The Kitchen Reader Cookie Exchange: Fudge

December 15, 2009

This month instead of reading a book, The Kitchen Reader group is doing a blog cookie exchange. I was all set to post some chocolate cookies and then Jennifer sent a reminder about the cookie exchange and also reminded us that we’re supposed to post a recipe that has special meaning to us. Crap. The chocolate cookies are really good but they have no meaning. So I looked through the file of recipes from my grandmas and decided to make fudge. While it’s not a cookie, it’s something that my Grandma Dorothy made every Christmas and it was always so delicious. Both of my grandmas made all kinds of treats at Christmas and I’m sorry that I was only interested in eating them and never thought to learn how to make them. I can pull a few things off by using the recipes, but I missed out on all the inside tips and some quality time with my grandmas. I’m not really that crazy about fudge, but being able to have my grandma’s fudge again would make me crazy about fudge.

How about some fudge under the tree this year?

I didn’t intend for this to turn into a science experimment, but as often happens with recipes from a long time ago, the fudge recipe doesn’t have much in the way of instructions.

Attempt #1: I followed the minimal instructions on my grandma’s recipe. The result was something like a chocolate caramel. Not bad at all – kind of a chewy, gooey chocolate candy. But it wasn’t fudge. And after a few hours, it wasn’t chewy and gooey anymore.

Attempt #2: I looked in the Joy of Cooking and was happy to find a recipe that was very similar to my grandma’s but had much more detailed instructions. I also realized that the one word in my grandma’s recipe that I couldn’t read must say “beat” and I didn’t do any beating in my first attempt. I made another batch of fudge using my grandma’s ingredients (plus a pinch of salt) and following the Joy of Cooking instructions. The result was kind of dry and crumbly. It tasted good and was kind of like a dry fudge. I was trying to make a moist, fudgy fudge.

Attempt #3: I decided to try one more time, modifying a few of the things I did in the previous attempt. In attempt #2, I put the saucepan of fudge in a pan of cool water to cool it down more quickly. The Joy of Cooking instructions said that it was OK to do this. But some of the fudge solidified on the bottom of the pan, so I decided not to do that again. I also decided to beat with a wooden spoon instead of an electric mixer. I’m sure that back in the day they used a spoon, plus I looked at a couple of recipes online and it sounded like beating by hand was the way to go. With those modifications, I followed the Joy of Cooking instructions again.

Was the third time the charm?

It wasn’t too shabby! The consistency is nice and soft and it’s sweet and chocolaty just like fudge should be. For what it’s worth, here’s an extreme close-up.

The fudge I remember was softer and moister than this, but it’s been many many years since I’ve had it. My fudge probably is a bit different, but my memories probably aren’t totally accurate either.

This is what I’d call an old-fashioned fudge recipe: no marshmallows or sweetened condensed milk, and you do need to pull out your candy thermometer. If you have a copy of The Joy of Cooking, take a look at the recipe for Fudge Cockaigne; it’s very similar to the recipe I made (My book says 41st printing, June 1986). I was going to post it here, but I think it still needs more work. I also noticed that I didn’t follow the Joy of Cooking instructions as closely as I thought I did…oops. I’m all fudged out right now, but I think attempt #4 isn’t too far away. Check out The Kitchen Reader blogroll to see what the others made for the cookie exchange!


  1. Fudge is my absolute nemesis – and I just made a batch (you can read about it tomorrow).

    However, I like the extreme close-up. 🙂

  2. I heart fudge, but never have attempted it. Great job.

  3. I haven’t made fudge in ages–this looks yummy!

  4. Yum! I always make fudge at least once in the winter. I do use condensed milk and fluff. Cheater.

  5. I love that you tried this multiple times! Especially that you tried to replicate something your grandmother’s would have made. Fudge is such a wonderful Christmas-y treat. I can’t wait to see how attempt #4 goes! Keep us posted!

    Thank you SO much for your advice and help in starting The Kitchen Reader-I couldn’t have done it without you.:)

  6. I made fudge once this year, but have no clue whether it was the easy method or not – it just took forever! Fudge is so vintage Christmas – I love it! Kudos for all your attempts – it looks absolutely delicious!

  7. Three tries? Impressive! It looks really yummy. I’ve never attempted fudge since I’m not a huge fan (I ate way too much as a child), but I think it would be fun to try.

  8. I’m just salivating at the thought of fudge! It looks so successful.

  9. Fudge requires few ingredients but it is so hard to make! You are courageous to have persevere until you got it! 🙂

  10. I love fudge but it can be tricky!

  11. I love a challenge, too. I haven’t made fudge before, but I would like to learn how. It was not something by family made growing up, but I have bought it at fudge shops! I think homemade would be even better.

  12. It looks luscious – there’s nothing like chcocolate fudge.

  13. I love the experimenting that comes with recreating those childhood recipes. It *is* like a science experiment. Glad yours turned out in the end!

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