Award winning fudge recipe. Kansas State Fair. (2024)

Published: · Modified: by Lea Ann Brown · This post may contain affiliate links

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This is an Old Fashioned Fudge Recipe. An award winning fudge recipe that’s been in our family for generations. Winning the Division Sweepstakes at the Kansas State Fair, this recipe is made with marshmallow creme and condensed milk. An easy chocolate fudge recipe that will become a Christmas tradition.

Award winning fudge recipe. Kansas State Fair. (1)

Where Did I Learn To Make This Recipe?

The easy chocolate fudge has been passed down from my great great grandmother, to my grandmother, and to my aunts. Now it’s up to us kids to keep this recipe alive and well. It’s an old fashioned fudge with evaporated milk and marshmallow creme. It’s easy to make and always a crowd pleaser.

My mother made batch after batch of this homemade chocolate fudge every single Christmas that I can remember.I’ve called it Christmas Fudge my whole life. She made box after box of it for gifts to give to friends, neighbors, school teachers, mail delivery guys, … school bus drivers.

It’s an easy fudge recipe, it’s an old fashioned fudge recipe with marshmallow creme and evaporated milk.

Making fudge is easy, as long as you follow the simple directions. Let’s take a look.

Table of contents

  • Where Did I Learn To Make This Recipe?
  • Ingredients You’ll Need
  • How To Make Old Fashioned Fudge … Step by Step
  • Hard Ball, Soft Ball … What Is Softball Stage When Making Fudge?
    • Candy Temperature Chart
  • Tips For Success – Important
  • Pro-Tip
  • Fudge Recipe with Marshmallow Fluff and Condensed Milk
  • Award Winning Fudge
    • More Holiday Recipe Ideas

Ingredients You’ll Need

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The ingredients are simple and the method is quite easy, let’s take a look.

  • Unsalted Butter. Butter brings a creamy buttery flavor to the party. You can use salted butter if you’d like.
  • Sugar: Butter and sugar go hand in hand with almost all baking projects. Granulated is called for in this recipe.
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: This recipe calls for Semi-sweet chocolate chips. The common chocolate chip which is lower in cacao and is sweeter than bittersweet chocolate chips. You could also use bittersweet chocolate chips for this recipe, which are higher in cacao. They are interchangeable with a slightly different flavor profile.
  • Milk Chocolate Chocolate Chips: Milk Chocolate Chips are even sweeter than semi-sweet chocolate chips. Milk chocolate chips bring a creamy texture to this fudge recipe.
  • Fudge With Evaporated Milk: Don’t confuse unsweetened evaporated milk with sweetened condensed milk. Even though both products are condensed, plain evaporated milk in unsweetened. Sweetened Condensed Milk, is very sweet. Using sweetened condensed milk in this recipe would make it too sweet.
  • Fudge with Marshmallow Fluff: Or some brand may be labeled Marshmallow Creme. It’s simply a confectionary spread that tastes like marshmallows, but with a different texture. I’ve used both products with success, however, Marshmallow Creme is easier to manage.
  • Vanilla: Vanilla prices have skyrocketed over the last few years. Use the best quality you can, in your price limit range. I like Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Vanilla Vanilla Paste. It’s a beautiful product that comes with a pretty price.
  • Walnuts: I’ve always used walnuts for this recipe, but you can substitute pecans.

How To Make Old Fashioned Fudge … Step by Step

Fudge may seem harmless enough, but keep in mind, Fudge is a candy recipe. Meaning that you cook sugar to a “stage”. It’s important to follow these directions closely so the texture of the fudge will be perfectly “fudgy” and creamy.

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  • Step 1: Using a good heavy saucepan, add condensed milk, butter and sugar. I use my Le Creuset 6 quart Dutch oven. But any large heavy sauce pan will work.
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  • Step 2: Set the mixture on the stove top and turn you burner on high heat. Bring the butter, sugar, milk mixture to a rolling boil. Keep the mixture at boiling stage, stirring constantly. It’s important to stir constantly so the mixture won’t burn and stick to the bottom of the pan. Boil until the mixture reaches soft ball stage, or 234 – 240 degrees. A candy thermometer is an inexpensive and useful tool to have here.
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  • Step 3: Once the mixture has reached soft ball stage, remove it from the heat and quickly stir in Marshmallow Creme (or Fluff) and Chocolate Chips.
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Step 4: Working quickly and using your best elbow grease, stir the mixture quickly and vigorously to combine the ingredients into a smooth chocolate mix.

