Fudge, the all-American treat traditionally made with chocolate, sugar, cream and butter, can be a hassle to make. All the ingredients are carefully cooked to an ideal temperature and then beaten as they cool to create the creamy confection. Not everyone has the time or culinary chops to make fudge the old-fashioned way. Quick methods of making fudge yield a treat that’s just as tasty, and takes only a fraction of the time and effort.

10-Minute Fudge

A 10-minute version of fudge requires a hand mixer but uses minimal ingredients, as well as a microwave and just a single bowl, so that making the confection becomes quick and easy. For every stick of butter you use, add about 1/4 cup of half and half, 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 3 cups of powdered sugar. Melt the butter, half and half and chocolate in a microwave for just a minute or two, until creamy and smooth — stop the cooking every 30 to 60 seconds and stir to ensure you don’t burn the chips. Beat the powdered sugar in with a hand mixer until the mixture is thick, and then spread it into a lined or greased pan. Refrigerate for an hour or two — until the fudge is cool and stiff enough to cut into squares.

5-Minute Fudge

Sweetened, condensed milk and a microwave are shortcuts that yield a creamy, quick fudge in just five minutes’ time. For every 3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips, use 1 can of condensed milk. Add a bit of salt and zap in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes; stir and heat another 1 1/2 minutes or until the chocolate is melted. Stir in a little vanilla extract; optionally include nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, for crunch. Spread the mixture in a parchment-paper lined pan and refrigerate until firm, approximately two hours. The condensed milk is already smooth and silky, so you don’t need to worry about bringing a sugar-based mixture up to a specific temperature and then beating it as it cools to create a creamy candy.

Trimming Time Off Traditional Fudge Making

Speed up the process of making traditional fudge by using cocoa powder, instead of melting chocolate. You stir together sugar, cocoa powder and salt with whole milk in a saucepan; for every 1 cup of milk, use 2 cups white sugar and 1/4 cup of cocoa powder. Bring the mixture to a boil over low heat, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t scorch at the bottom of the pan.

After about 10 minutes, use a candy thermometer and check for soft-ball stage — or 235 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in a few tablespoons of butter and vanilla. Place the pot in an ice bath to speed up the cooling process and beat it with a wooden spoon to encourage a smooth, thick texture. Spread the mix into a greased pan and allow to cool for 30 minutes or longer at room temperature.

Taste Considerations

Quick fudge made with condensed milk or powdered sugar may taste even sweeter than traditional versions. You may cut the sweetness by using dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet varieties. Purists may notice the texture of these fast versions are a bit more grainy than traditional paddled fudge.