Fun Fudge Facts #1
What is Fudge?
Fudge is a confection made, at its most elemental, by heating sugar, butter, and milk, to the soft-ball stage and then beating the mixture while it cools so that it acquires a smooth, creamy consistency.
Chocolate Fudge, the most popular type of fudge in the US, is made with the addition of chocolate and/or cocoa.
Why do we call this confection "fudge"?
In the late 1600's, "fudge" was a verb meaning "to clumsily fit together or adjust".
Around 1800, the word was also used to mean a hoax or cheat.
By mid-1800's, the use of the term “Oh, fudge!” as a kid-friendly expletive had come into favor, and was often used when something had been messed up.
It’s believed that the first batch of fudge was created in the mid- to late-1800's when someone was trying to make caramels and “fudged” up.
The name stuck.
The Origins of Fudge...
It seems improbable but the actual origins of this amazing confection are lost to time.
The earliest known mention of a fudge confection dates to 1921, in a letter by a former Vassar student. The letter says that while attending classes there in the late 1880's, the author sampled some dessert "fudge" made by someone from Baltimore. She also mentions a grocery store, also probably in Baltimore, where fudge was sold for 40 cents a pound.
The student apparently obtained the fudge recipe and made 30 pounds of it for the Vassar Senior Auction. The Vassar Alumnae/i Quarterly, claimed that the sweet became so popular that “students would make it in the middle of the night, dangerously diverting the gas from their lamps for the task.”
Today, you don't have to worry about making it at all (dangerously or otherwise!), just look for Black Mesa Ranch Goats Milk Fudge!
Is there really a Fudge Season?
While Fudge is great any time, it has traditionally been eaten more during the warmer months of the year.
•In the US, National Fudge Day is June 16th.
•Mackinaw Island MI (the self-proclaimed Fudge Capital of the World) hold its annual Fudge Festival in August.
•Black Mesa Ranch celebrates Fudge Season from mid-May through October when the average highs in much of Arizona reach into the 90's and higher (warm by just about any definition!)
Fun Fudge Facts #2
The Story Continues…
Fudge goes Professional
Fudge had its humble beginnings in the home kitchens of the late 1800's and despite its popularity, it took a while for it to be accepted into the professional candy maker's repertoire.
Skuse’s Complete Confectioner was THE professionals' guide for all things dessert—but the first edition of the book, published around 1890, never mentioned fudge. It wasn't until a later revision published in 1928 that "American Fudge" recipes (with variations) appeared in a new section shared with "Italian Creams".
The Guinness World Record for Fudge...
Yes, there is a world record for fudge. Unfortunately, the record is for size, not quality (or BMR's fudge would be a shoe-in!).
Never-the-less, here it is: The Guinness World Record fudge weighed 2.61 metric tonnes (about 5760-pounds) and was made by a team from Northwest Fudge Factory in Laveck, Canada in October of 2010.
That fudge represents about 10.8 million calories, if you're wondering where it might fit into your diet.
The Science of making Fudge
Have you ever made fudge, or watched someone else make it, and have it go terribly wrong? I sure have! Every once in a while, my beautiful confection would turn into either grainy chocolate rocks or a weird fudge sludge. UGH!
The issue is crystallization. Once you have a pot full of molten sugar, it wants to re-crystallize as it cools. For fudge we want tiny little "micro-crystals" and the sucrose looks for any excuse NOT to make them. A single undissolved sugar crystal from the side of the pan (or some dust or even a few tiny air bubbles!) can "seed" the sucrose into making those bigger crystals that feel grainy in your mouth. Bad Fudge!
The answer? There are really only 2 choices...
• Improved technique or
• Add "funny" ingredients like corn syrup, condensed milk, or marshmallow crème to help control the crystallization.
Worry not! Black Mesa Ranch Fudges contain NO funny ingredients! We use: cane sugar, butter, goats milk, Belgian cocoa, vanilla, salt period. (plus... nuts, spices, natural flavors, chiles etc, as applicable).
More About Fudge...
Fudge and Fondant are Kissin' Cousins!
Did you know that fudge is actually a specialized type of wet fondant?
The ingredients, cooking and cooling processes are identical to start with but once cooled, fudge is beaten until it begins to crystallize while fondant is pulled and stretched until glossy.
"Wet" fondant (different than the "dry" type the is rolled out and used in cake decorating) is used in candies like peppermint patties and cherry cordials.
Some other Fudge-Like Confections
The original fudge was just sugar, milk and butter cooked together then cooled and beat until properly crystallized and there are numerous other confections that are related like...
• American Pralines – are a combination of syrup and pecans, hazelnuts or almonds with milk or cream, resembling fudge.
• Scots tablet – Scottish confection with similar recipe.
• Penuche – a fudge-like candy made from brown sugar, butter, and milk. Nuts, especially pecans, are often added to penuche. It is largely a regional food, found in New England and the Southern United States, also called "creamy praline fudge", and "brown sugar fudge candy".
• Sharbat - a Central Asian dessert similar to fudge.
• Krówki – Polish confection similar to fudge.
• Barfi – an Indian type of fudge made from cooking milk and sugar into fudge consistency, additions include coconut, carrot, or made from nuts.
The Fudge Capital of the World is...
Mackinac Island in northern Michigan!
This tiny (4.35-square mile) Island has a population of about 500 residents but as many as 15,000 tourists visit per day during peak season.
According to the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau, there are currently 14 individual fudge shops on Mackinac (pronounced "Mack-in-aw") that, collectively produce over 10,000 pounds of fudge every day during peak season.
To make all this fudge, the candy makers say they use 10 tons of sugar each week and 10 tons of butter each year.
The most popular fudge flavor on Mackinac? "Double Chocolate".
According to local lore, Harry Ryba, known as the "Fudge King of Mackinac Island", once offered to mail out a lifetime supply of fudge (three pounds per month) for $2250. The New York Times quoted him as saying “A lifetime, being yours or mine, whichever ends sooner”. Harry passed away in 1996 at age 88.