Grandma’s Fudge – A Tradition Revived

Fudge Recipe

“Bah humbug” was Grandma’s take on Christmas.   Every December we would receive a letter with that declaration,  however those letters would also have a companion.  A simple tin filled with individually wrapped pieces of homemade fudge.  A fudge that was smooth and tasty, and has forever left me unsatisfied with any that I’ve purchased.

Years back I found a typed 3×5 card with Grandma’s fudge recipe on it.  “Oh, the joy!” I thought.  “Now I can make Grandma’s fudge for myself.”  But the cooking Gods deemed me undeserving and I was never able to successfully recreate Grandma’s fudge.

Years passed, and Diane and I tried to create our own culinary gift traditions.  Peppermint bark, rum balls, and other holiday sweets. But nothing ever stuck. We would fall back to the ordinary, mundane, and commercial habits of searching for gifts the recipients may not really want, or going even more generic with the gift of gift-cards or cash.


However this year, change is wafting over the land and we are starting to perceive many things around us differently. All but one of Diane’s siblings wanted no part of gift giving.  “Just gifts for the young ones and the one sibling who wants to give everyone else a gift. Nothing for me thanks.”  We no longer felt the urge to get something for everyone from our trash guy, to the mailman, to the neighbors’ kids, or even for our friends.

It isn’t that we aren’t grateful for all of the ways these people enrich our lives, but all of this intent on showing gratitude on one day has the feeling of going on a diet.  It helps appease the short term guilt, but it really does nothing for life in the long term.  We feel we should always we aware of being compassionate and giving, not just during the holiday season. Plus, the aroma of commercialism taints the beauty of giving this time of year.

Gradually, Grandma’s “Bah humbugs” began to make more sense.  She was a kind and considerate soul, and there was always a bit of a glimmer in her eyes when she would voice her disregard of the Christmas holiday.  However, there was also a seriousness behind her statements.  She wanted to distance herself from the commercialism and “obligations” to be nice and giving during the “Holiday Season.”   By “bah humbugging” she was freeing her friends and family from the obligation of getting her anything as well as letting those around her know that she wouldn’t be participating in any needless gratuity.

Maybe it is because we have come to this full realization, or maybe we have just progressed as cooks, but when we attempted Grandma’s fudge recipe on Christmas day this year, the first attempt was good, and the second was prefect.  We nailed the “Bah Humbug Fudge.” As soon as I tasted the second batch, a spark ignited within me and I knew that Grandma’s tradition of only giving fudge for Christmas was reborn.  Nothing monetary based shall be dished out again, we are now in the “Bah Humbug Club.”

We have no wants other than friendship and love, and that will also be the only thing we will be giving.  Love in the form of fudge.  Bah humbug, everyone.


Step by Step Recipe Gallery

5 from 1 vote
Grandma's Fudge Recipe
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins

Grandma's fudge was always one of the best fudges I'd ever tasted.  After many failed attempts over the years, I've finally deciphered Grandma's bare-bones written recipe.  This fudge recipe comes out smooth, not overly sweet, and luscious. It was her offering in lieu of presents during the holiday season, a tradition which is now being reborn with us. I've written out the instructions the same as Grandma had, then in italics have given a more detailed breakdown. A little twist we always do is to soak the dried fruit in a favorite spirit - dark rum, Kahlua, brandy, bourbon... We'll begin soaking before starting to cook the fudge, then drain it just before stirring in. Enjoy.

  • 3 cups (600g) Sugar
  • 12 oz (354 ml) can Evaporated Milk
  • 1/2 cup (one stick or 113g) unsalted Butter
  • 12 oz (340g) Dark Chocolate bits
  • 1/2 pound (225g) Marshmallow (@32 regular size)
  • 4-6 oz (about 1 cup or 115-170 g) walnut halves
  • (Optional) 6 oz (about 1 cup or 170 g) Raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, or whatever dried fruit you like
  • (Optional) @ 1/2 cup (120 ml) Dark Rum, Kahlua, Brandy, or whatever alcohol pairs well with your dried fruit
  1. Combine sugar, milk, and butter. Cook to soft ball stage stirring constantly. (Bring everything to a simmer then lower the heat to medium or on med-low.  It should bubble well without getting crazy.  Stir regularly, and especially more frequently as the mix thickens.  After each stir session, wipe the sides of the pan with a brush and water so it stays clean and prevents big sugar crystals (source of grainy fudge.) It usually takes about 30 minutes to reach the soft ball stage or 235° F, depending on how strong you cook the sugar mixture.  Soft ball stage is where if you drop some of the mix into a bowl of cold water, you are able to make a "soft ball" when it cools a bit and you take it out of the water. If you like your fudge softer, take it off the heat a bit earlier.
  2. (Optional) While candy cooks, combine dried fruit and alcohol in a bowl and macerate for at least 30 min.
  3. Line an 8"x11" (or 9"x9") baking dish with aluminum foil or wax paper. Set aside.
  4. Remove from heat, and then stir in marshmallows (it is usually easier to add the marshmallows in to batches, stirring until the first set is melted then stir in the second set). After the marshmallows are fully melted, stir in the chocolate. Stir until blended.
  5. Add walnuts. (Optional - Drain macerated fruit and add.) Stir until combined.
  6. Pour into prepared dish. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, or until you can touch the fudge without it sticking to your hand, then pat down the fudge into an even layer.  Leave untouched until completely cool (about 2 hours) then cut into bit sized pieces.  Keep chunks of fudge airtight or wrap with plastic wrap and give to friends, loved ones, and save a secret stash for yourself to eat.
{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. tish carruthers