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  • Step 5: Once the mixture is well mixed, pour the chocolate fudge into a buttered 9 x 13 pan. I like to use the edge of a wooden spoon to make little peaks in the fudge. Let cool and set up for a couple of hours. Cover with plastic wrap until you’re ready to cut.

Hard Ball, Soft Ball … What Is Softball Stage When Making Fudge?

I remember watching my mom with intent, with her precision of getting the sugar mixtures at just the right temperatures to make candy recipes work. She’d drop a small teaspoon of the boiling sugar mixture into a glass of cold water. If the sugar formed into just the right ball consistency, the candy was ready to form.

Cooking sugar for fudge must be cooked to what is called soft ball stage. Meaning that sugar is cooked to a temperature 234 – 240 degrees. If that temperature has been reached, a small dollop of that hot sugar when dropped into a glass of cold water will form a soft ball, or a soft clump. When you remove that clump from the water, it should hold its shape for a short while before flattening.

Learning this method is a great skill to know, however, owning a candy thermometer is a very valuable tool when it’s time for candy making. And an easier method for precision. Candy thermometers aren’t expensive.

Most candy thermometers clearly display the temperature stages, but if you have one that doesn’t, here’s a list of temps to help you out.

Candy Temperature Chart

  • Thread – 230 – 234
  • Soft Ball – 234 – 242
  • Firm Ball – 243 – 249
  • Hard Ball – 250 – 269
  • Soft Crack – 270 – 294
  • Hard Crack – 295 – 319
  • Light Caramel – 320 – 325
  • Dark Caramel – 326 – 350

FAQ’s and Tips

How well does fudge freeze?

Want to get a head start on your holiday baking? Make this fudge ahead and pop it in the freezer. Fudge freezes very well, with possibly just a slight alter in the texture. I like to slice the fudge into squares first. If using a container that you can layer the pieces, use parchment paper or waxed paper between layers. Unthaw fudge in the refrigerator.

How To Store Fudge?

How long does fudge last out of the fridge? Store fudge in an airtight container at room temperature. It will last one to two weeks. You can refrigerate fudge, but the cold temps will dry it out.

Can I Make Fudge Without Nuts?

Absolutely, the nuts are just for a little fun and crunch. They make no difference in the cooking process.

Can I Half This Recipe?

Looking to make a small batch fudge recipe? Yes. This recipe is very easy to cut in half. Just use a 9 x 9 pan rather than a 9 x 13.

Whats The Best Way To Slice Fudge?

Let the fudge come to room temperature before cutting into squares. I find that squares just slightly over an 1 1/2 is a good measurement for a 9 x 13 pan.

Tips For Success – Important

  • Tip On Cooking Sugar Mixture For Fudge: I highly recommend using a candy thermometer to make this recipe. They’re inexpensive and they take the worry out of cooking sugar. For instance, if you over cook the sugar to a higher temperature than the 242 degrees (soft-ball stage) there’s no turning back. The texture of the fudge will be compromised and you’ll more than likely have to start over. That’s spoken from experience.
  • About Candy Thermometers: Not all sauce pans are created equal. Different materials will cook the sugar mixture at slightly different times. I’ve seen recipes that say cook for 5 minutes and you magically achieve the proper candy temperature to make fudge. Bad advice! Altitude (I’m at high altitude) and pan types carry too much clout to rely on a simple designated time. I don’t know about you, but I hate throwing out food and starting over. Use a candy thermometer!

Pro-Tip

Working quickly while making this fudge recipe is important. Have everything ready to go by emptying the chocolate chips into a bowl, remove the marshmallow creme from the containers into a bowl. I even empty the nuts into a small bowl ahead of time.

Fudge Recipe with Marshmallow Fluff and Condensed Milk

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Award Winning Fudge

My cousin Brooke entered this Christmas Fudge recipe in the Kansas State Fair when she was 11 years old and ended up winning the Junior Division Sweepstakes.

The recipe was published in “A Century of Good Cooking, Kansas State Fair”cookbook, and she won 30 pounds of sugar. 🙂

So with all of that said here’s that award-winning homemade fudge recipe.

I hope you give this old fashioned fudge recipe a try. And if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating. And leave a comment about your experience.

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And if you have a homemade fudge recipe, or a favorite Christmas Candy Recipe let me know, I’d love to give it a try.

