Fudge "Units"

I have a very vivid memory from my childhood about cooking this fudge. I don't know how young I was at the time, although I was short enough that I had to stand on a kitchen chair in order to use the stove, so clearly I was still a Little Guy. Anyway, I'm standing there on a chair in the kitchen, stirring a saucepan of fudge, while watching the wonderful world of Disney on the kitchen TV, which was on a high shelf in the corner. The lights are off, and the room is lit only by the TV, and the blue flame of the stove under the fudge. The show is a cartoon about life on other planets.

Whenever I cook this fudge, the smell of it always takes me back to that moment.

I have many other fond memories associated with this fudge. It's the family favorite fudge. My brother Rash cooked it before me and we both got the recipe from our mom. There have been phases in my life in which I'd cook a batch of this fudge every week or so, and eat it all over the course of a day or two. Ah, for the metabolism of youth!

This is the recipe used by the Imperial Chocolate company to make their famous "Units" chocolate fudge candy bars.

Stuff you need:

Combine sugar, chocolate, milk, salt and butter and bring to a boil. Boil hard for 4 minutes after it comes to a boil. Start counting as soon as the whole surface of the fudge is boiling furiously. Beat all the time. Remove from fire, add vanilla and continue beating until smooth and heavy. Pour into buttered pan to cool.

Additional Notes on Making Fudge

Wow, the actual recipe (which I copied out of my mom's recipe box decades ago) is really short! Here are some extra bits of advice, drawn from my 25+ years in the amateur fudge-making business:

  • Be sure to use a metal saucepan. I always have, and so I've never had a problem, but I've heard of others having trouble with this recipe, who traced the problem to a glass saucepan.
  • Keep a close eye on the heat. You want it on medium-high. If you've got the heat too low, the final product will be too soft, and if the heat is too high, it may boil over.
  • This fudge is officially known as Four-Minute Fudge, because of the 4 minute cooking interval. However, I've found this to be a little short... I usually let it go for 5 or even 6 minutes, until the surface bubbles start getting really big, like the boiling surface of lava in a volcano. (The official test of whether it's cooked enough is the dreaded "soft-ball" test, in which you drop a little fudge into a glass of water, to see if it forms into a sphere at the bottom... but I stopped messing about with all that when I was still a kid. If in doubt, just cook it a little longer.)
  • Stir, stir, stir! The most important step is the stirring, which introduces air bubbles into the fudge as it cools. You've got to stir, and stir constantly, until just before the fudge hardens up in the pan. Be sure to get the pan(s) you're going to pour the fudge into greased up in advance, then just keep stirring until it's on the verge of solidifying. My mom always said you've got to stir it until it "loses its shine," but I never really understood that test, and developed my own instead. It's called "Making Trees". For this test, you need to be stirring with a slotted spoon. Raise up a spoonful of fudge, and as it drips down through the slots of the spoon, watch as it hits the surface of the fudge below. If the fudge piles up like little evergreen trees, it's time to pour. If not, keep stirring.

See also

  • The Nanofic I wrote about making this fudge, entitled Fudge Warfare.

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