    This was just too decadent – we shared it here:

  2. Esther

    I finally got around to purchasing a candy thermometer so I could attempt to make fudge this year. I was most interested in finding the old fashioned way to make fudge.
    I found your webpage and let me tell you, I made your Grandma’s fudge this morning and followed your instructions to the “T” and it turned out heavenly. I guess it is kind of like Millionaires Fudge? Not too sweet or anything but PERFECT !!! Love It !! Love It !! Love It !! This one is a keeper. Gonna share some with hubby and some co-workers…

  3. Valerie

    I was looking for a fruit and nut fudge recipe and found your website. I tried the recipe last night and though it took awhile to cook, it is fabulous. Your website is bookmarked and I plan to share it with others. Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes.
    This year we have a completely home made Christmas. All gifts are home made (baked, sewed, painted, etc. Name a fabric or material and it was more than likely used). I want to get back to what really counts and that can’t be purchased at a store!
    Happy Holidays

  4. Tammy Blankenship

    Love the blog, found it looking for a fudge recipe. I must admit it was a success the first try and made me a hero with a lot of people.

  5. Cakelaw

    OMG – I’ve died and gone to heaven! This looks amazing!!!

  6. Jonathan Looi

    speechless, you all had try so hard to capture every single steps just to share with us the recipe. you guys are awesome.

    Love you site and your photo is great. Thanks so much.

  7. Mike

    I cannot wait to try this. Thanks so much!

  8. Hélène

    This looks so delish! I love those recipes.

  9. tiffany @ the garden apartment

    The name “Bah Humbug Fudge” is great, and grandma (and her fudge) sound wonderful!

  10. betty

    wow!! the last part of the pic looks good enuf to eat….im gonna be makin these today…….and the recipe is easy 2…….

  11. sra

    Loved reading this post.

    I’ve been thinking of trying some fudge out myself – tho’ I may not get the marshmallows here.

  12. Megan

    Those photos are amazing! I made my first-ever batch of fudge over the holidays and it was a big hit. I think next time I’m going to have to try this recipe, it just looks too good!!

  13. Foodista

    That really looks delicious, and I share your sentiments about the holidays as well. I’d like to invite you to take some time to drop by at Foodista and share your delicious recipe with us. We have launched an online food and cooking encyclopedia ala wikipedia. Add a recipe and you can win a $100 gift card to Sur la table. Don’t forget to register first so we know who to thank the recipe for. Thanks!

  14. giz

    This is really much more than just fudge – it’s history with alot of love kicking it up mega notches. How special that you’re sharing it.

  15. Anne @ Pink Galoshes

    Great post with the most amazing looking fudge. Truly delicious!

  16. Shari

    I’ve never made fudge, but this looks fabulous! Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

  17. Marc @ NoRecipes

    Wow that looks great and what a fantastic story behind it! I like the idea of adding marshmallows, I bet it aerates the fudge a bit.

  18. toontz

    For years when I was little the biggest highlight of holiday treats was “Cousin Elizabeth’s Fudge”. She has been gone for many years now…what I wouldn’t give to have that recipe in my hands. What a wonderful memory she has given you (and now us!)

  19. Chez Us

    I WANT a big bite of that now!!!! It really isn’t Christmas without Fudge is it? This was the first holiday season that I did not make my grandmother’s fudge nor my other grandmother’s toffee recipe, maybe that is why it did not feel like Christmas this year! Thank you for sharing this nice little story with us and the wonderful photos of chocolate gooey fun!

  20. Nate

    What a great, beautiful gift that your grandmother has given all of us! Thanks for doing it.

