I’ve always been a fan of fudge. Real, honest fudge, not that stuff that calls itself fudge but is really just condensed milk and marshmallow fluff.
The thing is, though, that the milk-and-marshmallow stuff got popular because it almost always works. You see, baking and candy-making involve science; if the conditions aren’t met, the product doesn’t work. That’s why cakes fall and custards split and fudge seizes; something in the process or in the ingredients wasn’t quite right, and the whole thing goes to hell.
Here, though, is a recipe that is pretty consistent, once you get the technique down. I’ve made several batches of this with round success (if we except the first attempt, when I tried to usurp the process by speeding the cooling, which resulted in the aforementioned seizure, so let’s not mention that, shall we..?).
Start with a heavy saucepan. To that, add 2 cups of white sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, and 1 tablespoon of corn syrup (it doesn’t seem like much, but remember what I said about science; the stuff’s in there for a reason). Then, dump in 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder (I don’t level the tablespoons; the cocoa’s in there for flavor, not science) and a half a cup of chocolate chips. On top of all that, pour 2/3 of a cup of cream (I’ve used half and half consistently with great success). Give it a stir and let everything melt together over medium heat.
Once everything’s melted and smooth, get a pastry brush wet and brush down the sides of the pan to get rid of whatever is clinging there (SCIENCE! Doing this keeps the sugar from re-crystallizing, and re-crystallizing is something you don’t want). Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure the bottom of the thermometer doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan, turn the heat up to medium-high and leave it alone. Don’t stir it, don’t swirl the pan, just leave it to happily bubble along.
Eventually – and it’ll feel like it’s going to take FOREVER to get there, but believe me, it will get there, so keep an eye on it – it’ll reach about 234° on the candy thermometer. Once it does, take the pan off the heat and set it on a cooling rack – don’t stir it, don’t swirl it, and leave the candy thermometer where it is; you’ll want to check in on it periodically as it cools because you’ve got work to do when it settles down to about 110°.
While you’re waiting for the cooling to happen, get an 8×8 inch glass pan and butter it well.
Once your candy gets to 110°, take the candy thermometer out, get yourself a sturdy wooden spoon, and start stirring the crap out of it. This is going to be a lot harder than you expect, but that’s okay – just think of it as working off the calories you’re about to consume. After about 5 or 7 minutes of furious stirring, your fudge will start to thicken and lose its glossy sheen; THAT’S when to pour it into the prepared pan, smooth it out with a spatula, and let it cool the rest of the way down (at this point, you can fridge it, but don’t try to speed the first cooling process by putting the pan in the fridge or on the back porch… trust me on this).
This really is a lovely recipe, and I hope you are as successful with it as I have been!