The Features

Fudging It

Keep your chocolate-covered pickles, bacon milkshakes, and hot-dog-stuffed pizza crusts—fudge is the original extreme food.

From the Winter, 2019–2020, issue 

(No. 44)

Brian Francis

I’m pretty sick of all these extreme foods that keep getting rammed down my throat. Chocolate-covered pickles? Bacon milkshakes? Hot-dog-stuffed pizza crust? What the heck is going on these days? The simple fact of the matter is extreme foods are nothing new. Just open up any coil-bound community cookbook from the nineteen-seventies or eighties for evidence—that evidence being fudge.

Now look, I know fudge may not seem all that extreme, but consider the fudge facts. What other food calls for three cups of sugar, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and Marshmallow Fluff? Plainly put, fudge is the black hole of sweet. It’s impossible to pack more sugar into a single square-inch cube. Believe me, I’ve tried. In fact, it’s long been rumoured by historians that fudge was invented by a dentist in need of patients. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s a good reminder to brush your teeth after indulging in a piece. Or two.

Speaking of indulging, here are three recipes for fudge that take decidedly different, but equally tasty, turns into that sweet darkness. The recipes for Sour Cream Fudge, Creamy Fantasy Fudge, and Jingle Bell Fudge (which, in spite of its name, can be eaten any ol’ time of year) come from my collection of trusted cookbooks from simpler times, when calories were laughed at and everyone owned harvest-gold-coloured appliances.

A word of caution: While fudge may seem easy to make, it can be a bit tricky in terms of temperature. For Sour Cream Fudge, the sugar mixture has to hit the soft-ball stage. So pay close attention. Lucky for me, I’m an expert at spotting soft balls.

Sour Cream Fudge
(From Runnymede United Church Women’s Centennial Plus One Cook Book)
Ingredients
3 cups brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts

Directions
1. Combine sugar and sour cream. Heat on stove until mixture reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit or to a soft-ball stage.

2. Remove from heat. Add salt and butter.

3. Beat until mixture begins to grain. Stir in vanilla and nuts.

4. Pour into buttered eight-inch-square pan and allow to cool.

Creamy Fantasy Fudge
(From Royal Canadian Legion Ladies Auxiliary Branch 133’s Cooking Favorites of Cobourg)
Ingredients
3 cups white sugar
¾ cup butter
¾ cup evaporated milk
1 300-gram package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 7.5-ounce jar Marshmallow Fluff
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
1. Combine sugar, butter, and evaporated milk. Heat on stove until mixture reaches a rolling boil.

2. Boil for five minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.

3. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted. Add Marshmallow Fluff, nuts, and vanilla.

4. Beat until well blended. Pour into buttered eight-inch-square pan and allow to cool.

Jingle Bell Fudge
(From The Best of Enbridge)
Ingredients
1 300-gram package butterscotch chips
½ cup chunky-style peanut butter
⅔ cup sweetened condensed milk
½ cup chopped nuts

Directions
1. Combine butterscotch chips and peanut butter in the top of a double boiler. Place over simmering water until butterscotch chips melt.

2. Remove from water and stir until blended.

3. Add sweetened condensed milk and stir until blended.

4. Pour into buttered eight-inch-square pan. Press nuts into surface. Chill until firm.

Three fudge recipes, three different ways to get a sugar high.

But I was curious: Which one of these fudges reigned supreme? So I packed up all seventeen pounds of it and hauled everything into work for a taste test. For once, I was a pretty popular guy in the office. Some people were fans of Sour Cream Fudge’s tang, while others preferred the chocolate density of Creamy Fantasy Fudge. Sadly, Jingle Bell Fudge was judged out of tune and paled in comparison to its competitors.

Ultimately, Creamy Fantasy walked away the winner. Tasters commented on its smooth and velvety texture. (Hi, Marshmallow Fluff!) Then again, it’s hard to go wrong with a name like Creamy Fantasy Fudge. You could put “creamy fantasy” in front of Brussels sprouts and people would line up around the block.

Whatever recipe you make, just remember to never miss an opportunity to go fudge yourself.

Brian Francis is the author of two novels. His most recent, Natural Order, was selected by the Toronto Star, Kobo and the Georgia Straight as a best book of the year. His first novel, Fruit, was a Canada Reads finalist and named one of CBC's one hundred novels that make You proud to be a Canadian. He writes a monthly advice column for Quill and Quire, and is a regular columnist for CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter. Last updated summer, 2018.
Previous in this issue
Next in this issue