How to Make Old Fashioned Creamy Cocoa Fudge | Fundamental Friday

There is nothing like old fashioned creamy cocoa fudge, made by hand in your own kitchen. It's not hard to make, but there are some rules you have to follow. Come see me for the recipe and for a free downloadable Stages of Sugar Chart! | pastrychefonline.comPastry Chef Online Welcome

I Hear You Want to Learn to Make Old-Fashioned Creamy Cocoa Fudge

I am here to help you, because just the thought of making fudge can scare folks. And what's scarier than a fudge recipe? A random list of old fashioned creamy cocoa fudge ingredients with no instructions on how to make it. That's what.

Successful candy making requires that sugar be cooked to precise temperatures so the finished candy is the correct texture. What are you supposed to do if there aren't any instructions?!

Click here and I'll
send you my
Stages of Sugar Chart

This is what happened to reader Carol. Her grandmother used to make Old Fashioned Creamy Cocoa Fudge every year, but she never taught the kids how she made it, and now that she's gone, they were left fudge-less. Carol did find the list of what she hoped were the ingredients for creamy cocoa fudge, but that was all she found. No rules. Just ingredients.

She sent me this message:

I ran across a list of ingredients for my Granny's Fudge but no instructions. She is no longer with us, so I can't ask her about it. I remember watching her when I was little, but she wouldn't let me get too close for fear of me getting burned. She used to "tweak" it to make white fudge and peanut butter fudge.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 Tablespoon Karo
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • Chopped pecans

Thanks so much and belated Merry Christmas!


I set to work just a few days ago, and I have to tell you:

my first attempt did not go well at all.


  1. Because I'm impatient and like to do everything at lightning speed and

  2. I decided that Granny probably used evaporated milk. Evaporated milk has a lot of the water evaporated out of it, so there are more milk solids and it's more likely to scorch. So between going full speed on high heat and using evaporated milk, I ended up with scorched fudge. The Beloved said he couldn't taste it, but I could. And the 1/8" of black burned milk solids on the bottom of my pan was a testament to my need for speed.

For round two, I slowed down to medium speed (and heat) and also used whole milk.

What did I end up with?

Old Fashioned Creamy Cocoa Fudge Perfection!


There is nothing like old fashioned creamy cocoa fudge, made by hand in your own kitchen. It's not hard to make, but there are some rules you have to follow. Come see me for the recipe and for a free downloadable Stages of Sugar Chart! |

Rules to Remember to Make Old Fashioned Creamy Cocoa Fudge (or Any Kind of Fudge)

  • Making fudge is all about concentrating the sugar so that when it sets up again as crystals, they feel smooth and creamy in your mouth and not grainy.

  • Cooking fudge to too high a temperature causes it to set up really hard.

  • Cooking fudge to too low a temperature causes it to be too soft or even runny like sauce (which isn't bad. It's just not what we're going for).

  • Stirring fudge is the key to making and controlling how the crystals set up. But if you stir too soon, or too late, you'll end up with grainy fudge. Think of it the same way churning ice cream while it's freezing ensures tiny ice crystals and smooth, creamy ice cream. This is the same principle.

  • You really need a chart, a cheat sheet, to help you remember the stages of sugar. Like this one here!

Downloadable Stages of Sugar Chart

Click here and I'll
send you my
Stages of Sugar Chart

There is nothing like old fashioned creamy cocoa fudge, made by hand in your own kitchen. It's not hard to make, but there are some rules you have to follow. Come see me for the recipe and for a free downloadable Stages of Sugar Chart! |

Remember These Two Temperatures, and You Can't Go Wrong:

234F (238F if you're making chocolate fudge and not cocoa fudge)


