The BEST Vanilla Fudge. Made the traditional way… It’s rich, smooth and decadently creamy. Easy to make and perfect to give as a gift.
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Originally posted 18th September 2013… Updated 27th November 2022
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Super-Creamy Vanilla Fudge made the ‘old fashioned’ way
Who doesn’t love a deliciously crafted cube of Vanilla Fudge? Notice the words ‘deliciously crafted’? They are important! Because not all fudge is created equal. Too many of them are over-sweet, exceptionally grainy and boiled until they are crystalline and crumbly or a little too ‘toffee’. But not THIS one!
Because a good fudge should be rich and creamy with a depth of flavour that off-sets the sugary sweetness… It should be melt-in-the-mouth smooth and silky… And it should be rich and luxurious without being sickly. I won’t accept anything less! Because if I’m going to take the time to make REAL Vanilla Fudge, then it HAS to be perfect.
So read on lovely people… Because this is the BEST Vanilla Fudge Recipe I have found in my 50+ years on this planet!
The search for the Perfect Vanilla Fudge recipe…
When I was a child, I loved making sweets! From marzipan to marshmallows… toffee to truffles… I had a special cookbook and all the required paraphernalia. And of course, fudge-making was often on the agenda, not least because it made perfect presents for those I loved.
While I still have that cookbook, it is now very dated. Its yellowing pages with endlessly 70’s pink and green sugar-filled images seem quite disappointing. But back then, the sugar seemed more important to our tastebuds than the texture or flavour…
Wind on 30+ years and a hankering to make fudge again led me to hunt for the perfect recipe… Decadent, flavoursome, up-to-date, simple to make and (of course) rich and creamy. And (as always) I turned to the internet…
What I found was a recipe by Nick Dudley-Jones… a professional pastry chef with a passion for fudge. The recipe he shared (and which I share again here, with very minor changes) was in fact passed down by a pastry tutor before him. But it seemed good (and full of professional wisdom) and people were raving about it. It also looked simple enough to make. So I tried it…
What makes this fudge the BEST?
If you think fudge is fudge then think again. Because what I learned from Nick Dudley-Jones changed the way I make ‘traditional’ fudgefor good…
The key differences in process are the following:
- The very clear emphasis and direction to dissolve the sugar and blend with the other ingredients (stirring CONSTANTLY) at stage one, very VERY slowly. No rushing… No cutting corners because you didn’t give yourself enough time to make it… Only by dissolving the sugar crystals slowly (BEFORE it reaches boiling point) will you achieve the smoothest and fudgiest of textures.
- Once the fudge mixture has been boiled and is ready to cool, it MUST be beaten for at least 10 to 15 minutes (as it cools). This is also essential to ensuring the smoothness and decadence that a good fudge deserves.
- The recipe includes a handful of perfectly vanilla white chocolate to add richness and flavour.
Trust me… It makes ALL the difference. The results speak for themselves… A ‘grown up’ fudge that is (despite the sugar content) not over-sweet, rich with vanilla and quite addictively divine.
What Ingredients are needed to make this Vanilla Fudge at home?
The list of ingredients needed to make this traditional Vanilla Fudge is comfortingly short (and the method is reassuringly simple). You’ll need:
- Caster Sugar (super-fine sugar) – Its crystals are smaller and dissolve more quickly. I use standard white caster sugar to get vanilla fudge that is pale cream in colour… I’ll be honest, visually I prefer it to the brown stuff.
- Double Cream (heavy cream) – This is very much an ‘all cream’ richly-sumptuous recipe. No milk allowed!
- Unsalted Butter
- Glucose – This supports the texture by helping to prevent the sugars from re-crystalising. Don’t skip this ingredient if you want perfect fudge! Glucose can sometimes be derived from wheat or barley, but is (according to Coeliac UK and other Coeliac organisations around the world) gluten free. I use liquid glucose from Dr Oetker.
- Vanilla Bean Paste (or Vanilla Bean Powder or the seeds from a Vanilla Pod)… But not vanilla extract… Extract is honestly not powerful enough and will just add unhelpful liquid to the mix.
- White Chocolate – Just a handful, but enough to enhance the flavour above and beyond! Choose chocolate which is good quality and which melts well… I use Callebaut White Chocolate Callets, because they are gluten free and superb for baking.
What equipment is needed for this recipe?
Traditional Vanilla Fudge may not be a ‘throw in a bowl and melt in the microwave’ job (although equally, it’s possibly more sophisticated and definitely not as sickly), but the way it’s made is still pretty simple. You will, however, need more than a bowl and a microwave to make it…
The key equipment list (not including the setting tin)…
- Large heavy-based saucepan, wooden or firm silicone spoon and a hob. If using a wooden spoon, make sure it hasn’t been used to stir savoury stuff (unless of course, you like onion-infused vanilla fudge).
