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I have never been a huge fan of fudge. Every summer vacation, one of the quaint seaside fudge shops always manages to tempt me into giving it another go, but after a bite I'm tossing it to the seagulls.
The hallmark of actually tasty fudge is silky melt-in-your-mouth texture. To achieve it, granulated sugar (which has large coarse crystals), is usually heated with cream and unsweetened chocolate until it's dissolved, and then the mixture is boiled to 238 degrees to reach the proper moisture level. The mixture is then left to cool until just warm (110 degrees). Finally, to become fudge, the chocolate mixture needs to be stirred until crystals form again and it thickens. The crystals are what sets the fudge, but they're very small, so the fudge feels like satin.
Unfortunately there's plenty of room for error with classic fudge recipes. If crystals form too fast, you end up with grainy fudge. If not enough moisture is removed during the cooking process, or if the crystals refuse to set during the stirring process, the fudge will be too soft. Still with me?
If you're not a risk taker, if you're candy-thermometer challenged, or if you're just feeling lazy, this easy fudge recipe is as simple as it gets. This fudge by-passes all the sugar shenanigans of authentic fudge by swapping the sugar and cream for sweetened condensed milk.
This fudge by-passes all the sugar shenanigans of traditional fudge recipes by swapping the sugar and cream for sweetened condensed milk. This super concentrated solution of evaporated milk and sugar is sweet, thick, and low in moisture. By melting it with chocolate and then letting it chill, the result is a creamy, firm texture that sets without having to rely on crystallization.
A three-way combination of bittersweet, unsweetened chocolate, and cocoa blasts the fudge with deep chocolate flavor. Butter adds a rich decadence that most lean fudges lack. And what better than the bitter edge of crisp chopped walnuts to balance it all out. Call it a mock fudge if you like, but it's foolproof, fudgy, and fast.
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About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore and is currently at work constructing her new blog, "ShopHouseCook".