More Holiday Recipe Ideas

  • Cream Cheese Cherry Dessert
  • Blackberry Merlot Wine Jelly
  • Almond Chambord Raspberry Bars
  • Sparkling Raspberry Prosecco Chambord co*cktail

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Award Winning Old Fashioned Fudge Recipe

A Kansas State Fair Award Winning Fudge Recipe.

5 from 6 votes

Print Pin Rate

Course: Appetizer Recipes

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes minutes

Servings: 24

Calories: 364kcal

Author: Lea Ann Brown

Ingredients

  • 8 Tablespoons butter 1 stick
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk 1 can
  • 12 ounce semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 12 ounce milk chocolate chips
  • 14 ounces marshmallow creme 2 small 7 ounce containers.
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Instructions

  • Add butter, sugar and evaporated milk in heavy bottom good quality saucepan. I use my 6 quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven.

  • Turn heat on high. Start stirring and continually stir while the mixture comes to a rolling boil.

  • Continue stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or until it gets to a "soft ball" stage. Your candy thermometer should read between 234 – 240 degrees. If you don't have a candy thermometer, after 5 minutes drop a small dollop of the sugar mixture into a glass of cold water. If it forms a soft ball "clump" the sugar mixture is hot enough. If the ball doesn't form, cook for another minute or so.

  • Remove from the pan from the heat; stir in the chocolate chips, and marshmallow creme. After a few stirs, add the vanilla. Mix until well blended then add nuts and stir to combine.

  • Pour into a buttered 9 x 13 inch pan.

  • Let the fudge completely cool at room temperature before cutting into squares.

Notes

Mise en place: Working quickly while making this fudge recipe is important. Have everything ready to go by emptying the chocolate chips into a bowl, remove the marshmallow creme from the containers into a bowl. I even empty the nuts into a small bowl ahead of time.

Stir! Never ever skip the instruction to constantly stir. If you don’t the mixture will stick to the bottom of the pan, reducing the amount of liquid for the creamy texture and you’ll have a mess to clean up.

Candy Thermometer: I highly recommend using a candy thermometer to make this recipe. They’re inexpensive and they take the worry out of cooking sugar. For instance, if you over cook the sugar to higher than the 242 degrees (soft-ball stage) there’s no turning back. The texture of the fudge will be compromised and you’ll more than likely have to start over. That’s spoken from experience.

Pro Tip: Not all sauce pans are created equal. Different materials will cook the sugar mixture at slightly different times. I’ve seen recipes that say cook the sugar mixture for 5 minutes and you’ll magically reach the proper temperature to make fudge. Altitude and pan types carry too much clout to rely on a simple designated cooking time. Bad advice! I don’t know about you, but I hate throwing out food and starting over. Use a candy thermometer please.

Slicing Fudge: Let the fudge come to room temperature before cutting into squares. I find that squares just slightly over an 1 1/2 is a good measurement for a 9 x 13 pan.

How well does fudge freeze? Want to get a head start on your holiday baking? Make this fudge ahead and pop it in the freezer. Fudge freezes very well, with possibly just a slight alter in the texture. I like to slice the fudge into squares first. If using a container that you can layer the pieces, use parchment paper or waxed paper between layers. Unthaw fudge in the refrigerator.

Storing Fudge: How long does fudge last out of the fridge? Store fudge in an airtight container at room temperature. It will last one to two weeks. You can refrigerate fudge, but the cold temps will dry it out.

Can I half this recipe? Yes. This recipe is very easy to cut in half. Just use a 9 x 9 pan rather than a 9 x 13.

Nutrition

Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 50mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 54g | Vitamin A: 158IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg

Tried this Recipe? Please leave a comment and star rating below. Or tag me on InstagramMention @CookingOnTheRanch or tag #cookingontheranch

Old Fashioned Fudge Recipe with Condensed Milk …It’s What’s For Christmas

Award winning fudge recipe. Kansas State Fair. (11)

Lea Ann Brown

Why Trust These Recipes? Lea Ann Brown has lived, worked and played in Colorado for 45 years. She has immersed herself in the Colorado Culinary space, is a Culinary School Graduate and publishes her Colorado food Blog, Cooking On The Ranch.

