My mother’s side of the family takes fudge pretty seriously. You see, every year around Christmastime, my grandfather would make each of his children’s family a batch of his special fudge. I remember getting so excited when we were told that Grampa was going to stop by. Neither the visits, nor the fudge lasted long, but those fond memories have stuck with me after all these years.
I remember one of my aunts making a batch of fudge at a moment’s notice, sometimes more than once a week. She would spread it into the pan then add colorful sprinkles. Sugar on top of sugar – seems ok to me! I never knew if the recipe she used was my grandfather’s or not, but it tasted good just the same.
A couple of years ago, my mother and one of her other sisters decided to seek out the recipe for my grandfather’s famous-in-our-family fudge. I don’t think either of them actually asked him for the recipe. I had sent my Grampa a message last year asking for the recipe because my oldest son was interested in making some fudge. I still haven’t gotten a reply. Maybe they got the same answer as I did. Somehow, my mother and my aunt decided that the recipe was from the back of an old Hershey’s cocoa powder can.
I was eager to try the recipe to see how it compared to my memory of my Grampa’s fudge. After trying the recipe that my mother and aunt swear by, I came to the conclusion that either my memory of how good the fudge was had been greatly exaggerated over time by my mind (which I doubt), or they had it wrong and this wasn’t the right recipe at all.
I ended up dumping the fudge. I wasn’t about to listen to my kids complain that even though the fudge was brown, it didn’t taste much like chocolate. I decided to revamp the recipe and try again. This time, I switched up the type of chocolate – using Dutch processed cocoa instead of regular unsweetened cocoa powder and added more of it. I also decided that using dark brown sugar as opposed to granulated sugar would deepen the flavor and make for a smoother end result. I upped the butter and the salt, and used half and half instead of milk. Ok, so maybe this isn’t even the same recipe at all, but it needed a lot of fixing.
Now, this fudge is rich, creamy, and chocolate-y enough to satisfy my family’s fudge craving – even though it’s not exactly like Grampa’s.
**This fudge is dense, smooth, and creamy. If you are looking for an ultra firm, crumbly-when-bitten fudge variety — this is not it!
** The smaller the pan, the thicker the fudge. I used an 11 x 7 brownie pan, but they ended up being a bit on the thin side. For thicker pieces, use an 8×8 pan.
**Allow the beaten fudge mixture to pour into your prepared pan. Trying to spread the mixture will only result in an unsmoothed top — not pretty but still delicious.
- 3c dark brown sugar
- 1c Dutch processed cocoa (Hershey's Special Dark would also work well here)
- 1½c half and half
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Combine first four ingredients in a 4qt (or larger -- this is very important! This mixture will bubble over if too small of a pan is used.) sauce pan. Whisk to combine.
- Heat over medium high heat, stirring often.
- Once the mixture reaches a boil, stop stirring and continue to let it boil until a candy thermometer reads between 235 - 240 degrees. This takes about 9-12 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla.
- Allow the mixture to cool until the candy thermometer reads 110 degrees, about 45 minutes.
- Either beat the fudge by hand for 20-25 minutes until it begins to lose its shine, or beat in a stand mixer for 8-10 minutes, on the lowest setting.
- Transfer beaten fudge to a parchment lined pan.
- Allow fudge to cool at room temperature for 2-3 hours until set. Alternatively, you can cool the fudge in the fridge for 1- 1½ hours.
- Cut into desired sizes.