maple fudge help

chi83December 14, 2011

I've tried the maple fudge from Ann_t twice now and it's failed both times. I know it's me and not the recipe so I'm wondering if anyone can help.

It's the "soft ball" stage that I have trouble with. When I add it to the cold water, it doesn't seem to form a ball but rather just a squiggle in the water if that makes sense. I wasn't sure if it would actually form a ball or if I'm being too literal! Can anyone tell me what soft ball vs. hard ball looks like in the water?

Both times I made it, it turned into caramel and never set up. From what I can tell, that means I cooked it to the hard ball stage, right? I definitely cooked it for long enough as it went well past the 7 minutes and I couldn't tell what it was supposed to look like. It was still yummy but not what I was looking for. I'm hoping to give this as a gift for Christmas to someone who loves maple.

I have very little experience making fudge or anything that requires timing/water testing like this so any advice is well appreciated. Thanks!

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Chi83, The softball stage does form a ball, but the ball is soft and just holds its shape. If you were to hold it between two fingers and let it hang, it would start to stretch. Hard ball is firmer and holds it shape.

I've tried to find a photo on line for you and this little video is the best example I could find.

I learned to make fudge as a child using the water test, but if that isn't working for you, you can use a candy thermometer.

I've had a lot of feed back from other bloggers and lurkers who have tried my recipe so I know that the recipe works. Fudge really is one of those things where practice makes perfect. Don't give up.


Here is a link that might be useful: Softball Stage

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 11:11AM
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I had the same thing happen to me this year and I have been making fudge for over 50 years. I don't what went wrong. Maybe there was more water in the syrup than years past. Did you use a candy thermometer? I tried to wing it and it didn't work. Another thing I will have to ask Santa for since my old one broke.

Here is some information I found on the web.

Some cooks prefer to use a candy thermometer and some prefer to use the old-fashioned cold water way to test the doneness of candy. Below there are directions for both.

Look at the bottom of this chart for several candy recipes just for you.

Thread Stage - begins at 230 degrees F. - Makes a long thread when dropped in cold water.

Soft Ball - 234 degrees F. - Forms a soft ball that doesn't hold its shape. Cream candies, fudge, fondants are done at the soft ball stage.

Firm Ball - 246 degrees F. - This ball will only flatten with pressure. Divinity and Caramels.

Hard Ball - 250 degrees F. - This ball will hold its shape when pressed. Taffy.

Soft Crack - 270 degrees F. - Separates into bendable threads. Toffee and Butterscotch.

Hard Crack - 300 degrees F. - Becomes brittle. Peanut Brittle.

Caramelize - 310 degrees F. - Sugar turns dark.


Here is a link that might be useful: Candy Making Chart

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 11:11AM
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Thanks! I just bought a Thermapen so maybe that will help me get a better gauge for what I need to be looking for.

Ann, do you have a preference for which version of the fudge you like better? I noticed you have a cream/sugar based one and a condensed milk version with more maple syrup. I'm sure they are both good but do you have a preference for one over the other?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 4:56PM
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I grew up on the old fashion version, both chocolate and maple, made with cream and sugar. My Dad had been making it that way since the 1930's. To me the condensed milk version just doesn't taste right or have the correct texture, but that is just one person's opinion. Go with whatever version you like.

PS - My Vermont maple fudge recipe is quite a bit different from Ann's, but if you do a search you will find lots of different versions.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 5:42PM
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Chi, No, they are both very similar. Very smooth and creamy. Not at all sugary like some homemade fudge.

The condensed milk just replaces the sugar and cream. The texture and flavour are almost identical. I came up with the condensed milk substitute one day when I wanted to make fudge and was out of heavy cream.

BUT, my favourite is my White Chocolate and Toasted Walnut.

