walnut fudge

Making Fudge by Hand

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Fudge is expensive when you buy it in candy stores, but it’s easy to make. The hard part is beating the mixture because it gets so thick.  Electric mixers make the job easy for people today, but years ago, fudge was mixed by hand.

Candy thermometers became available to household cooks in the early 1900s, but they were expensive.  Prior to that, people determined the temperature of their candy mixtures by dropping a bit of the syrup into cold water.  

  • threads – syrup will form a liquid thread that will not form into a ball.
  • soft ball – syrup will form a soft ball.
  • firm ball – syrup will form a firm ball that won’t flatten when you take it out of the water, but you can still flatten it by squeezing.
  • hard ball – syrup will form a hard ball that won’t flatten when you take it out of the water, but you can change its shape by squashing it.
Information Below from two cookbooks:
The Home Candy Makers Canton, Ohio, 1913
Mary M.Wright, 1915

FUDGE is one of the most easily made, and one of the most popular of all the home-made candies.  These candies can be made a great variety of ways. The secret of good fudge lies in the beating. Some stir constantly from the time it is removed from the fire until it turns creamy, while others let it stand until nearly cool, and then beat up until creamy.

Take two cups of sugar, two ounces of chocolate, one cup good milk, and one tablespoon of butter; or if you wish a richer fudge, use two tablespoons of butter. Bring the sugar, milk, and butter to a boil and cook until it threads, or to 235 degrees. Add the chocolate, which should be melted or shaved fine. Stir it in well, then add a teaspoon of vanilla, and beat up until creamy.  Pour into buttered pan or mold, and when cold, cut into neat small squares.

Take two cups of maple sugar, one cup of milk, one tablespoon of butter, and one cup of chopped walnut meats. Boil until the mixture forms a soft ball when dropped into cold water, or to about 240 degrees. Remove from the fire and let stand until nearly cool, then stir until creamy. Pour into greased pans, and when cool, cut into squares.

Brown blanched almonds in the oven and chop rather coarsely. Brown one-half cup granulated sugar in a granite pan, then add two-thirds cup of milk. When the browned sugar is thoroughly dissolved, add one cup of granulated sugar and one tablespoon of butter. Boil until it makes a firm ball when dropped in cold water. Flavor with almond extract and add one cup of the browned almonds. Stir until creamy, then pour into pans and mark off into squares.

Take two cups of granulated sugar, one cup of strong boiled coffee, one-half cup of cream and a teaspoon of butter. Boil to the soft ball stage, then add a cup of chopped nut meats, and stir until creamy. Pour into pans and cut into squares. The nuts may be omitted if desired.

Take two cupfuls of brown sugar, one cupful of milk, and one teaspoonful of butter. When oily nuts are used in fudge one does not need to use so much butter. Boil to the thread or soft ball stage, and then add one cupful of finely ground peanuts and one teaspoonful vanilla. If preferred, peanut butter may be used. Beat up until creamy, pour into buttered pans, and cut into squares.

Take two cups of light brown sugar, add one-half cup of golden corn syrup, and one-half cup of water. Boil to the hard ball stage. Add one cup of chopped walnut meats, and one teaspoon of vanilla, and then pour over the stiffly beaten whites of two eggs. Beat up until light and foamy. Pour into buttered pans, and when cool, mark off into squares.

These are fine and are made by pouring one kind of fudge upon another in layers. For this purpose, one should use only the fudges that combine well together. Layers of several different kinds of fudge may be used, or only two, as desired. A chocolate fudge with a layer of divinity fudge between is delicious. Pour half of the chocolate fudge into a pan, and when cool, pour over it a layer of divinity fudge. Then when this has cooled, pour over the remainder of the chocolate fudge which should have been kept hot in a bowl set in hot water. Fruit and nut fudges make a good combination.

Take two cups granulated sugar, one cup milk, and one tablespoon butter. Boil to the hard ball stage. Take it off the fire and add one teaspoon vanilla and one cup grated cocoanut. Mix this in, then add a half-dozen marshmallows. Let stand a while until soft, then pour the mixture over the stiffly beaten whites of two eggs. Beat up until it begins to get creamy, then pour into buttered pans and when cool, cut into squares.

Take a cup of barley and brown it in the oven. Be careful not to burn it, but have it a nice brown. Run this through the coffee-grinder. Take two cups of brown sugar, one-half cup corn syrup, one-half cup milk and one tablespoon butter. Boil to the soft ball stage, add a tablespoon of vanilla, then stir in the ground barley. Stir until creamy and pour out into a buttered pan When cold, cut into squares.

photo credit

Candy Making Stages – the cold water candy test

Do You Make Homemade Candy?

Posted in Candy.


  1. Burnt almond and coffee fudge! MMMM! Never heard of either but both sound wonderful.

    • I’ve never seen either of those flavors for sale, either. I wonder why I haven’t seen coffee fudge. It seems like coffee shops would have thought to sell it.

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