Award winning fudge recipe. Kansas State Fair. (2024)

FAQs

What is the secret to good fudge? ›

Tips for Making Fudge
  • Monitor the Temperature with a Candy Thermometer. If you end up with soft fudge that turns into a puddle in your hands or hard fudge that is a bit reminiscent of a crunchy candy, improper temperature is likely to blame. ...
  • Avoid Stirring Once the Mixture Comes to a Simmer. ...
  • Beat Thoroughly.
Mar 8, 2023

What is the world's best fudge? ›

Mackinac Island Fudge – The Best Fudge on Earth
  • Original Murdick's Fudge.
  • Joann's Fudge.
  • Ryba's Fudge Shops.

What does cream of tartar do in fudge? ›

Cream of tartar is used in caramel sauces and fudge to help prevent the sugar from crystallizing while cooking. It also prevents cooling sugars from forming brittle crystals, this is why it's the secret ingredient in snickerdoodles!

How long does it take fudge to reach 234 degrees? ›

Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, without stirring, until the thermometer registers 234 degrees, about 20 to 25 minutes. The mixture should boil at a moderate, steady rate over the entire surface. While the fudge is cooking, prepare the baking pan.

Is evaporated milk or condensed milk better for fudge? ›

Use Evaporated Milk- Make sure to use evaporated milk and not sweetened condensed milk. If you accidentally use sweetened condensed milk your fudge will be incredibly over the top sweet. Cut up the Butter– Before adding the butter in make sure to cut it into smaller pieces for faster melting.

What is the secret to smooth fudge that is not gritty? ›

Once a seed crystal forms, it grows bigger and bigger as the fudge cools. A lot of big crystals in fudge makes it grainy. By letting the fudge cool without stirring, you avoid creating seed crystals.

Why is Mackinac Island fudge so good? ›

To obtain the world famous taste, the fudge is slowly cooked in traditional copper kettles over a gas flame. Once the desired temperature is reached, the mixture is poured onto marble slabs for a cooling period and then hand-paddled into loaves.

What city is known for fudge? ›

As Mackinac Island evolved from a center of fur trade into a summer resort destination, Victorian-era vacationers began to identify the island with sweets. At first, the most common candy was maple sugar harvested by Native Americans.

What makes fudge firmer? ›

Cooking is necessary to dissolve sugar crystals and to evaporate part of the water in the cream. The length of this step has a direct impact on the firmness of the fudge. As water gradually evaporates, sugar is concentrated and the temperature of the mixture rises above 100°C (212°F).

Why does homemade fudge get hard? ›

Too cooked

This fudge was cooked to a temperature of 118 °C (244 °F). At this temperature, the sugar is too concentrated and there is not enough water left to form syrup around sugar crystals. The result is hard and brittle fudge. To save the fudge, put it in a saucepan with 45 to 60 ml (3 or 4 tbsp.)

What keeps fudge from getting hard? ›

Too Soft or Too Hard Fudge

The amount of time you cook fudge directly affects its firmness. Too little time and the water won't evaporate, causing the fudge to be soft. Conversely, cook it too long and fudge won't contain enough water, making it hard with a dry, crumbly texture.

Should I stir fudge while boiling? ›

Stir the ingredients to dissolve the sugar until the mixture comes to a boil. If your recipe uses milk, stirring will keep the mixture from curdling. But once it reaches about 236–238 degrees F/113–114 degrees C (the "soft-ball" stage), do not stir it or even shake the pan.

Why did my fudge come out like taffy? ›

If the fudge is very soft and slightly chewy then it is possible that it did not quite cook to soft ball stage and next time the mixture should be cooked to a slightly higher temperature (soft ball is 112-116c/235-240F and a sugar or candy thermometer can help).

Can I beat fudge with electric mixer? ›

Immediately stir the fudge with the wooden spoon or beat on low speed with an electric mixer. The mixture should seem runny at first. Continue to stir vigorously or beat on low speed until the mixture begins to thicken slightly and loses some of its shine, 18 to 22 minutes.

Should you stir fudge constantly? ›

It is important to stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to thicken and its surface starts to look dull or matte. Now is the time to stop beating and pour the fudge into a mould. Another tip: Do not scrape the sides of the pan or the spoon used for stirring.

What gives fudge its firm texture? ›

The key to creamy, luscious fudge is controlling crystal formation. If the sucrose (table sugar) crystals are small, the fudge will feel creamy and smooth on your tongue. But if the crystals are large, the fudge develops a crumbly, dry, or even coarse texture.

What makes fudge softer? ›

Undercooked. This fudge was cooked until the temperature reached only108 °C (226 °F). At this temperature, the sugar is not concentrated enough... there is too much leftover water in the syrup and the resulting fudge is soft.

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