Alcohol plays an important role in cooking and baking. It’s the key ingredient that brings out the flavor in fruit dishes, savory foods and baked goods. In rum fudge, the alcohol bonds with fat and water to intensify the taste of chocolate and other ingredients. No matter what you’ve heard, however, the alcohol doesn’t cook out by the time the fudge is finished. There isn’t enough alcohol in most fudge recipes to get you drunk, but it could pose a problem for recovering alcoholics, pregnant women or people with religious dietary restrictions.
How Rum Makes Fudge Better
Adding rum to fudge makes the flavors more accessible to human taste buds. The alcohol carries aromas readily and helps your aroma receptors absorb the smells and flavors more effectively. Rum bonds with the fat in chocolate and dairy products as well as the water-soluble flavor compounds. This makes it easier for your aroma receptors, which respond to fat molecules, to absorb the taste of the fudge.
Your Fudge Won’t Get You Tipsy
Most rum fudge recipes contain only a few tablespoons of alcohol in the whole batch. That’s the equivalent of one standard shot glass. If your recipe calls for adding the alcohol after you take the fudge off the heat, the finished product will contain almost all its original alcohol. If you add the rum with the other ingredients and simmer for about 15 minutes, the alcohol content drops by about 60 percent. No matter how you cook rum fudge, it always contains at least a little alcohol, but a piece or two won’t affect you much.
Lose the Booze, Keep the Flavor
If you need to make fudge without alcohol, but want to keep the distinctive rum flavor, try using rum extract. Use one part rum extract plus three parts water as a direct substitute for the alcohol in your recipe. You lose the taste-amplifying benefits of liquor, but retain the rum flavor. Rum extract contains a trace amount of alcohol. This minute amount of alcohol is considered halal in baking and cooking Arabic dishes. Fudge made with rum extract might not be appropriate for recovering alcoholics or people with greater dietary restrictions.
Rum Substitutes for Teetotalers
When you can’t use even a minute amount of alcohol in your fudge, consider substituting fruit juice. Use an equivalent amount of apple or white grape juice. Fruit juice will change the flavor profile of your fudge, but adds a similar sweet tanginess that contrasts well with chocolate.
References and ResourcesFine Cooking: Alcohol’s Role in Cooking
Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America: Synopsis on Alcohol
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: How to Be a Gourmet and a Mormon Too
Andrew Weil: Does Alcohol Really Cook Out of Food?
University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Ingredient Substitutions
Gourmet Sleuth: Nonalcoholic Substitutes for Wines, Spirits and Liqueurs
ResourcesWoman & Home: Rum and Raisin Fudge Recipe
What’s Cooking America: Alcohol Burn Off in Cooking