Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fantasy Fudge - The Way It's Supposed to Be

Well, party season is upon us. Time to break out that festive garb you wear only one month a year. The red, the green, the sparkly and, dare I say, the ugly sweater.

Our Sunday school class has their annual party Saturday night and I couldn't decide what to bring, so I made up a variety of different sweets and assembled a pretty tray of mouth-watering treats.
We have peanut clusters (you can find that recipe here), turtle pretzels, which are very similar to a recipe Jan shared here, dipped pretzels (recipe here) and the quintessential favorite, fudge.

Growing up, my mom always made the fudge recipe on the back of the marshmallow cream jar. Yeah, you know the stuff.
So now that I'm a grown up--well, some days anyway--I have made this same fudge every single year. However, in recent years, there was something about it that seemed a little off. Oh, everyone still ate it and never heard any complaints, but I knew that it was not the same fudge I'd had growing up. So a couple of years ago, I decided to do a little investigation.

I went online and searched ORIGINAL FANTASY FUDGE RECIPE and came up with several options. I found it interesting that none were exactly the same. And when I tried the one I thought was right, it still wasn't the same.

Then last year, I hit pay-dirt. I was going through my mom's old recipe file and came across a yellowed piece of shiny paper. It was the recipe for Fantasy Fudge she had clipped from the back of the marshmallow cream jar all those years ago. And you know what, the recipe had changed.

You see, evaporated milk has always come in two sizes. The big can and the small can is how we always referred to them. The big can was for pumpkin pie and the little can was for fudge. However, at some point, the manufacturers of evaporated milk changed the size of the small can from 6 ounces to 5 ounces. Amazing what a difference a single ounce of evaporated milk can do for a recipe. So now, I buy the 12 ounce can and measure out my 6 ounces. Best of all, because it's 12 ounces, I can put the other 6 in the fridge to make another batch closer to Christmas.

Here the recipe for REAL Fantasy Fudge:

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine (I use butter)
6 oz. evaporated milk
1 12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 7 oz jar marshmallow cream
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Now let's get this candy made.

First thing you'll want to do is line a 9x13 baking pan with aluminum foil. This is so you can lift the fudge out of the pan after it's cooled, for easier cutting.
Now spray that foil with some non-stick spray and set aside.

Melt your butter or margarine over medium-high heat in a heavy saucepan at least 3 quarts in size.
Once the butter is melted, add your sugar and 6 ounces of evaporated milk.
Stir that all together and continue to cook and stir until it comes to a boil.
Once it boils, keep stirring and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes, until mixture reaches soft ball stage on a candy thermometer.
What's that, you don't have a candy thermometer
Not to worry. We didn't have one when I was growing up, so I learned to do it old school.

Drizzle a small amount of the boiling mixture into a cup of cold water.
Now stick your fingers in there and see if you can form the mixture into a soft ball. If not, keep cooking, testing every minute or so.
This is what you should end up with.
And if you pop said soft ball into your mouth, you will be a very happy camper. Just sayin'.

So once your mixture has reached the soft ball stage, remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate chips.
Stir until melted, then add your marshmallow cream.
This takes a little longer to stir in than the chocolate chips, because you need to make sure all the little lumps are gone and the mixture is nice and smooth.
Once it is smooth, add your vanilla and stir to mix.
And finally, if you're adding nuts (I prefer pecans), now's the time to do that.
Mix those in and your mixture should look like this.
Pour into your prepared pan and set aside to cool for at least a couple of hours.
Do not refrigerate until completely cooled.
When the fudge is cooled and set, remove foil/fudge from pan and cut into squares.
Sorry, my lighting must have been a bit off, because these look much lighter than they really are.
Still, the fudge is creamy and oh-so delicious. Just like Mom used to make.
And that makes me very happy.

Now it's your turn. Have you ever tried to duplicate a recipe from your childhood and found that it wasn't quite right? If so, what did you do?

Mindy Obenhaus lives in Texas with her husband and kids. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com.


  1. This is awesome, I wouldn't have known that a little difference like that would make a difference... but creaminess is all about ratio! And I'm so happy you investigated, Detective Tex!!!!

    Okay, I'm adding fudge ingredients to my grocery store run... I love fudge. I love giving fudge away because few people make it anymore. And fudge freezes beautifully... I double wrap it in white freezer paper and then when I put trays together for people, I defrost it... and it's marvelous.

