Dreamy, melt in your mouth caramel fudge begins with sweetened condensed milk; depending on the recipe, ingredients such as butter, brown sugar, milk and demerara sugar can be used to create a rich caramel flavor. Caramel fudge is a little trickier to create than traditional chocolate versions, but once the “boil and beat” technique is mastered, the result is a sweet, luxurious treat.
Chocolate vs. Caramel
Chocolate fudge can be prepared using as few as two ingredients, chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk, which are melted over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave. Caramel fudge requires more technique in lieu of chocolate; it must be brought to a rolling boil on the stove top, and then beaten until firm. Ingredients such as brown sugar or demerara sugar — a type of unrefined sugar — create caramel flavors, while butter and milk bring the ingredients together to create a silky texture characteristic of caramel.
The "Boil" Stage
Add a 14-ounce can or two of sweetened condensed milk to a pan. Add 1/3 cup of unsalted butter, 2/3 cup light brown sugar and the contents of a vanilla bean per can of sweetened condensed milk and bring to medium heat. Alternatively, add 2/3 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of milk and 2 cups of demerara sugar per can of sweetened condensed milk. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, and then increase heat to bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Maintain for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly
A Sweet Test
Pour ice-cold water into a glass or bowl and have it nearby to test whether the fudge is ready. Drop a small amount of the caramel fudge into the water. The fudge will drop to the bottom of the bowl and form a round ball when it is ready. Alternatively, use a candy thermometer to test for doneness; when the fudge mixture registers in the 236 to 244 degree Fahrenheit range, it’s ready.
The "Beat" Stage
Remove the fudge from heat and let cool slightly. Vigorously beat the fudge with a wooden spoon until it begins to thicken and firm up a little, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Pour into a parchment lined or greased baking dish and let cool for 2 to 3 hours before cutting and serving.
Fantastic Fudgy Variations
Sea salt adds a hint of savoriness to super sweet caramel; add a few dashes during the beating stage or sprinkle on top as it cools. Mix in cashews, pecans, walnuts or macadamia nuts to provide a crunchy contrast to silky smooth caramel fudge. Add a spoonful of a libation such as rum or bourbon to add complexity. Top with sprinkles, freeze-dried fruit or a layer of milk chocolate for a bite punctuated with a pop of color and flavor.
References and ResourcesJamieOliver.com: Creamy Sea-Salted Fudge: The Perfect Gift
Carnation.com: Ultimate Fudge
McCormick.com: Caramel Pecan Fudge Recipe
ThePioneerWoman.com: Easy Peppermint Fudge