A Little Bit Of Sweetness: All About Fudge
Is there anything more delicious on the tongue than the melting sweetness of a little bit of fudge? Fudge has been an American candy-making tradition for over 100 years and it is a guaranteed hit in homes as well as gift and candy shops all across the nation. Here is a little bit of info about this little bit of sweetness: fudge.
Fudge's humble beginnings are a bit hazy, and no one can definitively pin down when the basic recipe actually came to be. Divinity candy is in the same basic family as fudge: both need to be cooked at high temperatures and depend on sugar crystals to maintain shape and texture. Although Divinity is thought to have come first, in the mid 1800's, fudge as we know it today was probably a late 19th century concoction.
Like chocolate chip cookies and other culinary classics, fudge may have been discovered as a mistake. Its name may actually have come from the verb "to fudge" meaning to do something wrong. The recipe for fudge is actually very close to "fondant," a smooth type of cake icing that was popular in the early 20th century and that has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity again lately. The first written record of fudge was in 1886, when a young Vassar college student wrote a letter describing her cousin's making fudge in Baltimore. It has been a hit with girls on college campuses ever since!
Making fudge has always been considered an art form by professional candy makers and amateurs alike: the key is in the technique and to "fudge" fudge is a common fate of beginners. Stirring the candy while it is still hot often results in fudge that is coarse and granular. The trick is to get the tiny sugar micro crystals to set up at just the right time so that the texture will be firm and the candy will retain its shape, but there should be no trace of the crystals when they melt on the tongue. The fudge must be allowed to cool without being stirred: that's the trick to its creamy deliciousness.
There are a ton of recipes out there for fudge in just about every flavor imaginable, from maple to Rocky Road to Chocolate Amaretto. It takes practice, practice, and more practice to make it right, but the results are well worth the effort. Fudge is still a perennial best-seller at candy shops, gift shops, and any other venue where people might enjoy a sweet treat.
It's a little bit of sweetness with a whole lot of all-American history behind it.