Third time is the charm on this one. How could a recipe that you have been making since childhood mess up royally twice in a row??? Beats me, that’s for sure. But I did it, so it’s definitely possible!
My grandparents started making this fudge recipe when it was on the back of the old Hershey’s Cocoa containers – back when they were metal. It was, and still is, one of the most coveted things around my family during Christmas time because that’s when everyone generally made it. Why do we have to segregate this delicious fudge to December? I don’t know, so I’m putting a stop to that right now.
The Hershey’s container had the recipe listed for Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge, if I recall the stories correctly. I barely remember using cocoa out of a metal container when I was reeeeally small. Anyways, over the years through my grandparents, my mom’s and of course my experiments, we have made quite a lot of versions of this fudge – chocolate, chocolate coconut, chocolate walnut or event plain peanut butter with no chocolate in it just to name a few popular ones. But hands down the number one best version was chocolate peanut butter. None of the other types come even close.
Before, I said “third time is the charm”. I made a batch of this exact fudge around Christmas with almond milk (because I buy that more often than regular milk). Um, yeah, don’t do that. It came out like a shiny, crumbly candy brick that took 4 days to harden then almost broke your teeth. Yeah that was a fun experiment. So, almond milk – out.
The next time I made it was for this post. I figured I have made throughout my life about a hundred times perfectly, so what can possibly go wrong this time. Well…. I have come to the conclusion it was one of two things or more likely, both. One. Make sure you cook it to soft ball stage at 230 degrees. I think I got a bit excited and it was a few degrees off… or more than a few. Two. Use the good old creamy peanut butter you put on your kids sandwiches. I used natural peanut butter and I think there is just too much oil in it to get the fudge to set right.
So needless to say I ended up with a candy brick for the second time. It was softer almost like thick frosting though, so probably edible but I had to try again. So bear that in mind when you make this – follow the directions!! And don’t get overly excited…
Third time it came out perfect. Yay! Exactly the way I remember it. It literally melts in your mouth when you take a bite and has almost a delicate taste to it. I realize how weird “delicate” sounds when you are talking about very strong flavors like chocolate and peanut butter, but trust me, it works.
The texture might be a bit drier than you are used to in a modern day fudge recipe, but keep in mind this is old fashioned and not made with corn syrup or anything gross like that. You know the ones that require you to go for a dental check up when you are done eating them?
I am probably going to be prodded to make this more often throughout the year since it is one of Juliet’s favorite treats. The few pieces I gave her did not last to bring to school in her lunch the next day. I also brought some to the ladies at work to take the excess off my hands so I wouldn’t eat it all (because trust me I would), and now they want more.
Oh yeah, and I have two tips for you on this one. Get everything prepped and ready before you start cooking, it moves really fast at the end. In fact, a cooking buddy is a HUGE help. Thank you Bradley! Also, when I say in the recipe “large spoonfuls of peanut butter”, I mean it. Get one of those large eating spoons (no, not a serving spoon, lets not be ridiculous), and scoop as much as you can on it, until you think it can’t hold anymore… that’s one scoop.
- 3 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 large spoonfuls of creamy peanut butter
- Butter 8 or 9-inch square pan or line with parchment paper, set aside.
- In a large saucepan, stir together sugar, cocoa powder and salt until completely combined; stir in milk.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a full rolling boil. Boil the mixture, stirring only enough to keep it from sticking to your pan, until a small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water, forms a soft ball which flattens when removed from water. The temperature on a candy thermometer should have just reached 240 degrees.
- Remove from heat, continue to stir in butter, vanilla and peanut butter until completely blended. Pour into prepared pan and let cool.
- Score 1 inch cubes every 10 minutes after you start letting it cool. It will cut easier.