Dreamy Creamy Gingerbread Fudge: Two Ways

pinit fg en rect gray 28 Dreamy Creamy Gingerbread Fudge: Two Ways

Fudge with snowmen Dreamy Creamy Gingerbread Fudge: Two Ways

There are few things in the candy domain that cause more consternation or downright fear than FUDGE. Just utter the word in some circles and everyone starts reeling off their horror stories. “Oh I can’t make it. It never works for me.” “I tried it once and it was a big grainy mess.” “I had to dump the whole thing in the garbage.” “It never set up, no matter how many times I tried to make it.” “I followed the directions EXACTLY, and it just didn’t work.”

Soft ball fudge Dreamy Creamy Gingerbread Fudge: Two Ways

Well, if any of these remarks sound like something you might say, you have come to the right place. For I, dear reader, am determined not to let a gooey, sticky, hotter than Hades, mass of caramel, with or without chocolate, get the better of ME. No way, no how, ain’t happening.

Stage 11 Dreamy Creamy Gingerbread Fudge: Two Ways

But lest you think I have gone off the deep end and will shortly be eating my words while crying over a batch of gritty, too hard or too soft fudge, I must confess something. I have a secret weapon.

And here it is.

My copy of this most excellent volume has a copyright of 1990. And that’s how long I’ve had it—without ever making one batch of fudge.

Stage 2 Dreamy Creamy Gingerbread Fudge: Two Ways

However, I made up for lost time this past week and first read every work of this book at least twice, then went straight to the kitchen and made several batches of Gingerbread Fudge. For the first batch, I used the traditional process, which Ms. Benning calls Bread & Butter Fudge. That turned out so wonderfully well that I was encouraged to adapt it to the Marshmallow Crème process, which gave it an amazing, almost Divinity-like texture, with a lovely chewiness and magical creaminess. (From there I ventured into Chocolate Fudge, but that’s a later post.)

Stage 3 Dreamy Creamy Gingerbread Fudge: Two Ways

Now I am in the difficult position of not being able to tell you which version I prefer. They are each perfect and memorable in their own way.  The first strikes me as creamy, classic, albeit non-chocolate, fudge. The second is so creamy that it borders on Divinity. I hope you’ll try them both.

But first, read through these important guidelines.

Stage 4 Dreamy Creamy Gingerbread Fudge: Two Ways

Making Perfect Fudge: Tips & Tricks

  • Temperature is only an approximate measurement for fudge. Only use a candy or instant-read thermometer to tell you about how much longer you need to boil the syrup. Do not use a thermometer as your only gauge of the soft-ball stage. It is not an accurate gauge.
  • When you measure the temperature of the syrup, measure at the center of the pan and do not let the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan.
  • The syrup is the correct density when it reaches what is called the soft-ball stage. However, this stage is described differently in numerous otherwise reliable texts. Generally, the soft-ball stage is cited as between 234° and 240°. Ms. Benning says that the average temperature at which her numerous fudge tests reached the soft-ball stage was 238°.
  • Ignore fudge recipes that tell you to boil the syrup for a specified number of minutes and then proceed to cooling. The length of time it takes to drive the  necessary amount of water  rom the syrup varies depnding on the degreo of heat you apply. For example, I prefer a controlled boil, and thus, it may take 15 minutes or longer for my syrup to reach the soft-ball stage. Testing is the only way to accurately determine if your syrup is at that stage.
  • Continue boiling the fudge while you quickly conduct a soft-ball test.
  • To accurately determine if your syrup is at the soft-ball stage, drizzle 1 teaspoon or so of the hot syrup into 1 cup of ice water. (Use fresh ice water for every test.) If it dissipates immediately or forms a flat mass at the bottom of the cup, it isn’t ready.  However, if the end of the pour remains elevated or protrudes above the water, you need to move fast. Quickly roll the syrup into a ball between your fingers. The syrup ball should not flatten after you remove it from the ice water, unless you squeeze it between your fingers or wait for it to soften from the heat of your hand. It should be chewy, not dissolve immediately, in your mouth.
  • It is better to slightly overcook than undercook fudge.
  • To control the graining of the fudge, shock the hot syrup by placing it in ½-inch cold water for 10 minutes or so as soon as it reaches the soft-ball stage.
  • To further control the graining, seed the fudge by adding an alcohol-based extract, frozen butter, nuts, or chocolate to the still hot fudge.
  • Do not stir the fudge between the time it reaches the soft-ball stage and then subsequently cools to 110°.
  • Lazily stir, don’t beat, the fudge only after it cools to 110°. (The exception here is with fudge made with Marshmallow Crème. That must be stirred in before the fudge cools.)
  • The lower the temperature at which you begin to stir the fudge, the finer the sugar crystals in the finished fudge.
  • The fudge is nearing the finish line when you begin to hear a “snap” as you are stirring it.
  • The fudge has candied when it become thick, loses its high gloss, becomes streaked with lighter shades, and/or suddenly stiffens.
  • Stir in optional ingredients just as the fudge is about to candy.
  • Once fudge has candied, pour it quickly into your prepared pan and level the top.
  • Let cool completely before cutting.
  • Wrap cooled fudge well in plastic wrap to store for a day or two at room temperature or with additional foil to store longer in the frig.
  • Traditional fudge (without Marshmallow Cream) freezes beautifully.

