In short, there are 3 main reasons why your fudge might not set the way you want it to.
First, and most commonly, your fudge might be too soft and runny because it hasn’t been cooked at a high enough temperature.
Sometimes, though, you might encounter the opposite problem: fudge that is too hard because it has been overcooked.
Fudge recipes usually specify a cooling process after cooking.
This needs to be followed to the letter if you want your fudge to set exactly right, so failure to cool fudge correctly can also be responsible for problems with the setting process.
Lastly, using the wrong ingredients or adding ingredients in the wrong quantities can lead to problems when it comes to setting your fudge.
The process of making homemade fudge is very rewarding, especially when you get to taste the delicious results.
However, the issue of fudge not setting properly can be extremely frustrating.
Luckily, if your fudge isn’t setting correctly, there are only about 3 reasons for this, and there are things you can do to fix the problem.
We’ll be discussing the reasons why your fudge might not be setting properly and what you can do about it moving forward in this guide, so read on to learn how to master the art of preparing your own homemade fudge!
Fudge Not Setting Due To Low Temperature
As we mentioned earlier, probably the most common reason why fudge doesn’t set properly is that it hasn’t been cooked at the correct temperature.
Typically, fudge needs to be cooked between 237 and 239 degrees Fahrenheit, which isn’t a big range, so keeping your fudge at the right temperature can be tricky.
That’s why we recommend using a thermometer to monitor the temperature of your fudge.
You can usually tell if fudge hasn’t been cooked at a sufficiently high temperature because it will have a gummy consistency and feel sticky to the touch.
Sometimes, the issue isn’t so much to do with the actual temperature and more about how long the fudge has been cooked for.
This is an easy mistake to make when you’re new to cooking fudge because many people worry so much about the fudge being overcooked that they take it off the heat too soon.
Saving Undercooked Fudge
If you’ve been waiting for your fudge to set for several hours and it’s still too gooey, don’t worry – you don’t need to throw your fudge away just yet.
There is a way to save undercooked fudge so that it sets properly.
First, remove the fudge from your refrigerator and transfer it back into your cooking pan.
You’ll want to use a scraping utensil to get as much of the fudge mixture in the pan as possible so none is wasted.
Now, don’t be tempted to put the fudge mixture straight back on the heat as it is.
This is likely to dry it out and cause it to stick to the pan.
So, before you turn the heat up under your fudge, add about a cup and a half of cool water.
When you do put the heat back on, don’t blast it.
Instead, set it to a low temperature to start with and stir continually so that the water and fudge mix evenly together.
Eventually, the fudge should dissolve into the water creating a liquid fudge mixture.
This can be a long process, but it’s important to wait until the fudge has fully dissolved so that you end up with a smooth fudge texture at the end.
Bear in mind that adding water to the fudge can dilute the flavor, so it’s worth doing a quick taste test and adding some extra flavoring if necessary.
Once you’re sure that the fudge has dissolved properly and that the mixture isn’t too diluted in terms of flavor, you can go ahead and bump the heat up to medium.
At this point, all you need to do is wait for the mixture to come to a boil, making sure not to stir the fudge.
When the fudge does begin to boil, you’ll need to use a damp pastry brush (which you should have ready in advance so that you can use it at the crucial moment) to brush the edges of the pan.
This will stop sugar crystals from forming around the sides.
Pay attention to the recipe you’re following and take into account how long it says to cook the fudge.
You’ll want to make sure that you keep the fudge at the recommended temperature for as long as the recipe recommends.
Don’t be tempted to make the same mistake as last time and remove the fudge from the heat too soon.
Only once you’re absolutely sure that the fudge has been cooked at the recommended temperature for the correct amount of time should you turn off the heat and move the pan away from the stovetop so it doesn’t keep cooking on residual heat.
Again, you’ll want to consult your recipe to ensure that you beat the fudge for the proper length of time while it cools.
If you don’t beat the fudge, or beat it incorrectly, it still may not set the way you want it to.
Fudge Setting Too Hard Due to Overcooking
Frustratingly, overcooking your fudge can lead to setting issues just as undercooking it can.
However, the difference between overcooked and undercooked fudge is that fudge that has been cooked for too long or at too high a temperature becomes hard and crumbly.
Sadly, unlike fudge that has been undercooked, not much can be done to salvage overcooked fudge.
Depending on how much you’ve overcooked your fudge, you might still be able to enjoy it.
However, for some people, the tough and grainy texture of overdone fudge is just too unpalatable, and overcooked batches end up in the trash.
Fudge That Won’t Set Due To Cooling
While most cases of rock-hard, grainy fudge are related to overcooking, there is another potential reason why your fudge’s texture might be too firm after setting, and that’s the cooling process.
The cooling process is arguably just as important as cooking when it comes to making the perfect fudge.
If you don’t beat the fudge properly while it cools or don’t let it cool for long enough, your fudge will probably not turn out the way you wanted.
Even cooling the fudge at the wrong temperature, putting it in the refrigerator too soon or having your refrigerator set too cold or too warm compared to what your recipe recommends can have a bigger impact than you might think.
When it comes to fudge that hasn’t been cooled properly, the dissolving and reheating process can sometimes fix the texture, but it’s not usually as effective in this situation as it is for undercooked fudge.
Setting Issues Because Of Ingredients
Another reason why your fudge might not be setting the way you expected is to do with the ingredients.
Fudge recipes need to be followed very carefully for the most part because even the slightest mistake in measuring the ingredients or a seemingly harmless substitution can cause problems during the setting process and even completely alter the final texture of your fudge.
To avoid problems of this nature when making fudge, it’s best to work with a recipe that already meets all your dietary requirements rather than amending a recipe with substitutions.
For example, if you’re vegan, it’s better to use a recipe that calls for plant-based milk from the start instead of substituting dairy milk for a milk replacement.
Additionally, if you know that your weighing scales aren’t always accurate, you may wish to recalibrate them or replace them before you try making fudge.
If you’re using a measuring jug to measure out your ingredients, be sure to keep the jug on a flat surface and check the measurements at eye level for accuracy.
It’s always best to take your time when making fudge to prevent avoidable mistakes.
Rushing anything in the kitchen is likely to lead to less than perfect results, and since making fudge can be such a tricky process, this is not the time to take shortcuts.
Making Fudge The Easier Way
As you’ve probably gathered by now, making fudge the traditional way isn’t exactly the easiest process.
Most people find that it takes them a few attempts to get their homemade fudge just right, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
As with anything in life, practice makes perfect!
However, if you don’t want to risk wasting time and ingredients, you might want to follow one of the quicker and easier fudge recipes rather than using the standard method to make your fudge.
For example, you can find fudge recipes online that call for condensed milk or marshmallow fluff rather than the traditional fudge ingredients.
The ingredients listed in the quick and easy fudge recipes will be easier to work with and won’t be as easily affected by small mistakes such as slight deviations from the recommended temperature and cooling process.
Admittedly, if you’re a big fan of traditional fudge and are used to the flavor of the classic recipes, you might not like the corner-cutting, simple fudge recipes as much, but if you’re more of a casual fudge fan and are worried about not executing the traditional recipe properly, it’s always an option.
If you’ve tried making fudge and noticed that it hasn’t set quite right, don’t be discouraged! Most people will need a few trial runs before they make the perfect fudge.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that most setting issues when it comes to homemade fudge are related to overcooking, undercooking, cooling, or ingredients.
Make sure to always follow the recipe meticulously when it comes to cooking temperatures and times as well as cooling methods and ingredients.
If you’re struggling with traditional fudge recipes, you can always try following one that calls for less sensitive ingredients such as marshmallow or condensed milk.
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