I must admit, fudge is one of my absolute favorite candies. Maybe it’s the season, but I really can’t think of any candy I find more delectable, and it is both a shame and a blessing that I only really eat it under two circumstances: when I go to the beach, and at Christmas time.
Despite my seasonal obsession with fudge, until last year I thought that actually making fudge was an impossible feat, requiring mysterious candy tools and magical fudge elves. And as far as I’m concerned most fudge recipes are indeed nearly impossible to the beginner. There are candy thermometers to decipher (and probably purchase, for most of you), delicate balances to monitor, and the ever-tricky question of whether or not the final texture will be all it promises to be–in my experience, even fudge purchased from candy stores can often be grainy, crumbly, too hard, too soft…I even had some recently that I could only describe as mealy, and that was enough to send me straight home to make a batch the foolproof and delicious way.
But I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. The Best Part is that this fudge recipe is more a blueprint than a recipe, and it is extremely easy to adapt to make just about any flavor of fudge your heart should desire. You need one can of sweetened condensed milk, and 3 cups of Stuff. That’s it! If you like dark chocolate, milk chocolate, bittersweet, or white chocolate, make 2 cups of your Stuff chocolate chips of your favorite variety. Then, choose a bonus flavor for your remaining 1 cup of Stuff–it can be peanut butter chips, minty chips, nuts of any variety, toffee bits, you name it! Stir it all together over low heat until melted, pour it out and let it cool, then eat! A little something to decorate the top is helpful too, but not required. It is as easy as that.
Yes, there will be those of you who will say this is cheating. But I’m telling you, I’ve tried both ways, and besides getting practice using a candy thermometer, I literally cannot think of ANY reason to make fudge the hard way. If I can leave you with a couple of quick tips, they would only be that low heat on the stove is really important, as is frequent stirring and a watchful eye so you can take it off the stove the moment everything is gooey and uniform. Also, don’t be tempted to speed the solidification of your fudge by sticking it in the fridge–the few times I’ve tried this, it has messed up the final texture. I like my fudge gooey, melt-in-your-mouth, but still with something a tad firm about it, and if you refrigerate it it often ends up too hard.
Fail-Proof, Choose Your Own Adventure Fudge
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups chocolate chips (dark, bittersweet, milk, white)
1 cup extras: different flavor of chocolate, peanut butter chips, mint chips, toffee bits, pecans, walnuts, etc
Optional: a flavoring, if you so desire, or a crushed topping
Over low heat, mix chocolate chips, extras (unless they are nuts, in which case add them after everything else is melted), and sweetened condensed milk. Stir frequently until everything is melty and even. Line a pan with wax or parchment paper, then pour warm fudge into pan (I usually use a 9×9 square, but you can use a 13×9 for thinner fudge or a loaf pan for thicker). If you’re putting a topping on it, be sure to put it on before it starts to harden, or else it won’t stick and will just crumble off later. Allow to harden for at least 3 hours, then cut into squares and enjoy! You can wrap individual squares in parchment paper as a gift, or just enjoy from the pan.
Chocolate Peanut Butter: 2 cups (1 bag) milk chocolate chips, 1 cup peanut butter chips, 1 can milk, and smooth peanut butter to swirl over the top of the fudge
Chocolate Peppermint: 2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips, 1 cup mint chips, 1 can milk, crushed peppermints (or crushed candy cane hershey kisses) for the top
Dark Chocolate Toffee Pecan: 2 cups dark chocolate, 1/2 cup toffee pieces, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1 can milk, more toffee and pecans for the top
Maple Walnut: 2 cups white chocolate, 1 can milk, 1 cup chopped walnuts, 1/2 to 1 t maple flavoring, depending on the yumminess of your maple flavoring and how mapley you want it to be (add a little, then taste, then add more if you want). Decorate top with walnut halves.
Chocolate Hazelnut: 2 cups milk or bittersweet chocolate, 1 can milk, 1/2 cup hazelnuts, nutella to warm and drizzle over the top