White Chocolate and Toasted Walnut Fudge

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup cream
1/2 cup of butter
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup of white Corn Syrup
6 to 8 ounces Callebaut White Chocolate
2 teaspoons vanilla

Add the two sugars, butter, cream, corn syrup and salt into a sauce
Pan. Place over medium heat. Stir while bringing to a boil. Lower the
Heat and continue to stir slowly while the mixture cooks. After about
7 minutes, test by pouring a small amount into some cold water. You
Want it to form a soft ball. (about 235ðF to 238ðF on a candy thermometer) When it reaches soft ball stage, remove from the heat, and let rest for about 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add the vanilla and the white chocolate and stir until the white chocolate melts. You will notice the the fudge starts to thicken almost immediately. Stir another minute or two or until the fudge starts to lose its shine. Quickly add the walnuts and pour into a buttered dish.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 5:52PM
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I made Ann's recipe using the one she references in the bloggers link. It calls for white chocolate and maple syrup in lieu of the corn syrup in Ann's favorite recipe.
I had not made fudge in skazillions of years. It turned out pretty incredible. I used a cast iron enamel Le Creuset pot--not sure if it was the cause of it taking so much longer than 7 minutes to get my candy thermometer to 238 degrees. I'm going to say that I had to turn the heat back higher, and it still took me maybe 12 to 15 minutes. It stayed stuck about 230 degrees for a long time. I would have never made it without the thermometer, because I would have stopped too soon. The rest of the recipe went very smoothly. I liked the idea of the cast iron retaining heat, but maybe a thinner pan would have worked faster. It is fabulous fudge, though it tastes to me more like brown sugar fudge, and doesn't have as strong maple overtones as I might have thought.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ann_T's Maple White Chocolate Fudge as portrayed on The Last Wonton blog

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 8:10PM
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I'd like to try making Ann's maple cream fudge using the condensed milk recipe. Do cans of condensed milk come in only one size? I'm wondering exactly how much to use.

I just finished making the white chocolate walnut fudge and it looks wonderful! Thanks for all the great recipes, Ann!


    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 11:36AM
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Hey Ann, for the White Chocolate and Toasted Walnut fudge, do you have a ballpark on the quantity of walnuts that should be used? I assume you toast them but then do you dice them or leave them in bigger chunks? It's hard to tell from the photo. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 12:02PM
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Annainpa, That is why so many people have trouble making fudge. There is so much variation in the time it takes, depending on size of pot, burners, and the weather, etc...... You have to be able to judge and adapt when making fudge.

Lisa, you are welcome. Condensed Milk comes in one size cans. Or at least I have never seen more than one size. I think it is 14 ounces. Use the whole can.

Chi, I don't measure. But at last a cup of toasted walnut halves. I like to leave the walnut halves whole, but you can break the nuts up if that is your personal preference.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 1:42PM
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Thanks, Ann. One more question: how should I store the fudge? I'm planning to give it as Christmas gifts. Should I wait until Christmas Eve to cut the fudge and put it in tins? Does it need to be refrigerated?

As always, thank you!


    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 2:08PM
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Well, I tried it again and I got the consistency right! Soft but solid and held its shape. However, the texture was grainy. From my research, I think I should have waited till it cooled more before stirring it, and I also scraped the sides of the saucepan when I was cooking and stirring it. I intended just to get it all incorporated but I realize I probably made sugar crystals when I mixed in the crystalized sides into the candy.

But, all in all, I consider it a vast improvement so once I can fix the graininess, I'll be all set!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 12:39PM
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Has anyone tried this with something other than walnuts? I'd like to try it with almonds. Not that I'd succeed at making fudge, but I'd like to try since Annie sent me such lucious maple syrup from Michgan!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 12:44PM
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Rob, Almonds would be wonderful especially if they are toasted. I've used toasted pecans and I received this comment recently on the blog:

Anita said...

I just found your blog today and just completed making the white chocolate fudge (I added toasted macadamia nuts)...then lo and behold I stubble upon your give-a-way! I'm posting in on my fb page too!

I love the idea of the toasted macadamia nuts. And I also like the idea of toasted cashews.


    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 1:01PM
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That's exactly what I was thinking. Roasted almonds. Mmm. My favorite! Cool. Thanks a million.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 8:59AM
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