Mom's Caramel fudge recipe
- I usually make a huge batch, but have divided the recipe by three for you.
1 stick (4 oz) butter (if you use unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the fudge)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle or any other brand)
1/2 cup evaporated milk (could use regular milk, but evaporated milk is good)
3 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Lightly butter a small cookie sheet/jelly roll pan. I use a 17 by 11 cookie sheet for triple this recipe, which makes the fudge quite thick.
Put everything but the vanilla into a saucepan that has room for the mixture to boil up. You can either stir over medium heat until it boils (you want to dissolve the sugar before it boils) or put it over really low heat and do something else, just stirring every few minutes until it finally comes to a boil.
Cook over medium heat (or medium-low - it burns easily) until a few drops of the mixture form a medium ball* when dropped into iced water.
Most fudge recipes say don't stir, but this will catch on the bottom if you don't, so give it a stir every couple of minutes.**
Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
If you are in a rush, run some cold water into the sink and put the pan into the sink. Add the vanilla and beat well.
When the fudge starts to thicken and lose its gloss, pour into the prepared pan and smooth out as needed.
If you are not in a rush, just leave the fudge on the side of the stove and stir every few minutes.
When it starts to thicken, add the vanilla, beat it for a minute or so and pour into the prepared pan.
Allow to set (should be really quick) and cut into squares.
If you like, after it is set turn the fudge out onto a board and allow the bottom to dry out a little. This will help the pieces to hold their shape. If you are not going to package it, you don't need to bother.
The reason for not stirring too much while it cooks, but stirring mightily just before you pour it out is you want the mixture to crystalize, but not too soon, because you want a fondant-like texture - tiny, creamy sugar crystals. If you stir too much when cooking it, you will get large crystals, or in the worst case, a pan full of sugar; if you don't stir at all you will end up with undercooked toffee.
* medium ball - drop a little of the mixture (maybe 1/4 tsp) into iced water; allow to cool for about 15 seconds, then gather the mixture into a ball with your fingers. A medium ball should hold its shape nicely when it comes out of the water, but flatten when you lightly press on it.
**If it does catch a little, stir thoroughly and then keep stirring - the browner bits will be like really slightly darker caramel.
If it catches badly, stop stirring, take it off the heat and strain it into another saucepan. Do not scrape the bottom of the burned pan. Then keep cooking it in the clean pan, stirring more frequently this time.
I tend to stir with a flat spatula - much more effective than a spoon.