You’ve found it! The best chocolate fudge recipe — a classic, old-fashioned, chocolate fudge recipe made with simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry (no condensed milk here).
I thrive on traditions.
More accurately, I thrive on traditions that revolve around food.
Christmas Eve just wouldn’t be the same without my grandmother’s home cooked dinner (roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, buttered broccoli, the works). Birthdays require cake (last year Zach tried to tell me he didn’t need a cake, not realizing this was non-negotiable), and every Easter my siblings and I make homemade Easter candy together.
And, every Valentine’s Day, my mom makes a big batch of old-fashioned chocolate fudge for us to enjoy. Not just any fudge — the best chocolate fudge — creamy, rich, soft and chocolaty, made with plain and simple everyday ingredients: sugar, milk, corn syrup (not to be confused with high fructose corn syrup, these are not the same thing), chocolate, butter and vanilla. No condensed milk, no evaporated milk, and no marshmallow fluff is used here, only basic ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
I can’t remember exactly when my mom first started making it, but fudge can be tricky and a bit time-consuming and so she made it a once-a-year thing, a Valentine’s Day tradition. On this highly anticipated day, she carefully measures and manipulates the ingredients, bringing them to a boil and checking her thermometer for “soft ball” stage. Finally, after a lengthy cooling period, my siblings and I were allowed to analyze the results.
When she first started making fudge, sometimes it would come out a bit grainy on her first attempt (especially since, trying to satiate the chocolate greed of 6 children, she would double the batch, which I do not recommend you try when making candy), but that never stopped my siblings or myself from devouring each and every last delectable chocolate crumb.
At this point, though, she definitely has this recipe down, and I wanted to share it here, with you. I called her numerous times throughout the process to make sure I had all of her tricks and tips so please make sure to carefully read them before beginning. If you follow the instructions carefully, you shouldn’t have any problem (but don’t be discouraged if things don’t come out perfectly the first time; candy making is a skill that may take more than one attempt!).
I’d hoped to have this fudge recipe up on the blog a lot sooner, but I had to keep making and re-making it until I was certain that I had it down. So here are the tips and tricks gleaned from my mother and from lots of trial and error on my part that should help you end up with perfect fudge every time:
- Don’t crank your heat up too high when bringing your mixture to a boil. Medium-high does not mean high-high to speed up the boiling process. Fudge takes patience. Break your chocolate into pieces (they don’t have to be too small or chopped, but don’t just toss a whole block in there) and allow it time to melt while the mixture comes to a boil. Don’t stop stirring (with a wooden spoon) this whole time.
- Don’t scrape the sides of the bowl above the mixture line. Chocolate, sugar, and milk will spatter the sides. Use a damp pastry brush to clear this off of the sides of the pot because the granules from the sugar can make your fudge too grainy if they fall back into the mixture.
- I recommend using room temperature butter when you add it to the fudge mixture. Perhaps it would be fine to use cold, but I do not want to do anything to “shock” the fudge and make it drop its temperature too rapidly, so I use room temperature butter and have gotten better results with this.
- Once you add your butter and vanilla DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES stir your mixture, you want to disturb it as little as possible. The butter will melt as it cools, and you will stir it in later. Please, leave it alone until the temperature dips just below 110F, not a degree before then.
- Once you finally dip below 110F, stir, stir, stir… but don’t stir too much. I know, this is vague, and it may take you more than one try to get a knack for this. For perfect fudge, you want to stir until the mixture begins to lose its glossy sheen and is thick, this can take a few minutes. Stirring fudge can be a workout, keep going without stopping, and it’s not a bad idea to have someone else nearby ready to help you with the stirring if you’ve been skipping arm-day at the gym.
- When stirring your fudge for the final time and pouring it into your prepared pan, don’t scrape the sides of the bowl above the mixture line — again, you want to keep those granules out of the fudge.
There you have it. A perfect fudge recipe and some tips to make sure it comes out perfectly. If you have any questions or need some help trouble-shooting, please feel free to drop your questions in the comments section and I’ll see if I can help.
Maybe it’s time for you to incorporate this recipe into your own food traditions.
Best Chocolate Fudge
- You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe
- 3 cups sugar granulated
- 1 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
- 2 oz unsweetened chocolate broken into pieces, 100% cocoa
- 3 Tbsp salted butter room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Generously butter an 8x8 baking dish and set aside.
Lightly dampen a pastry brush and keep nearby the stove.
In medium-sized saucepan combine sugar, milk, corn syrup and chocolate over medium heat.
Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly, occasionally brushing the side of the pot with the pastry brush to remove crystals that might fall into your fudge.
Once mixture begins to boil, attach your candy thermometer to the pot (make sure the bottom of the thermometer isn't touching the bottom of the pan).
Stir mixture occasionally until your thermometer reads 238F (soft ball stage).
Immediately remove pan from heat and add your butter and vanilla extract. Do not stir the butter and vanilla! Allow it to set and melt
Leave mixture undisturbed until your candy thermometer reads 110F.
Now, using a clean wooden spoon, begin to stir the mixture vigorously (be careful not to scrape the sides or you may knock sugar crystals into the fudge, causing grainy fudge) until it begins to lose its shiny sheen and thicken (It will take a good bit of stirring before the fudge is just right, your arms will get tired and it's not a bad idea to have a back-up stirrer... seriously!)
Immediately once the fudge begins to thicken pour into prepared 8x8 pan.
Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.
*Please see notes in post for tips and best results
For an easy, no candy thermometer required fudge recipe, try this Cookie Dough Fudge:
Or get more use out of your candy thermometer with these Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows
Or try these Salted Caramel Buttercream Candies: