush to stop sugar from sticking to the sides.
Finally, let the fudge cool for about 15 minutes before beating it. This allows it to develop the right size of sugar crystals before it reaches its final form.
3 – The Peanut Butter Did Not Set Properly
Peanut butter is a delicious treat, but anyone who’s had a few spoonfuls too many knows that it can sometimes dry out your mouth.
If your peanut butter doesn’t set properly in your fudge, it could dry out the rest of the mixture.
To ensure that peanut butter sets properly, be sure to cook the fudge mixture thoroughly. If you need to, heat the fudge to a higher temperature and boil for longer. If you’ve noticed that it didn’t set properly only after it started cooling, you can reheat the fudge with a little more evaporated milk.
4 – You Overcooked the Fudge
Many bakers are nervous about not cooking the fudge enough and not properly dissolving the sugar. This leads to them making a mistake on the other end and cooking the fudge for too long.
Overcooked fudge is tough and hard to the touch. However, it is not completely unsalvageable.
To redo overcooked fudge, just melt it down and repeat the process. This time, try to cook it for less time.
If you are consistently having an issue with overcooking your fudge, then the problem could be with your candy thermometer. Although you can make fudge without a candy thermometer, having one makes the process easier because you know at what temperature to cook and cool the fudge. If yours is giving you inaccurate readings, replace it and try to make fudge again.
How to Salvage Dry Fudge
Sometimes, despite your best efforts and adjustments during the cooking process, your fudge will still turn out dry and grainy. That doesn’t mean that you have to choke through dry candy.
The Plastic Bag Method
To save dry fudge, just put it into a plastic bag with a slice of bread or a damp paper towel. Once you seal the bag, leave the fudge with the bread or paper towel overnight.
As your fudge is sealed in the bag, the moisture from the bread or paper towel is forced to circulate. The fudge absorbs this moisture and in the morning, it should be soft and fluffy again.
Using a Microwave
Sometimes, the reason that your peanut butter fudge is dry has nothing to do with any mistakes during the cooking process. You simply left it out on your counter for too long.
To salvage dry, stale fudge, just pop it into the microwave for about 15 seconds. This burst of heat will freshen up the fudge and bring back the creamy, smooth texture that you love.
For best results, cut the fudge into small pieces before popping it into the microwave. This increases the surface area of the fudge that is exposed to the microwave and increases how much it softens.
Remake the Fudge
Sometimes, the only way to salvage dry or crumbly fudge is to repeat the process. However, you don’t have to start completely from scratch.
To remake your existing batch of fudge, scrape the dried bits into a saucepan and add one-and-a-half to two cups of water, stirring over a low heat until the fudge mixture dissolves.
Then, boil the mixture to a medium heat. You may need to add more peanut butter or vanilla as the water will dilute the fudge’s taste. As the fudge boils, brush the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush but avoid stirring to prevent crystallization.
This time, be sure to heat and cool the mixture to the precise temperatures specified in your recipe. Once it is cooled, beat it until it is thick.
Hopefully, redoing the fudge will yield a smooth, fluffy texture this time instead of dry, crumbly peanut butter fudge.
How to Get Consistent Peanut Butter Fudge
Fudge is a relatively easy candy to make, but it still takes some precision. The addition of a flavoring such as peanut butter will affect the texture of the fudge and could make it dry out.
There are a few reasons why your peanut butter fudge is dry. You could have overcooked it or underbeat the mixture, not allowing the sugar to dissolve properly. The peanut butter also could not have set properly, causing a gummy, dry texture.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to salvage dry peanut butter fudge, ranging from simply microwaving it to melting it down and starting again.
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.