I have to start this post by admitting that fudge is my major cooking kryptonite. Despite having great success with other homemade candies, including caramels and divinity, I have never succeeded in making “real” fudge. By real fudge, I mean the kind requiring a candy thermometer and precise boiling times. All of my attempts at “real” fudge have ended with a pan of grainy, chocolate sludge that had to be thrown out. Since I HATE throwing out ingredients (especially expensive ones like chocolate) I have given up on real fudge. Instead, I rely on my Grandma’s favorite fudge recipe, a.k.a. the one found on the back of the Jet-Puffed Marshmallow creme jar. This fudge is so easy to prepare, turns out perfectly every time and has the wonderful, dense, slightly crumbly texture that I adore. So, for this fudge comparison, I made a pan of Fantasy Fudge made with marshmallow creme and compared it to store bought, walnut-studded fudge that I found in the bakery aisle at Safeway. I made the homemade fudge without nuts because I thought it would be easier to compare, but then could only find fudge with nuts at the grocery store. However, I think the comparison was still fair and there was definitely a clear winner! But first, I’m including a slightly modified version of the original Fantasy Fudge recipe below, but this link will take you right to the original.
Makes about 5 dozen small squares of fudge
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), plus extra for greasing the pan
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk)
1 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 7-ounce jar Marshmallow Creme
Optional: 1 cup chopped Walnuts
1. Lightly butter a 9-inch square baking pan. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar, butter and evaporated milk to a full boil, stirring constantly. Turn heat down to medium-low and continue to boil, stirring, for 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
2. Immediately add the chocolate chips and marshmallow creme to the pan and stir until the chocolate and creme have melted into the mixture and everything is well-combined. Stir in the walnuts, if desired.
3. Pour the fudge into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with damp fingers. Refrigerate for 2 hours to harden then cut into 1-inch squares with a very sharp knife.
When I first cut into the store bought fudge, I thought that it might have a chance of beating out the homemade fudge because it cut so easily into dark, smooth, fudgy squares. But then we tasted it. The nice, smooth appearance of the store bought fudge belied its true nature. Where the homemade Fantasy Fudge was fudgy and dense, tasters described the store bought fudge as “gummy”, “waxy” and “chewy”. Where the homemade fudge tasted rich and chocolatey, we found the store bought fudge slightly bitter with an unpleasant aftertaste. Even the addition of walnuts could not save the flavor of the store bought fudge.
Homemade fudge was the clear winner in this taste comparison, but how do they compare in price? Fortunately, the homemade fudge wins out here as well! While the store bought fudge cost $6.99 for a small 4 by 5 inch tray, the entire 9 by 9 inch pan of homemade fudge only cost $4.99. However, if I had used walnuts in my fudge recipe, the cost would rise by about $2. Still, that means that you get almost twice the fudge for your money! Of course, homemade fudge does require a bit of extra preparation time, but Fantasy Fudge is really the easiest, most error-proof recipe ever and takes only about 10 minutes of active cooking time.
Bottom Line: Homemade fudge is cheaper and far tastier than the fudge found at the grocery store. Perhaps fudge found at a specialty chocolate store would taste better, but even the grocery store fudge cost twice as much as homemade. I guarantee that the Fantasy Fudge recipe above will turn out perfect, decadent fudge with very little effort and low cost. Try it out and let me know what you think!
Happy Holidays to all my readers and I hope all of you have a delicious New Year!