Let's talk about fudge. This old-fashioned candy isn't around much anymore, but we haven't forgotten about it. Penny candy shops sell fudge. Chocolatiers make it still, and across New England, you can pop into little stores and find it.

The soft, sweet confection is traditionally made with butter, sugar, and dairy. Heated to the soft-ball stage, it's beaten to a spreadable texture that firms up as it cools. While very sugary, good fudge is flavorful and creamy.

There are a few techniques for making good fudge. Today we're going to cover two basic methods: stovetop and microwave. Microwaving fudge is quick and easy, while the traditional stovetop method is slightly more complicated (but fun to master!).

Both yield delicious results, so I recommend trying each and deciding which method you prefer. I'll show you two simple recipes today (chocolate, eggnog, and peanut butter). These recipes are excellent building blocks for mastering the technique of making fudge and then experimenting from there. I'll give you some ideas for changing up the flavor and jazzing up the toppings.

Fudge is a fantastic edible gift for the holidays. It's nostalgic, sweet, and keeps well. So get out your gift list and let's get cooking!

Recipe 1: Microwave Chocolate Fudge

Chocolate is the most classic version of fudge. This easy recipe is made in the microwave instead of on the stovetop, so really all you have to do is measure and stir. How's that for instant candy gratification?

You'll need: 

2 cups (340g) chocolate chips or chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
one 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons (28g) butter, cold
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Basic fudge via @kingarthurflour

Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stopping to stir occasionally, until the chocolate is smooth.

Basic fudge via @kingarthurflour

Note on microwaving chocolate: To avoid scorching the chocolate, microwave it in short bursts (30 to 45 second intervals) at half power, stopping between each interval to stir the chocolate.

Basic fudge via @kingarthurflour

Add the condensed milk to the chocolate and stir until smooth. The mixture will thicken slightly. 

Basic fudge via @kingarthurflour

Cut the butter into small chunks and scatter it on top of the chocolate mixture. Microwave until the butter is melted, then stir to combine.

Basic fudge via @kingarthurflour

Add the vanilla and stir until smooth.

Basic fudge via @kingarthurflour

Pour the fudge into a foil- or parchment-lined 9" x 5" loaf pan. You can also butter the pan instead of lining it, but if you're planning on gifting the fudge, lining the pan makes it easier to lift the candy out neatly to slice it.

Basic fudge via @kingarthurflour

Let the fudge cool and firm up for several hours, or overnight. Slice, and then enjoy! Note how gorgeous and silky smooth the texture is.

Recipe 2: Stovetop Peanut Butter Fudge

Peanut butter lovers, rejoice. This decadent and creamy candy is nutty, sweet, and pretty much irresistible (if the empty pan in my kitchen is any indication!).

This stovetop recipe doesn't have any corn syrup, if you're averse to that ingredient, and it uses evaporated milk or light cream for the dairy.

Note: Our recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar. I used 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of turbinado sugar. Turbinado sugar has lovely, caramelized notes that pair wonderfully with peanut butter, and gives the fudge a richer and fuller taste. Try it if you like!

You'll need:

1 cup (234g) light cream or half and half
2 cups (397g) sugar
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons (57g) butter, cold
1 cup (50g) mini marshmallows
1 1/3 cups (340g) peanut butter, chunky or smooth
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Basic fudge via @kingarthurflour

Add all the ingredients, except for the marshmallows, peanut butter, and vanilla, to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until smooth. Once the mixture is boiling, stop stirring and allow it to come to the soft-ball stage, just as you did in the eggnog recipe.

Basic fudge via @kingarthurflour

Once the fudge reaches the soft-ball stage, remove it from the heat and stir in the marshmallows, peanut butter, and vanilla.

The marshmallows help to make it light, sweet, and creamy. Combined with the peanut butter, they give the fudge an ethereal texture and wonderful flavor.

You can use crunchy or creamy peanut butter, depending on the texture you want.

Basic fudge via @kingarthurflour

Once you stir the peanut butter and marshmallows in, pour the smooth fudge into a prepared pan and let it cool.

This recipe is a wonderful one to play around with. Fudge is a perfect candy to layer: Try spreading a layer of this fudge into a pan, letting it cool, then topping it with a layer of our easy microwave chocolate fudge. Give it to anyone who loves chocolate peanut butter cups, and prepare for an effusive outpouring of gratitude!

Now that you're armed with three tried-and-true fudge recipes, let the candy-making commence!

Do you like making fudge at home? Any favorite flavors? Let us know in the comments below! 

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About Posie Brien

Posie grew up on a farm in northern Maryland, graduated from Princeton University, and moved to New York to begin a career in food writing. After working in food editorial for publications like Tasting Table and Food52, she began her own website (600 Acres) which marries stories and recipes.   Posi...
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