Easy to Make Fudge
Peanut butter fudge sounds delicious to any peanut butter lover. Fudge, on the other hand, sounds hard. It sounds like it would be a challenge for any cook in the kitchen, possibly requiring a lot of special equipment. In reality… easy. Making fudge is really no harder than dumping some ingredients in a pot, boiling for a few minutes, stirring in some flavors and letting it set. Why is it so easy? Well, because if you use marshmallow creme (a smoother, semi-liquid form of marshmallows) most of the work is done for you.
Along with marshmallow creme, you will need sugar, evaporated milk, butter, some vanilla and of course peanut butter for this peanut butter fudge. I recommend using smooth peanut butter and choosing a brand that has only two ingredients: peanuts and salt. Most peanut butters on the market include sugar, which I think is completely unnecessary for every day use and a bad idea for this recipe that already adds 2 cups of sugar to the mix. So, grab a jar of natural peanut butter or buy the kind that you can grind yourself at the grocery store.
Tips for Making Fudge
The key to making good fudge is to make sure the sugar at the beginning cooks to the right stage. That stage is called “soft ball” stage, or 235ºF to 245ºF. If you have a candy thermometer, you’re in luck and it is very easy to measure when the sugar reaches the right temperature. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, all is not lost. Once the sugar, evaporated milk and butter have started to boil, monitor the heat underneath the pot to maintain a boil without boiling over and time for 5 minutes. That should take your sugar roughly to soft ball stage, but to test it drop a small amount (about ¼ teaspoon) into a bowl of ice water. The sugar will clump together and you should be able to pick it out of the water with your fingers and roll it into a soft ball. If it doesn’t, continue to boil for a few more minutes and test again. Once the sugar has reached soft ball stage, all you have to do is stir in the peanut butter, the marshmallow creme and some vanilla extract. The marshmallow creme saves you from having to beat the fudge until your arm falls off.
How to Store and Freeze Fudge
This peanut butter fudge sets up quite quickly, so make sure you have a 9-inch cake pan ready to go, greased or lined with parchment paper. Pour the fudge into the pan and then scatter the roasted salted peanuts on top, pressing them into the fudge so they stick well. Let the fudge set up in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Then, you can cut the fudge into squares. I like to make small pieces of fudge because a little goes a long way. If you cut the fudge into 7 rows of 7 (49 pieces), you can actually keep each serving of fudge down around 100 calories which takes off a load of guilt… as long as you can keep your portion to just one square!
You can store the fudge at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It depends on how you like your fudge – if you like it super soft, leave it out; if you prefer it a bit harder and cold, store it in the refrigerator. Wherever you choose to store it, make sure it is in an airtight container to keep it from drying out. It will keep well for 3 weeks.
If you want to freeze fudge, remove it from the pan and wrap it as well as possible – plastic wrap and then aluminum foil – to keep it from drying out. You can freeze it for up to 3 months if it is well wrapped. If it is not well wrapped and dries out in the freezer, the texture will change and become crumbly when you defrost it.
Other Fudge Recipes
I think it’s nice to put the fudge into little bags or boxes as a gift for friends and neighbors. You could even make different flavors of fudge to create an assortment of fudge to give or offer around. Basic Chocolate Fudge is a winner with all, or you could try the decadent Dark Chocolate Orange Fudge for something a little more unique. White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Fudge with chopped green pistachios on top has a very Christmastime look to it, and Sucre à la Creme is the traditional French Canadian fudge seen in Quebec and all across Canada around the holidays. Any (or dare I say “all”) of these fudge flavors would make a spectacular fudge tray!