Fudge Dreamy Creamy Gingerbread Fudge: Two Ways

Dreamy Creamy Gingerbread Fudge

I adapted this recipe using the directions in the excellent little tome, Oh Fudge, by Lee Edwards Benning. What I appreciate most about Ms. Benning’s treatise is her thorough explanation of the science behind fudge making. Although I am an intrepid caramel maker, fudge has always seemed to me beyond the limits of the home kitchen. I say this having eaten way too much gritty homemade fudge at holiday gatherings.

This fudge is what holiday dreams are made of: sweet, creamy, delicious, unusual, and memorable. Your friends and family will clamor for it every year.

2 cups sugar (super-fine if you can find it)
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup unsulfured molasses
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 tablespoon vanilla (alcohol type)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Optional (mandatory for me)
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

  1. Get ready: Line the bottom and two opposite sides of an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan with a sheet of heavy foil. Butter the foil. Fill the sink with ½ inch of cold water. Set the following items next to the stove: cup of hot water, pastry brush, 3 cups of ice water, cup of ice, candy thermometer, and instant-read thermometer.
  2. Clear syrup: In a 3-quart or slightly larger heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, brown sugar, cream, molasses, and butter and set over very low heat to melt. Stir occasionally and do not let the syrup come anywhere close to a boil. Your objective here is to clear (dissolve) the sugar before bringing the syrup to a boil. This should take from 10-15 minutes. But some syrups may take much longer. (Ms. Benning says that the longer you take on this step, the silkier and smoother your fudge. In one of her recipes, she specifies an hour for this process.) Do not proceed to the next step until the syrup is completely smooth and free of sugar crystals.
  3. Wash sides of pan: After the sugar clears, wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped into hot water. If you neglect this step, you may end up with crystallized syrup.
  4. Boil syrup: Bring the syrup to a brisk, but not out of control, boil. Make sure that the syrup stays well beneath the upper edge of the pan. Stop stirring. Continue washing the sides of the pan with hot water periodically. Any crystals than form on the sides of the pan jeopardize the creaminess of the syrup. Now begin testing the temperature of the syrup by inserting a candy or instant-read thermometer into the center of the boiling syrup, without letting the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan. You should begin testing for the soft ball stage at about 234°. In my tests, it took 12-15 minutes of controlled boiling to reach this temperature.
  5. Test for soft-ball: To accurately determine if your syrup is at the soft-ball stage, spoon 1 teaspoon or so of the hot syrup into 1 cup of ice water. (Use fresh ice water for each test.) If syrup dissipates immediately or forms a flat mass at the bottom of the cup, it isn’t ready.  However, if the end of the pour remains elevated or protrudes above the water, you need to move fast. Quickly roll the syrup into a ball between your fingers. The syrup ball should not flatten after you remove it from the ice water, unless you squeeze it between your fingers. It should be chewy, not dissolve immediately, in your mouth.
  6. Shock fudge: When the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, remove it immediately from the heat and set the pan in the sink surrounded by ½-inch cold water.
  7. Seed fudge: Add your “seed” to the fudge, without stirring it in. In this recipe, add the vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves.
  8. Cool fudge: Let the fudge cool in the sink to 110°.
  9. Stir fudge: Remove the pan from the sink when the fudge tests 110°. Begin stirring slowly in a figure eight motion, stopping periodically to allow the fudge to react. The fudge is nearing the finish line when you begin to hear a “snap” as you stir it. The fudge has candied when it become thick, loses its high gloss, becomes streaked with lighter shades, and/or suddenly stiffens.
  10. Add optional ingredients: Quickly stir in the nuts if you are using them.
  11. Cut fudge: After the fudge is completely cool, remove it from the pan, pull off the wax paper, and score the top to create 32, 1-inch by 2-inch pieces. Cut the pieces.
  12. Store fudge: To store, either line a clean pan with plastic wrap, arrange the pieces in the pan, and wrap the entire pan with a couple layers of plastic wrap to store for a couple of days at room temperature, add an additional wrapping of foil to store longer in the frig, or wrap each piece of fudge in wax paper sheets and then put in a metal cookie tin (my preference).

