There are three types of fudge: spoon fudge usually occurs when the candy isn't beaten long enough and never sets up. Sugared, crunchy fudge occurs when the fudge is messed with during the cooling period and sets up too much (the sugar starts to bond, forming crystals). And perfect fudge, which is so good you'll find yourself eating half the pan.
5-6 Tablespoons cocoa
3 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons Karo light corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup (9 ounces) evaporated milk
2/3 stick butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups pecans (optional)
- Butter very well an 8x12 or 9x13 Pyrex casserole dish.
- In a 2 qt saucepan, mix cocoa and sugar.
- Add Karo, salt, and milk.
- Boil to soft ball, and keep it at soft ball for 2-3 minutes (240 degrees by candy thermometer, or when a pinch makes a line - see below).
- Pour into a mixer bowl over butter.
- Allow to cool until you can hold your hands firmly around the base of the bowl without cursing. WHILE COOLING, DO NOT STIR. This leads to sugared fudge.
- Add vanilla.
- Hook bowl up to mixer and beat the hell out of it at high speed. Don't do this during a football game: be prepared to stand over the mixer for 15-30 minutes, watching it. If you hear a slapping sound when the paddle makes a round, you still have a while to go.
- Beat until the fudge loses its gloss and just begins to hold its shape when you stop the mixer.
- Unhook bowl from mixer and quickly stir in the pecans with a spatula - the fudge should be thickening quickly at this point and somewhat hard to stir around.
- Dump the whole mess into the Pyrex dish and lick the bowl.
"When a pinch makes a line," is how my grandmother and mom did it. While the stuff is boiling, take a teaspoon and get some out of the pot. Drop it in an awaiting bowl of cool tap water and watch what happens. Then pick it up out of the water - if you can shape the chocolate in a line along your finger, you're at the right temperature. Hard ball forms a hard ball. Soft crack candy will crack somewhat when it hits the water but still be flexible, and hard crack is so hot, it cracks to rigid pieces. I think. That's the old school way to do it, and I've only ever seen it done. I'm more of a thermometer girl, myself.