- A good set of digital kitchen scales and some measuring spoons.
- Candy thermometer – When making recipes that specify boiling to ‘soft ball’, etc, I tend to use my trusty old jam thermometer (so I can aim for the line!). But a reliable digital food thermometer is also perfect for accuracy.
- Heat-proof bowl and a mixer (with a beater attachment) – I use my KitchenAid stand mixer (which comes into its own when a lengthy beating is required). However, a high-powered robust hand mixer will suffice if that’s what you have. Be aware that the just-boiled fudge will heat the bowl, so (if hand mixing and needing to hold it in place), avoid metal or plastic… I would suggest a large Pyrex bowl is perfect, but watch out for splashes!
To decorate or not to decorate?
Vanilla Fudge doesn’t need dressing up to enhance the experience of eating it… But if giving it as a gift, I always like to make it look extra special. Over the years I’ve ‘decorated’ it with anything from colourful sprinkles and nuts to edible glitter and simple chocolate flakes and curls. It all depends on who’s receiving it.
How to decorate…
If you want chocolate flakes and sprinkles to stick to the fudge and stay put, make sure to sprinkle them on as soon as the fudge has been transferred to the tin to set and while it is still warm. This will allow the chocolate pieces to melt at the base and stick to the surface of the fudge. Don’t worry though… The fudge shouldn’t be so hot that they melt into a puddle by this stage.
For other larger-chunk decorations (nuts, etc)… These should also be sprinkled on (and gently pressed so they ‘hold’ on the surface without being ‘buried’) while the fudge is still soft and warm.
Smaller, more granular sprinkles (such as colourful sugar) can be added before or after chilling. It can help to place a piece of baking paper over the sprinkled surface and gently rub it to set them in… Or after cutting, dip the top of the fudge pieces into the sprinkles (allowing for variation with each piece).
Ready to make the BEST real Vanilla Fudge?
The recipe for this delicious REAL Vanilla Fudge is just below… I hope you love it. Don’t forget to let me know if you make it. Leave a comment at the bottom or alternatively, tag me on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter).
For lots more gluten free Food Gift ideas, scroll down to the bottom section of our Gluten Free Christmas Index. There’s so much inspiration all in one place.
And for everything else, the main Gluten Free Recipe Index is the place to start… Just shout if you need anything that isn’t there… I may just be able to work it out for you.
With my love
More confectionary gifts to make at home…
BEST Vanilla Fudge
- 8 inch/20 cm square baking tin
- large heavy-based saucepan
- stand mixer or hand mixer + heat proof Pyrex bowl
- 655 g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 500 ml double cream (heavy cream)
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 1 tsp glucose (liquid glucose)
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or powder
- handful of chopped white chocolate
To decorate (optional)
- sprinkles/nuts/chocolate flakes
- Base-line an 8 to 9 inch loose-bottomed square baking tin with baking paper.
- Put all the ingredients (except the white chocolate) in a large heavy-based saucepan and stir thoroughly.
- Heat the ingredients on a VERY low heat and stir until the ingredients are fully combined, the butter melts and the sugar COMPLETELY dissolves into a smooth liquid (with no granules). Do NOT allow the liquid to come to the boil at this stage. The liquid should be creamy, buttery and golden.
- Once the liquid stage has been reached, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a boil, stirring constantly. Do not stop stirring, or the mixture will burn.
- Continue to boil rapidly, stirring until the liquid reaches 112-115⁰ C / 234-240⁰ F (Soft Ball). Use a sugar thermometer to judge this accurately. Be patient this will take about 15 minutes.
- Once the critical temperature is reached, continue to gently boil for just a couple of minutes more, but ensure the temperature does not rise above the softball limit. The mixture should be the consistency of runny honey – smooth but thick.
- At this stage, remove from the heat and continue to stir until the boil has subsided.
- Pour the hot liquid fudge into a stand-mixer bowl or a large pyrex (heat-proof) bowl.
- Starting off slowly and then gradually increasing the speed to a mid point, beat the fudge using an electric beater. It should be allowed to cool gradually while continuing to beat (in total – 10 to 15 minutes).
- After about 5 minutes of beating, add the white chocolate to the bowl and continue to beat (for a further 5 to 10 minutes).
- Before the fudge becomes too firm, stop mixing and spoon into the prepared tin. Smooth the surface with a palate knife or spatula until even.
- Decorate with sprinkles (optional)
- Leave to cool completely. Then refrigerate for at least 6 hours to set, before removing from the tin and cutting into squares.
© 2019-2022 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist
Best Vanilla Fudge shared with
- Fiesta Friday with Angie
- What’s for Dinner with The Lazy Gastronome
- Full Plate Thursday with Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
- Cook Blog Share