Fills one, 8- by 8-inch pan; 32, 1- by 2-inch, pieces.
Wrapped Dreamy Creamy Gingerbread Fudge: Two Ways

Heavenly Gingerbread Marshmallow Crème Fudge

You are not going to find a creamier, chewier fudge than one made with Marshmallow Crème. Adding Marshmallow Crème to the sugar syrup incorporates shocking, seeding, and cooling in one easy step. The fudge must, however, be stirred by hand.

Note Fudge made with Marshmallow Crème does not freeze well.

1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup cream
¼ cup unsulfured molasses
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (½ stick)

1 tablespoon vanilla (alcohol type)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

One 13-ounce jar Marshmallow Crème

Optional
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (mandatory for me)

  1. Proceed with the basic recipe, using the proportion of ingredients specified here.
  2. Skip Steps 5, 6, and 7 and instead, stir the Marshmallow Crème into the hot syrup.
  3. Continue with Steps 8 through 11, noting, however, that this fudge does not lose its gloss.

Fills one, 8- by 8-inch pan; 32, 1- by 2-inch, pieces.

Resources

Copyright 2010 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.

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About Susan S. Bradley

Intrepid cook, food writer, culinary instructor, author of Pacific Northwest Palate: Four Seasons of Great Cooking, and founder of the Northwest Culinary Academy.

Comments

  1. Janice in Alaska says:

    I have a question regarding the cream you have listed in the Heavenly Gingerbread Marshmallow Crème Fudge. What kind of cream ?

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  3. Michelle McDonald says:

    Hi Susan, I used your shock/seed/cool/beat method to make Penuche today. D.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s! I have struggled with every Russian Fudge recipe to get it to set up, so when I can be bothered going ‘there’ again, I’m going to use your method. IF I ever make it again….Penuche wins hands down!

  4. I tried this recipe for Christmas but I dont know what happened I ended up with a thick sticky caramel instead of fudge and I fallowed the recipe I also made a chocolate fudge and that turned out perfect so I dont understand…

  5. Ok, I am one of those people. Two batches/trashed. I want to try this recipe. It looks AMAZING. I am in fear of a pastry brush. It that necessary or would a wet dish cloth work?

    • Julie, this is YOUR year to make fantastic fudge. :-) Yes, anything clean and wet will do the trick in lieu of a pastry brush. You can also simply put a lid on the pan for a few seconds, which will condense the steam and wash the sides of the pan. Happy Holidays!

  6. Why does the GINGERBREAD FUDGE Not have Ginger in it?

  7. How long do you think it can “keep”? I have never frozen fudge before and I am trying to gage how many days before christmas I should make this where it still tastes fresh.

  8. Thank you for posting this amazing recipe. I was so impressed that it turned out beautifully on the first try. The stirring process took a lot longer than other fudge recipes I have tried, but it is well worth the effort. There is only one problem with this fudge – I can’t stop eating it! I will definitely be making it again and again. I was also inspired to order the “Oh Fudge” book. Thanks again for such a delicious treat.

  9. por que no puedo copiar y solo se puede imprimir – teneis muchos este costumbre y no veo logica en esto – asi que lastima puesto que no puedo copiar – tu cres que yo tengo impresora? asi que por tus recetas y los consejos todo para ti cariño – yo no les puedo tener

    • Lo sentimos, usted está teniendo problemas. Para imprimir un mensaje, vaya a la final de la entrada y haga clic en el botón denominado “Imprimir”. A continuación, puede imprimir el mensaje. Por favor, disculpe mi pobre español.

  10. That looks REALLY good. I just have one question, there’s no ginger in the recipe??? I would have thought with it being gingerbread there would be some.

