When you think of fudge, do you think of the creamy, smooth, chewy type, or is your fantasy fudge crumbly and grainy? People are seriously divided over the type of fudge they prefer, which is often the type they grew up eating. Those on Team Chewy want smooth, rich, melt-in-your-mouth squashy goodness while Team Crumbly wants their fudge rough and dry. Of course, any treat that has chocolate and sugar as its main ingredients has to be delicious, right? Let’s find out what the differences are between these two types of fudge and how to make both.
1. Chewy Fudge
Chocolate fudge dates back to the United States in the late 1800s. It is traditionally made by cooking sugar, butter, and milk and beating it while it cools until it is smooth and creamy. It can be plain chocolate, or have other goodies added to it, such as nuts, dried fruit, and marshmallows.
The science of making fudge involves crystallization of sugar, but in order to get smooth fudge, it can’t crystallize too much, or too fast. Milk, butter, and corn syrup can inhibit rapid crystallization, so they are added to the sugar. Cooking the fudge at a lower temperature and letting it cool before beating it will also result in a smoother result.
2. Crumbly Fudge
Crumbly fudge has a much more interesting profile. While this dry, grainy, and brittle version is often referred to as “failed fudge,” it is actually Scottish tablet. Tablet is a very rich, traditional Scottish sweet made from butter, condensed milk, and sugar. Its origins precede fudge, as it is found in 18th-century cookbooks. This type of treat is harder than fudge, but not as hard as hard candy. The sugar is allowed to crystallize quickly by cooking it longer and at higher temperatures and by not having corn syrup, which would prevent crystallization. Beating the mixture before it cools will also lead to a gritty result. Basically, everything you don’t want to happen when making smooth fudge is what needs to happen to make this type of crumbly fudge.
3. Dairy-Free Fudge
Given that the main ingredients in fudge are sugar, butter, and milk, a few swap-outs will let us make yummy fudge that is dairy-free. Instead of dairy butter, you can use Homemade Vegan Butter. If you want even more chocolatey flavor, try using this Homemade Cocoa-Coconut Butter.
You have tons of choices when it comes to the milk. Full-fat coconut milk is a popular choice because it is rich and thick, like cream. It’s best when you refrigerate the can of coconut milk for at least 4-6 hours or overnight, if possible. Then use the thick cream and reserve the thinner liquid for something else. This Healthy Chocolate Avocado Fudge uses full-fat coconut milk.
Other non-dairy milks can be used as well. To help decide about non-dairy milks, check out Which Milk for What Recipe: A Non-Dairy Milk Guide for All Your Cooking and Baking Needs. Almond milk is used to make The World’s Healthiest Mounds Bar Fudge.
4. The Sweet Stuff
There are lots of choices when it comes to sweetening your fudge. Maple syrup is a healthier choice than refined sugar, and it is used to make this Raw Peanut Butter and Carob Fudge, Almond Butter Fudge, and 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge. Dates are another healthy alternative to refined sugar. Try them in this Espresso Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge. Brown sugar is used to make this Rum Raisin Fudge.
Of course, you want your fudge to be chocolatey, and you want to use the best chocolate. Choose dairy-free chocolate chips or baking chocolate. You can even learn how to make your own Homemade Dark Chocolate Chunks. If you want to make your decadent treat healthier, you can use cacao powder which is considered a superfood.
When it comes to fudge, let your imagination run wild and get as creative as you want. Add in flavor and texture with all sorts of tasty ingredients. Nut butters add creaminess and natural fats; try this Peanut Butter Fudge, Almond Butter Fudge, Orange and Almond Tahini Fudge Cups, and Raw Vegan Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fudge. Pumpkin puree can also add that creaminess, as in this Clean-Eating Pumpkin and Pecan Fudge.
Nuts add a little crunch to the soft fudge while dried fruits add a chewy texture. Try this Pomegranate and Pistachio Chocolate Fudge and Almond Butter Cranberry Fudge Bites. Marshmallow adds a spongy, chewy texture – try this 4-Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Marshmallow Fudge. Other flavor add-ins you might want to try include coffee, as in this Coffee Hazelnut Fudge and Espresso Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge. Try adding quinoa for a “crisped rice” effect, like this 5-Ingredient Vegan Quinoa Fudge. Chewy raisins, not to mention, a little booze add unique flavors in this Rum Raisin Fudge.
6. Making Vegan Fudge
We started this article with all the science involved in making fudge, and you can certainly make your vegan fudge that way, following the advice on how to make it smooth or grainy. You can caramelize the sugar, add non-dairy milk or cream, and stir until it comes to a boil.
For chewy, creamy fudge, allow the fudge batter to cool and use an electric mixer or wooden spoon to work it until it’s smooth and shiny. Fold in your add-ins and pour it into a lined pan. Do not scrape any of the mixture that is stuck to the sides or bottom of the saucepan. That will make it gritty. Let the fudge set in the refrigerator and enjoy.
For grainy, crumbly fudge, start stirring with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer immediately after the fudge batter comes to a boil. Add in any flavorings and keep stirring, until the fudge loses its shininess and starts looking grainy and thick. Then, quickly pour the batter into the lined baking dish and let it set in the refrigerator to set.
Or, you can do it the easy way. Just line a baking pan with parchment paper. If you are using chocolate chips or chunks, melt the chocolate in a saucepan, or the microwave until it’s smooth and glossy. See How to Temper Chocolate and Fix It When It Goes Wrong for tips.
Combine all your main ingredients – the chocolate, the nut butters, vegan butter, the sweeteners, liquid flavors such as vanilla or coffee, and salt in a blender or food processor and combine until everything is well-mixed. Fold in any nuts, marshmallows, or dried fruit. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and spread it evenly with a spatula. Place in the fridge for a few hours until it sets. Then, just cut into squares and dig in!
7. More Recipes
Now that you know all the science and how easy it actually is to make fudge, you’re probably going to want to try your hand at making some. We have plenty of delicious recipes to help you along. Love raw desserts? Try this Raw Peanut Butter and Carob Fudge, Raw White Chocolate Coconut Fudge Bites, Rich Raw Chocolate Fudge, and Raw Maca Fudge.
Other recipes that your sweet tooth will thank you for include this Besan Barfi (Date and Chickpea Fudge), Peanut Butter Popcorn Fudge, Healthy Peanut Butter Maple Banana Fudge, Healthiest Vegan Fudge Ever, Vegan Mocha Fudge, and Doodh Pedha (Indian Milk Fudge), You Can Make in 10 Minutes.
Plus, you can add fudge to other desserts for double decadence. Try this Fudgy Beetroot chocolate Cake with Pink Frosting, Raw Chocolate Fudge Cake, and these No-Bake Fudge Brownies. For even more recipes, see Oh Fudge! 20 Vegan Recipes for National Fudge Day.
Whether you like your fudge smooth, creamy and chewy, or you prefer it grainy, crumbly, and brittle, we can all agree that fudge is one of the most delicious, decadent desserts ever. How do you like your fudge? Tell us in the comments.
Lead image source: Rich Raw Chocolate Fudge