  21. Jan

    A great post and lovely looking fudge!

  22. noobcook

    Beautiful post, both words and photos =)

  23. Dani

    Mmm, drunken fruit in the fudge… cranberries or cherries. Never occurred to me! But am glad to hear you weren’t in a big gift mode this year, ’cause I’m still working on yours. Hehe. Soon, though, soon. For all the pleasure this blog and your friendship brings. Watch for an email from me.


  24. Food Woolf

    I must note that, having tried this fudge recipe, it IS the best homemade fudge I’ve ever had. I’ll even go so far as to say the BEST fudge I’ve ever tasted. There’s no gritty sugar, or overly sweet element in this tasty dessert. Just well balanced sugar and texture in every perfect, individually wrapped piece. Thank you for sharing the family recipe! I may just have to bah-humbug a batch next year!

  25. leena!

    Wow, if I wasn’t already overdosed on sweets from the holidays, I would make this in an instant. I will have to file it away for my when sweet tooth hits again. I’m with you on the bah humbug club. I just prefer giving away homemade food, because it is more fun to make than to buy. This year I gave away home canned goods (cinnamon vanilla bean applesauce, some apple butter, a few pickles and some chipotle corn relish).

  26. mikky

    yum… yum… i made a “short cut” choco mousse using marshmallows too… got it from nigella… 🙂 happy new year to both of you!!!

  27. grace

    butter? check.
    chocolate? check.
    sweetness? check check.
    clearly, this is a winning recipe and something i could use to effortlessly expand myself. 🙂

  28. Abigail

    Oh my. Cranberries and chocolate together (plus alcohol!) rock my socks, big time. I made an inebriated cranberry sauce to go over some cheesecake for Christmas, and we ate all the leftover sauce over chocolate ice cream. I just couldn’t get enough of the stuff. And cranberry fudge? I think kings would give half their kingdoms for this. I really do.

  29. Abby

    HOLY MOLY – dried fruit and marshmallows. I made my dad home made fudge as his Christmas present, he just likes walnuts. But I am a marshmallow whore, so this sounds perfect.

  30. desiree@lookiloos

    I think all grandma’s must make fudge. My grandma made wonderful fudge, but she liked hers with nothing it in…just chocolate! I would love to try yours. It looks heavenly with the nuts and fruit. She also made divinity. I have her recipe, but haven’t tried to make it yet…one day…I will.

  31. Kevin

    That fudge looks good. I like all of the things in it.

  32. sharon

    I’d take Grandma’s fudge over an ugly sweater any day! 🙂 Its nice not to get stressed about holiday shopping and whatnot since that just takes away from the reason for the holidays!

  33. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Bah humbug to you both — what a lovely post! Thanks for sharing your memories, and this luscious fudge recipe. I’m bookmarking.

  34. evil chef mom

    first of all beautiful pictures… i really like the first one of todd in b&w… everytime you write about your grandma, the more i want know of her… she sounds like a real fircracker! love in the form of fudge is wonderful… so bah humbug to you too!

  35. Rachelle

    Aren’t family recipes the best! Every year I make my mom’s (Grandma’s) rocky road, and this is the first year ever it didn’t set through. Beautiful photos, love the marshmallows being stirred in, mmm.

  36. Ivy

    I’ve never made a fudge before but I am sure this is something I would love.

  37. Scott at Realepicurean

    Looks delicious. I love all your “in progress” photos!

  38. Rita

    I am not big on fudges, but I loved the pics! It is so nice to find old family recipes, no?

  39. Madam Chow

    I love homemade gifts – this year I made 12 fruitcakes. This fudge recipe looks delicious, and your photos are wonderful.

  40. alexandra's kitchen

    homemade gifts, in my opinion, are the best, especially if they are edible and involve chocolate. this fudge sounds heavenly. I appreciate the pictures of the soft ball caramel stage, too — that will be very helpful when i get around to making these. Happy New Year!

  41. Manggy

    Oh, lookit that last pic! It’s a luscious igneous chocolate formation. I love it 🙂 I totally hear ya on the commercialism eating up the holidays– and in the end, as shops and shoppers get more desperate to put whatever under the tree, the gifts suffer (in quality) and so does the sentiment. So, not *totally* a bah humbug for me, but I will indulge in your grandma’s fudge anytime! 🙂

  42. Jamie

    Wow and double wow! I live with a Bah Humbug to the Holidays kind of guy, so just maybe this fudge would give him a little holiday spirit! If not, I can just eat all of it.

  43. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary

    A recipe after my own little chocolate heart.

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