    • Katrina, I just went over my testing notes and by golly I did forget the ginger. Now I have a dilemma, because the fudge tastes fabulous without it. However, the next time I make this, I will add 1/2 teaspoon ginger and see if I like that even better. Good catch, thank you! …Susan

  11. All of a sudden I feel like I absolutely need fudge in my life of I’m going to go crazy!! I think it’s the tasty pictures. Maybe I’ll just lick my screen instead.

    Laura

    • Laura, take a deep breath. Another one. OK now, walk slowly to the frig and get some butter and cream. Then open the cupboard and get the rest of the ingredients. You are going to have FUDGE in less than 1/2 hour. And don’t worry about the directions that say let is cure for a few hours before cutting. Just scoop out a couple of large spoonfuls for yourself before pouring the rest into the pan. I’ve never done that of course (Ha!) but you are in a desperate situation. :-)

  12. I did it! After batch and batch of grainy mess, I officially made my first REAL GOOD batch of fudge! whoohoo! :D

    thanks so much for the extra tips…. they were the ones that made the difference!
    Jurino´s last blog post ..Collections and keepsakesMy Profile

    • Jurio, you can’t imagine how delighted I am to hear this!!! The world is now yours. Seriously, I have bribed people into doing hours of work for me on a promise of homemade fudge. Now you have the power as well. :-)

  13. oh my…gingerbread fudge sounds absolutely incredible. Great tips too! I have definitely ruined a few batches of fudge :) I never knew all those tips so now it’s easy to see where I went wrong! Thanks!

  14. I am on a fudge mission myself, I am looking for that perfect old-fashioned fudge taste and texture that it seems can only be achieved by using a thermometer and beating by hand. I think I’ll have to have another go at it with your first recipe, gingerbread fudge sounds wonderful.
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen´s last blog post ..spicy rosemary roasted nuts &124 cocktail nibblesMy Profile

    • Sylvie, I think you will be well rewarded with this formula. Let me know how it turns out. I am still working on the perfect chocolate fudge and will post that at another time. The same rules should apply, but I wasn’t satisfied with my first attempt. So on with the journey. How sweet it is!

  15. Oh my! That looks incredible wonderful! Great blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls
    Mary @ Delightful Bitefuls´s last blog post ..Soft Gingersnap Cookies with White Chocolate ChunksMy Profile

  16. this looks too sinful to eat on Christmas, but I don’t think im gonna care abt that. :D

  17. You are so my soul sister with your determination to not let fudge get the best of you! I told my daughter and anyone else around who was still awake after my treatise about making fudge, that you only have to be smarter than sugar. (Well, there are some…) One thing to mention above, never (NEVER) put anything into the fudge while it’s cooking that isn’t perfectly clean and dry, that means your instant read thermometer, a spoon…anything! A couple stray sugar crystals from a previous dipping can undo it all. Don’t go there. Marshmallow creme? Silky maybe, but too sweet for me. But that’s just me, most others love it.

    • Susan, LOL, and very good point about not putting anything (unless clean and dry) into the syrup while it is boiling.

      On principle alone, I was prepare to dislike the Marshmallow Creme version of this fudge. But it’s phenomenal, and I can’t stop eating it. Note that I cut the sugar back in the recipe to account for the addition of the Marshmallow Creme. To my palate, it’s not noticably sweeter than the traditional version, although both of course are candy-sweet. If you love chewy (and I do), the Marshmallow Creme version will rock your world. :-)

  18. Goodness you have been busy! Your photographs are wonderful…I think I would lean toward the marshmallow creme fudge. I am one of those people who messes up fudge…thank you for the tips.
    Kate´s last blog post ..Spiced Nuts and Pretzel MixMy Profile

  19. The mission continues.

    I just have to wait for the delivery of brown sugar to arrive and I will knock up a batch or two.

    Happy baking,

    Matthew

    • Matthew, I love your phrase “wait for the delivery of brown sugar. :-) Now if only I could get someone to deliver everything I need right to my kitchen door. I sometimes have to go to 3-4 different stores to get the products I need. Let me know how these directions work for you. I’d like to create a failproof master recipe. Thanks! …Susan

  20. 1) love making fudge 2) everyone in my family talks about how hard it is 3) OMG! I have to make this both ways!!!
    Luna´s last blog post ..Chef PR Tips- An interview with Traca SavadogoMy Profile

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