    Thank you, Mind-O!!!! And I do soft ball stage and hard crack stages, too... I've tossed every candy thermometer I've had... which might be the reason I burned my sponge candy this week.


    1. Ruthy, I'm glad I cracked this case, too, because fudge has so many happy memories for me. I've never frozen it before, though. I freeze other candies, but not this one. I wonder why? Good to know, though, because I do like you, make ahead several candies/baked goods ahead of time, freeze, then make trays for people closer to Christmas. Don't you just love doing that?

  2. How can starting off your day with fudge be a bad thing????

    Well, how about when you don't have any after reading this and practically drooling. (Such a lovely image!)

    Thanks, Mindy!!!!

    1. Your are correct, Mary Cate, it can't be bad, unless you don't have any. Sorry about that. I'll have to send you some. :)

  3. Thank you, Mindy!

    For the last ten years or so, I've had trouble with my fudge. I blamed it on lower humidity, or my new pots, or the newer pots I replaced the old ones with (mostly because the fudge never turned out right!). I've blamed altitude, my impatience, my new stove, my other new stove....

    I never thought that it might be a change in the ingredients! Of course! I've done the same thing you have - just used the recipe off the back of the jar. I'll never trust the back of the package again.

    Which reminds me...I need to check the pumpkin pie recipe on the back of the Libby's can!

    I'm printing this recipe and using it this weekend with great gratitude.

    1. Jan, it wasn't the lower humidity or your pots. It was a missing ounce of evaporated milk. I guess we never noticed it because the ingredients didn't change. Just the amount of evaporated milk in the can. Who would've imagined they'd do that? And there's nothing like messing with a tradition to set me on a path to the truth.

      BTW, so far, all is good on the pumpkin pie recipe. The large can of evaporated milk is still 12 ounces. :)

  4. Hmmm..fudge. I've never made real fudge just the cheat kind -- you know, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips? But anything with marshmallow fluff has got to be good. :-)

    One of the first things I made when I was a teen was called Jolly Breakfast Ring. I've never found the recipe though I think someone mentioned that monkey bread might come close? It's like a bread dough though i don't think it used yeast, and you made balls out of the dough and rolled them in cinnamon sugar and then put them in a bundt pan and they all smooshed together when they baked.

    1. Kav, that does, indeed, sound like monkey bread. Which is a classic, BTW. One I will likely make Christmas morning.

      I've made the fudge you're talking about. Well, at least once I stopped eating the sweetened condensed milk. How do they make that stuff taste so good? At any rate, I experimented with that recipe during that time when my Fantasy Fudge wasn't right. It's not bad fudge. It's just not as creamy as the Fantasy Fudge. You should give it a go.

  5. That's so amazing, Mindy! I'm glad you did the sleuth work. I never would've imagined that little bit could matter!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Me either, Missy. And if I hadn't honed in on the 6 ounces versus the 5 ounces, I'd still be having fits about my fudge not turning out. :)

  6. Chunky Peanut Butter Fudge using Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme is awesome. Thank you for sharing how the recipe has changed.

    1. Ooo, I bet that would be good, Marilyn. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. That plate of goodies looks delicious! A nice tip I found a couple of years ago on pinterest was to use your mixer when finishing your fudge. I put the marshmallow cream, chocolate chips, vanilla and nuts if using them into the mixing bowl and pour the hot mixture in on top of them, turn the mixer on and let it mix until smooth then pour into the 13x9 buttered pan. It sure saves a lot of stirring by hand especially if making several batches in a row like I usually do. I make some with nuts, some without nuts, some peanut butter, some chocolate & peanut butter mixed, and some mint chocolate. The recipe my mom made for years and I make now is very similar to yours. Ours is called Easy-do fudge. It has 3C sugar, 1/2C butter, 2/3C evaporated milk, 1t vanilla, 7oz marshmallow cream and ` bag of chocolate chips. Nuts are optional. Otherwise the directions are very similar. When I make the peanut butter, I use a bag of peanut butter chips instead of the chocolate chips. My mom always used 1 1/2C of peanut butter.

    1. That's a great idea, Donna. Of course, doesn't hand stirring count as a upper body workout? :) Love the idea of the mixer, though.

      You know, I've been looking for a good peanut butter fudge recipe. Not sure how I feel about the peanut butter chips, but the peanut butter sounds goods. Might have to give that a try. Thanks!