Click Here and I'll
send you my
Stages of Sugar Chart

Here's how it goes, using Carol's grandma's list of ingredients and Proper Fudge-Making Procedures. And not rushing.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Old Fashioned Creamy Cocoa Fudge
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: about 40 pieces
Old Fashioned Creamy Cocoa Fudge will make you very happy, but only if you make it correctly. Pay close attention to the instructions, because they are universal to pretty much all fudge making.
What You Need
  • 2 cups sugar (14 oz)
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon cocoa* (See Notes)
  • 1 Tablespoon corn syrup (light or dark. Any liquid sugar will work here such as maple syrup, honey or molasses)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (my addition. Rounds out the flavors and keeps the fudge from seeming too sweet)
  • 1 cup whole milk (8 oz)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup toasted pecan halves or pieces (use whatever nut you prefer or leave them out altogether)
What To Do
To Make Fudge
  1. Line an 8"x8" pan** (See Notes) with parchment or non-stick foil with a piece that is long enough to line the bottom and come up and over two opposite sides of the pan. (use these as "handles" to get the cooled fudge out of the pan). Spray with pan spray. You can also spray or butter the pan well, but using parchment or non-stick foil will make it easier to get the fudge out of the pan.
  2. Place the sugar, cocoa powder, corn syrup, salt and milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan that is much larger than you think you need. 3 quart size will work just fine.
  3. Stir well, and cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. You can stir it and scrape the sides of the pan until it starts to boil.
  4. Allow the mixture to boil until it reaches 234F. This is just under the soft ball stage, but this is the correct temperature for making cocoa fudge. (If you're making chocolate fudge, cook to 238F, which is the soft ball stage.)
  5. Move the pan off the burner and drop in the butter and the vanilla. Don't stir them in (if you stir too soon, you'll end up with grainy fudge).
  6. Let the mixture cool to 110F. The pan will feel warm but by no means hot. If you're using a "leave-in" candy thermometer, there will be no question. If you don't have one, occasionally check the temperature with your instant read thermometer (that's what I do).
  7. Once the candy has cooled to the correct temperature, begin stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. You can also scoop up a bunch of the warm candy and let it pour back into the pot. This will make you feel fancy, and it will help to bring the temperature of the candy down more quickly. Keep stirring and stirring until the candy is just starting to lose its gloss and thicken up.
  8. Dump in the pecans if using, and stir them in quickly.
  9. Scrape the now-quite-thick fudge into the pan and moosh it into the corners with a spatula. I sprinkled some flaky sea salt on top of mine. You can too if you want. Or not.
  10. Allow the candy to set up for at least an hour before slicing with a sharp knife.
  11. Store at room temperature in a tightly-sealed container for 3-4 days. But it will be gone before then.
Other Stuff to Know
*even though the recipe called for only 1 Tablespoon, I figured granny probably used a heaping spoonful--she may not have even used an actual measuring spoon. I used what probably amounted to 2 level Tablespoons of cocoa powder and ended up with a mild-tasting fudge. You will probably be fine to increase the amount to 4 or even 5 level Tablespoons if you want darker fudge. At that point though, you may just want to make chocolate fudge instead.

**I used a loaf pan that was 8½" x 3" across the bottom and ended up with the fudge you see in the photos. Using an 8"x 8" pan will give you a thinner candy. You can also split the difference and make it in a 9"x5" large loaf pan. Your call.

Creamy Cocoa Fudge Process Photos

There is nothing like old fashioned creamy cocoa fudge, made by hand in your own kitchen. It's not hard to make, but there are some rules you have to follow. Come see me for the recipe and for a free downloadable Stages of Sugar Chart! |

  1. Everyone in the pool except for butter and vanilla.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil. Check temperature frequently until it reaches 234F. Remove from heat.
  3. Add butter and vanilla, but don't stir them in yet.
  4. When the fudge cools to 110F, begin stirring. Stir and stir.
  5. Fudge will start to thicken up after about 5 minutes or so. Continue stirring until fudge starts to lose its gloss.
  6. Quickly stir in nuts (if using).
  7. Spread into prepared pan to set up.


Here's the downloadable recipe card, friends!

Creamy Cocoa Fudge Recipe

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Since knowing what temperature your sugar is is crucial to any candy making success, here are my recommendations for candy thermometers that stay in the pot and instant read thermometers you can use to check the temperatures every couple of minutes. I've used both, and I prefer using my instant read. It's totally up to you, though!

Thank you for taking the time to read today. And please don't forget your free gift!

Click Here and I'll
Send You my
Stages of Sugar Chart!

Take care, and have a lovely day.


  1. says

    I happened to be perusing your site some more while waiting curbside at the school to pick up a wee one… Dang Jenni, you are a posting champion! So good of you to help out Carol with this very thorough installment. I could almost sense Granny’s old-fashioned approach as you talked through the trials of interpreting the recipe. Superb work!

    • says

      I cannot tell you how honored I was that she asked me. And that I was able to do it, Brooks! It’s a lovely, creamy fudge–not super chocolatey, but delicious. I think of it as sort of a “Depression Recipe” maybe?

  2. says

    Fudge is my favorite, but I haven’t been successful at making it. Hopefully with your instructions I’ll be able to do it right for once. My taste buds thank you!

    • says

      Hi, Alissa! So glad you stopped in! If and when you do make it, please let me know how it goes! I can’t wait to hear from reader Carol about how hers turns out. So cool to be able to restore a recipe to a family. 🙂


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