Homemade Fudge vs. The Scientist

You’d think someone who took two years of chemistry labs in college could make sugar crystals.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ That’s all fudge is – a special type of flavored sugar crystals.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Yet this simple task, mastered by thousands of women and bakers around the world, continues to elude me.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

I follow the protocol, I mean recipe.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ I’ve read an essay on fudge by a chemist who explains what each ingredient and step are for.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ I put in both cream of tartar and corn syrup to reduce graininess.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ I delicately wash the sugar crystals down the insides of the pan with a clean pastry brush.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ I don’t stir the mixture after it’s come to a boil.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ I use both a candy thermometer and the soft ball test to decide when to stop cooking.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ I cool it slowly, just to lukewarm, without stirring.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Then comes the dreaded instruction:Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ “Beat till fudge becomes very thick and starts to lose its gloss.”Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ This is where I start to lose my mind.

Invariably, my fudge either remains as a sticky syrup, or turns, almost instantly, from shiny goo to dull chocolate rock.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Where is that magical point where it’s thick and creamy?Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Did I beat for five seconds too long?Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Is it that sensitive?

One day, I succeeded.�¯�¿�½ The fudge gradually lost its gloss and started to thicken.�¯�¿�½ It stayed creamy.�¯�¿�½ At last, the instructions made sense.�¯�¿�½ It was delicious.�¯�¿�½ I was triumphant.�¯�¿�½ I had mastered fudge.�¯�¿�½ Brimming with confidence, I made fudge again a few months later, and . . . it turned into a dull chocolate rock.�¯�¿�½

I haven’t made fudge since.

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