Fudge sets based on the ratio of components and the temperature — if anything is wrong you could end up with a goopy mess.
What do you do if your fudge doesn’t set? It depends on why it didn’t set. Sometimes you can salvage the fudge by changing the ingredients or by changing the temperature. Otherwise, you may need to use your fudge in a different recipe altogether.
Regardless, don’t throw it away! There’s still a lot that you can do with fudge, even if it isn’t setting up properly.
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Why Doesn’t Fudge Set?
Most fudge is cooked by heating it to a specific temperature, mixing all the ingredients just right, and then allowing it to cool. Once it cools, it is beaten so that it will harden — this is an essential step for old-fashioned fudge that isn’t there in modern fudge. There are modern fudge recipes that take a lot of guesswork out (some even use the microwave). But most old-fashioned fudge recipes are going to require that you get everything correct for it to set.
The most common issue with fudge setting is not bringing it to the right temperature. Getting it to the right temperature prepares it for setting correctly; otherwise, it’ll just become a gooey chocolate mess.
Of course, there are other alternatives; you might have added too much milk, for instance, which will end up with either a softer or runnier product. This is a common mistake if you’re trying to convert a recipe or use different units of measurement.
What Should You Do If Your Fudge Didn’t Set?
First, scrape all the fudge back into your pot. Add water until the mixture is runny again, usually about a cup and a half, but it depends on the recipe that you’re using. Let the fudge completely dissolve within the water on medium heat before bringing it up to a boil.
Bring the fudge back to boiling temperature (212 F). Cook at the temperature specified at the recipe again and then take it off the heat. Repeat the steps of cooling the fudge and then beating it until it has lost its sheen.
Once the material is no longer shiny, you can pour it into a pan and see if it sets up. Let it cool completely to room temperature before placing it in a refrigerator.
If it still doesn’t set, then there may be another issue, and you might need to reuse it instead. You can reuse fudge for many things: chocolate sauce for ice cream, icing for cakes and cupcakes, or a drizzle for cookies and other pastry desserts. Fudge that doesn’t set is essentially a chocolate sauce or a thick pudding.
What Are Some Recipes You Can Use Your Fudge For?
If your fudge failed to set, there are a few other uses for it. Your fudge is useful in recipes that call for melted chocolate.
First, you could make brownies with your failed fudge; the fact that it didn’t set properly shouldn’t interfere. Instead, you’ll get rich, thick chocolate brownies.
You can also make molten lava cake with fudge that didn’t set properly because the fudge should still melt inside of the cake; of course, if it’s very runny that could be a challenge.
Fudge can be used in pudding cakes, regular cakes, and cupcakes, replacing melted chocolate directly. Keep in mind that unless your fudge is very dark, the recipes will come out sweeter, especially if they request semi-sweet or dark chocolate or baking chocolate.
Other things you can use fudge for include truffles (the interior filling, though you may need to freeze it first) or chocolate fruits (you can use it for fondue and dip fruit into it).
How Can You Avoid Fudge Not Setting?
Recipes that include marshmallows or condensed milk will almost always set up; it’s very hard to botch these recipes. Marshmallows provide a natural thickening agent, as does the condensed milk; if you put it in the refrigerator, it will thicken up regardless.
So, if you’re having a hard time trying to get your old-fashioned fudge to set, you might just want to try a different recipe.
You can use these “modern” fudge recipes like any other fudge recipe, including mix-ins, flavoring, and other flourishes — they just have a different base. They’re also slightly less challenging, which means you’re less likely to experience grainy textures or other mishaps.
- How can I ensure that my fudge is at the right temperature? Using a candy thermometer is the best way to avoid any temperature-related issues.
- What if my modern fudge didn’t set? Modern fudge almost always sets; the only challenge could be if there were too many liquids introduced. In this case, you may need to use it as a chocolate sauce, instead.
- Are there any mix-ins to avoid? Using a lot of liquid-based mix-ins (such as syrups) can throw off the fudge ratio, as can using alcohol-based mix-ins (like brandy). If you’re adding more liquid, you need to reduce the amount of condensed milk or other kinds of milk to compensate.
- What if my fudge is hard or grainy? These texture issues can often be resolved by reheating and then cooling slowly. But if your texture is very grainy, you might need to use the fudge for something else.
- How can I tell if my candy thermometer is working right? Your candy thermometer should read 212 F when placed in boiling water. If it doesn’t, you need a new one.
- How quickly should my fudge set? You shouldn’t judge your fudge set until it has completely cooled.
- How long do I need to beat the fudge? When making an old-fashioned recipe, you should continue to beat the fudge until it’s no longer shiny.