Soft & Creamy Vanilla Fudge

Proper, traditional, soft & creamy real vanilla fudge.

That’s what we’re talking about today. It’s taken a lot of time and a lot of flaky, grainy, unpalatable batches of supposed fudge to find the winning recipe. One thing to be clear about from the start is this is fudge, not tablet.  I’m sure I’m not the only one to have made that mistake when searching for the magic method to deliver creamy fudginess so let me explain. Tablet is a Scottish confection which uses double the quantity of sugar that fudge does  but otherwise, the method is often very similar. Problem is, if flaky, crumbly textures make your teeth itch like mine, then you are going to be disappointed in the extreme! There are plenty of recipes out there for tablet and many, many lovers of the stuff but for me, the perfect fudge is soft and luscious, without a grain in sight. I want it to melt in the mouth like butter, but have more substance – it should be creamy, rich and make you groan with pleasure as you eat just one more chunk. Fatal mistake, there is no such thing as only one more chunk of fudge

If you have ever Googled or rooted around Pinterest looking at glorious images of fudge of every possible flavour, with additions such as chocolate, crumbled cookies, marshmallows, fruit, nuts you name it, the combinations have been well documented. Problem is, the word “fudge” has been sullied and now is awarded to confections which include microwaving chocolate and condensed milk together then leaving it to set, or doing the same in the slow cooker or adding a few extra bits like butter and more sugar on the hob. Now it isn’t to say that these aren’t delicious sweet treats, it’s just that after you’ve made as many batches as I have that you’ve had to give away after your first chunk as the texture is all wrong for you, then you’ll see why the pedant in me emerges and I become rather fussy!

 

Soft & Creamy Vanilla Fudge-2

 

Traditional fudge is a mix of demerara sugar, double cream, a little liquid glucose and butter.  You heat it to the soft ball stage, which is between 113-118˚C (I take it off at 116˚C to prevent it over heating) then allow to cool down a touch before you beat the beejeezus out of it. This helps align the sugar crystals and lays the ground work for a perfectly set fudge. If you have a stand mixer, the manual labour intensity is minimal – use the flat beater/K-beater attachment and if you have a metal bowl, use that rather than a plastic one as fudge is hot, hot, hot!  You can simply beat it with a wooden spoon if not, scraping up the bottom and sides to make sure every last little bit gets a sound thrashing or you will have grainy bits in your fudge (grains make Hulk angry!).

I go off piste only to add a little milk to my double cream, mostly because cream is sold in 300ml pots in England and it makes me happy to not have to open a second pot. It makes the fudge only ever so slightly less rich but let’s be honest, it otherwise plenty rich enough with all that sugar and butter! If you want to be extra decadent then you could use a small pot of clotted cream (usually 227g each) and make up the volume with double cream or milk. It will possibly be the creamiest confection you’ve ever had. This recipe is pretty plain bar the addition of a little vanilla extract (have you ever made your own?) but it is an excellent base to add in whatever additions you like.  Just do so as soon as it’s reached the correct texture to scrape into the tin and bare in mind, chocolate may melt a little as it is still going to be around 60˚C at this point.

My top tips for fudge making are:

  • Have your butter, cream and milk at room temp before starting
  • Use a trustworthy thermometer – I’ve never found a more reliable and instant read than my Thermapen they are around £36 in most places and can be used for confectionery as well as meat so you’ll get your money’s worth quickly
  • If you can use a stand mixer to beat it, then do so!
  • The liquid glucose really does help with the texture, don’t be tempted to skip it
  • Never, ever, ever leave the fudge unattended as it cooks as molten sugar is dangerous and will scald you
  • Don’t be tempted to leave the fudge to beat in your mixer as you may go beyond the point of no return, whip in too much air and have grainy fudge (been there, done that!)
  • Don’t refrigerate your fudge – cover with a clean tea towel and leave to cool on the counter top over night – it’s too moist in the fridge and it won’t set.
  • Fudge will keep in an airtight tin for upto 2 weeks (if you don’t eat it all before then!)

Enjoy! xxx

5 from 3 votes
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Soft & Creamy Vanilla Fudge
Truly soft and creamy, real vanilla fudge - not a grain in sight! This is the best base recipe to start from to create new flavours too.
Author: Just Jo
Ingredients
  • 450 g demerara sugar
  • 100 ml milk
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 tbsp liquid glucose
  • Seeds of a vanilla bean or 1 tsp extract
Instructions
  1. Line an 8x8 inch square tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a deep saucepan - you need room to let the boiling fudge bubble up during cooking.
  3. On a medium-high heat, bring the fudge to a temperature of 116˚C. Keep the thermometer submerged in fudge throughout. Stir all the time scraping up the bottom regularly to prevent it catching and be careful - it will scald you it's so hot.
  4. Take off the heat and leave to stand until temperature reaches 110˚C.
  5. Add in the vanilla.
  6. At this point, transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and using your flat beater, start beating slowly building up the speed to medium and watch the fudge - you are waiting for it to turn matte and thicken quite considerably.
  7. As the mixture cools and you beat it to prevent crystallisation, you'll hear the stand mixer motor start to struggle. Stop beating to check the temperature - once it is at 60˚C it is read to scrape into your prepared tin.
  8. Leave to cool and set over night at room temperature. Cut into squares as big as you like.
Recipe Notes

When beating your fudge, you want to stop before you incorporate so much air it starts to become grainy and crumbly. I don't recommend leaving the fudge unattended at any point in this recipe (both in the cooking and the beating) as it could bubble over and burn you or you could miss the perfect stopping point for creamy, smooth, soft fudge!
I recommend doing this in a stand mixer but you can do it by hand - it will take a lot longer though and give your arms one heck of a workout!

