I’m not convinced I could of made a successful batch of fudge before I had kids. Making a creamy, rich fudge candy requires patience, focus and, at times, a tolerance for pain — all traits I’ve come to master as a Mom. Just like parenting, a great fudge is totally worth all of the effort and once you find your groove you’ll wonder what life was like before you had homemade eggnog fudge.
I really wanted to include fudge in my holiday gift baskets this year but had never actually made it before. I have this clear memory of the Lamaze teacher we saw preparing for Edie’s birth, suggesting that we think of labour like “preparing the fudge. Just keep stirring. Just keep stirring. Ignore the pain and focus on the fudge.” At the time I thought she may be a lunatic. Trust me, once those labour pains started up fudge was the LAST thing on my mind. Now, post-babies and post-fudge making, I appreciate her message a bit more. Just keep stirring, just keep stirring and it will all work out.
From the 3 batches it took me to perfect this eggnog fudge recipe, I learned there are no shortcuts if you want a true creamy texture. Some recipes will suggest using a stand mixer to stir the hot fudge but I had no luck with that, even with a hand mixer on low the fudge became grainy. The problem is cooling the hot fudge mixture too quickly, by using a mixer or placing in the fridge too soon, can cause premature crystallization and result in lumpy, grainy fudge. The only way to ensure a great outcome is to stir it by hand. When the time and temperature is right, use a heavy wooden spoon to stir the fudge and make it thicker. I found it took about 15 to 20 minutes for the fudge to loose that certain sheen, this includes the 30 second breaks to shake out your cramping hand and wrist.
You know I’m all about experimenting but the secret to making great fudge is being precise. My tips for your successful treat-making mission, if you should accept it:
- Use an accurate candy thermometer and allow the mixture to reach the temperatures called for in the recipe before moving to the next step. I picked up a great Wilson brand thermometer for about $12 at a local Canadian Tire department store and will use it for all of my fudge, caramel and deep-fried treats.
- Add each ingredient in the order listed by the recipe.
- Vigorous stirring at the wrong time (after it’s reached the soft-ball stage) can actually promote crystallization of sugar into large grains. Small sugar crystals equal smooth fudge that melts on the tongue.
- Once the fudge reaches 240 degrees F/115 degrees C (the “soft-ball” stage), do not stir it or even shake the pan until it has cooled to about 110 degrees F/43 degrees C.
Don’t be discouraged, this seems like an intimidating amount of words describing the process. Making your very own fudge does require patience and focus but is honestly not that difficult. Do it right once and you’ll rock it every time. Use these tips and you’ll be populating the street, the school, the post office, etc. with your very own amazing Christmas fudge.
Prep Time: About an hour and a half
Total Time: Give yourself at least 3 hours before preparing to serve
Makes about 2 dozen 1″x1″ squares
- 3 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1.25 cups egg nog
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
Prepare an 8×8 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, eggnog, salt, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Using a heavy wooden spoon, stir constantly until the sugar dissolves. Insert a candy thermometer and continue to cook the candy, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 240°F degrees. This takes about 18 minutes.
Remove the pan (leaving the thermometer in place) from the heat and stir in the vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Just a quick fold and then drop the spoon. Allow the candy to sit and cool at room temperature until it is lukewarm, about 45 minutes or until it reaches 110°F.
Once the candy is barely warm to the touch, stir it by hand until the fudge becomes thick and creamy and loses its shine. Do not over-beat, or the fudge will be grainy. This will take about 15 minutes of intensive stirring. Take some breaks, shake it out, you’re just making room on your calorie counter for the delicious fudge.
Pour the fudge into the prepared pan, and smooth it into an even layer. Do not scrape the sides of the bowl, crystal may of formed and you don’t want them in the final product.
Allow the fudge to set at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Once set, cut it into small squares and serve at room temperature. Store remaining fudge in an airtight container or bag at room temperature for up to a week, or refrigerated for 2-3 weeks.Add to favorites