There’s nothing like a good piece of fudge.
Chocolate fudge, vanilla fudge, nut-free fudge, all of it is gloriously good. You might taste it and think that it’s a work of art.
However, it would be more accurate to call it a work of science. Fudge-making, like every other kind of dessert, is all about chemistry.
The key to crafting the perfect piece of fudge lies in proper crystallization of the sugar involved. It’s the miniscule sugar crystals that provide fudge with its smooth texture. Get those crystals to come together at the precise moment, and you’ve mastered the art of fudge making.
The basics of fudge making work like this:
- Sugar is dissolved in liquid ingredients (cream and butter)
- Corn syrup prevents large crystals of sugar from forming
- This mixture is cooked until what’s called the “soft ball” stage. Simply put, if you drop the syrupy sugar into cold water, it rolls itself into a ball
- Slowly cool the mixture, then stir it to form small crystals
During the fudge-making process, acid and heat work in tandem to turn white sugar – or sucrose – into its two base components, fructose and glucose and keep the sucrose from turning into large crystals. Butter helps control the sucrose molecules as well.
Another key factor is the temperature. If the fudge mixture cools down too fast, or becomes too agitate during the cooling period, bigger crystals can begin to form.
But who figured all this out? Who was the Thomas Edison or Isaac Newton of fudge?
We may never know. Like penicillin, Play-Doh and the microwave, fudge is a landmark creation that was discovered by accident…at least according to legend.
The Origins of Fudge
The story of fudge begins more than 130 years ago, but no one is quite sure who cooked up the first batch. But the story goes something like this:
Sometime in the 1800s, a chef was trying to make caramel, but got it all wrong. They “fudged” the recipe – hence the name – and ended up creating a whole new treat.
Still, this was a completely unnamed person. The first time fudge makes it into the historical record is in 1886, when Emelyn Hartridge, a student at Vassar College, purchased some fudge from a grocery store in Baltimore.
It was a simple enough recipe: two cups of sugar, 1 cup of cream, a tablespoon of butter and two ounces of unsweetened chocolate.
In 1888, Hartridge used this recipe to make her own fudge, which she sold at her college’s senior auction. Soon, fudge became a prized delicacy among other women’s colleges like Smith and Wellesly, each of them inventing their own take on the dessert.
As time went on, other people would tinker with fudge recipes, adding things like molasses and marshmallows, while purists insisted that fudge was and would remain butter, sugar, cream and chocolate. (If you’re a fan of nut-free fudge, you may lean towards the purist camp.)
There is an art and a science to making great nut-free fudge. Yet not everyone is an artist or scientist in the kitchen.
That’s what we’re here for. Skip’s Candies has been crafting nut-free fudge and other delicacies for more than 25 years.
Whether you’re a fan of classic chocolate fudge or seasonal flavors like pumpkin, we have something to tempt your sweet tooth. Buy online or in store to see – and taste – for yourself.