Perfect Soft & Creamy Vanilla Fudge

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16 Comments

  1. frances Auty 19/09/2015 at 10:34 - Reply

    I’m totally going to make this. I’ve only ever made tablet (being the good Scot that I am) but I’m half Cornish and I’m thinking clotted cream is the way to go for me. ?

    • Just Jo 19/09/2015 at 10:35 - Reply

      It’s your destiny Frances! Go forth and fudge 😉

  2. Sophie 22/09/2015 at 17:04 - Reply

    You’ve convinced me to get a thermapen! I hadn’t realised that they weren’t too expensive. That fudge looks great, a good way to test out the thermapen too – must give it a try 🙂

    Sophie Loves Food | Recipes & Reviews

    • Just Jo 23/09/2015 at 07:38 - Reply

      They used to be outrageously expensive Sarah but Amazon have had them at £36 for over a year now 🙂

  3. Paul Sanderson 07/12/2016 at 02:53 - Reply

    Hi Jo, my wife, and love fudge + we are big slow cooker fans, we have 2 young children we find it makes our lives so much easier.

    We have just posted up our own slow cooker fudge recipe but we would love you to try it out and see what you think.

    • Just Jo 07/12/2016 at 07:48 - Reply

      Hi Paul. I have made fudge in that manner before actually – I hope you find time to try my method too!

  4. Lori-Anne 22/04/2017 at 05:50 - Reply

    I decided to try this recipe after browsing many online and I am extremely satisfied! I didn’t have cream on hand so I used evaporated milk instead, and I didn’t have a thermostat so I had to do the soft ball test in ice water.
    At one point I thought it was ruined because it was taking so long to thicken, I even contemplated adding more sugar.
    I’m going to get all that I need and try this again. This is some awesome melt-in-your-mouth fudge!

    • Just Jo 22/04/2017 at 20:41 - Reply

      That’s so wonderful Lori-Anne! I’m so delighted it worked for you even without the cream and thermometer. It will be much easier for you with a thermometer. So happy you enjoy it as much as I do! x

  5. Linda 13/05/2017 at 16:21 - Reply

    I don’t have glucose, would like to make your fudge today, and won’t be able to get out to buy some. Can you suggest a substitution?

    • Just Jo 13/05/2017 at 19:02 - Reply

      Hi Linda! I hope I’m replying in time for you to make the fudge. The glucose is important with regard to the structure of the fudge but it’s not an absolute deal breaker. Just use the same amount of sugar as you would have used the glucose and carry on. It may be slightly less creamy but fingers crossed, very good still! Hope that helps x

  6. Buzybee 27/06/2017 at 09:06 - Reply

    I’ve made fudge using this recipe a few times now and wouldn’t bother looking for another recipe as this makes perfect soft creamy fudge every time.

    • Just Jo 27/06/2017 at 09:35 - Reply

      Oh! That is so wonderful to hear Carol! Thank you so much for your lovely comment. And I am so pleased (as a fellow previously frustrated fudge maker) that you have finally mastered it! Happy fudge making 😀 x

  7. Jenny 12/07/2017 at 13:15 - Reply

    Ive tried chocolate fudge with this recipe both cocoa powder and chocolate now both times its greasy …. Is it because I’ve added the chocolate too soon after it’s ready to be beaten and not when it’s a lot more cooler ? Frustrating

    • Just Jo 12/07/2017 at 15:37 - Reply

      Hi Jenny – adding chocolate to traditional fudge is really, really tricky! Believe me, I’ve tried many a method and in the end, I go back to the cheat’s versions using condensed milk that simply involve melting all the ingredients then letting them set (which is never as firm a set as you get in this traditional fudge recipe). That being said, have you seen my Butterbeer Fudge recipe? https://www.everynookandcranny.net/butterbeer-fudge/ I use white chocolate in that and it works a treat. I know lots of people say they use the cheapest chocolate in baking or confectionary making but I must say, I always stick with my Callebaut white choc for fudge as it’s excellent quality and therefore more stable. You wouldn’t believe how many Terry’s chocolate oranges I went through before I gave up trying to melt them down and make a proper traditional fudge with them lol! I hope some of this waffling on was helpful x

  8. Kayleigh 03/09/2017 at 21:59 - Reply

    I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but I cannot seem to get rid of those grains! It’s not awful, but I can feel those tiny sugar crystals at the roof of my mouth when I eat a piece. It looks great and is super soft, but what could I be missing? All the ingredients are identical (no substitutes), I have a sugar thermometer and all the right tools. I’m completely bashing it by hand at the end for a good 10 minutes and the mixture becomes matte. Could it be how I heat it? It says medium-high, but is that straight away or do I need to cook it on low while everything melts? Hoping you can help! 🙁

    • Just Jo 11/09/2017 at 20:31 - Reply

      Hi Kayleigh, I’m so sorry I haven’t been able to get back to you sooner. It sounds like you are doing the right things. I think there will always be a teeny, weeny, little bit of graininess to fudge no matter how you make it but it you’re talking like crystals of sugar then that can be improved on.
      When you heat the fudge ingredients, one thing to watch out for is little crystals of sugar on the sides of the pan. If you have a pastry brush, dampen it lightly and brush them down as they form into the fudge (stop the brush short of immersing it in the actual mixture) and that should help.
      Also, do keep on beating it until it’s very stiff. It needs a good pummelling to make it smooth! I hope that helps x

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