Festive, Easy Fudge!
Originally published December 7, 2015, 2009, Updated on 10/9/20
A few years ago, I posted the instructions for how I make Candied Orange Slices, inspired by a Canadian Living recipe for a unique chocolate bark. (Which is unfortunately no longer on their website 🙁 )
I used my orange slices to make their bark, and it was fantastic, but....
I'm not a bark person, for the most part. I'm not really big on chocolate in general, and when I am, I prefer it not to be hard. Chocolate sauce on ice cream, fondue, fudge. It's a texture/sensory issue, for me.
So, I decided that I would take the same ingredients that intrigued me about their recipe, and incorporate it into my basic recipe for quick fudge. I've always liked dried cranberries in it - hell, it had been over 5 years since I posted my Easy Blood Orange Cranberry Dark Chocolate Fudge recipe, at that point!
... and it worked SO well. The semi sweet chocolate contrasts well with the sweetness from the candied orange and ginger, the crunch of the nuts contrast well with the chew of those two items and the cranberries.
The bright flavour of the orange and heat of the ginger pops through in various proportions, with every bite of fudge tasting different from the last.
Also: it's pretty! The yellow ginger, orange slices, green pistachios and red cranberries make this a very festive fudge - great to serve or GIVE for the holidays!
Traditional vs Easy Fudge
There are two wildly different basic types of fudge out there. Not only are the end results different, but the ingredients AND techniques are.
In traditional fudge - like my Blood Orange Cranberry Traditional Fudge - sugar, milk, butter, and other ingredients are boiled together.
A candy thermometer is set up in the pot and watched until the mixture reaches the “Soft Ball Stage” - around 238 degrees. The actual degree to watch for may vary between recipes - “Soft Ball Stage” is a range of temperatures.
The mixture is allowed to cool for a bit, then beat by hand. The beating crystallizes the sugars in the mixture, and then smooths out those crystals. I
It can take a bit of practice to get the beating part right - if you don’t beat long enough, your fudge won’t be smooth. If you beat too long, it can be crumbly.
Easy fudge is a WHOLE lot quicker and easier, and doesn’t involve much physical labour at all!
You simply melt some chocolate with some sweetened condensed milk, add whatever you want, and then pour it in a pan and let it cool. Aside from the cooling time, the whole thing takes about 5 minutes to do.
It’s also pretty foolproof - as long as you don’t burn the chocolate or add anything weird/gritty to it, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have perfect, creamy fudge once it’s set!
Festive Easy Fudge Ingredients
This Festive Easy Fudge is a bit more involved than most of my “easy” fudge recipes, in that there are some specialty ingredients involved, and some of those are things that you may want to make yourself.
A few notes on ingredients:
Candied - or “crystallized” - ginger can be purchased (Candied Ginger on Amazon) or made.
All you need to make candied ginger is fresh ginger root, sugar, and water. Super easy, and - if you do it my way - it’s super efficient.
The way I do it is one process, but yields 3 products - Candied Ginger, Ginger Syrup, and Ginger Sugar. Click that link to go to the post!
Candied Orange Slices
Candied Orange slices CAN be purchased, but they’re definitely not as readily available as candied ginger. Trader Joe’s sells a Sweetened Dried Orange Slices product, which isn’t QUITE the same, but is close enough for the purposes of this Festive Easy Fudge.
Homemade Candied Orange Slices can easily be made at home, though, and follows a similar process to the candied ginger.
Candied orange slices are great to snack on, and make really pretty garnishes for sweets trays, cocktails, and more... so don’t worry about being “stuck” with more than you need for this recipe!
Generally speaking, I use unflavoured sweetened dried cranberries for this recipe, but the orange or cherry flavoured types work, too!
The most straightforward ingredient of the list!
If you’re using pistachios that came in their shells, remove all the shells before measuring.
Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
I like to use a nicer brand of chocolate chips for this, but you can use any semi-sweet chocolate chip brand that you like.
The big caveat is that it has to be semi-sweet, as other types - milk, dark, white - will not swap out 1:1 in this recipe.
As is the case with truffle making, the various types of chocolate all have different needs/tolerances when it comes to the amount of liquid added.
Swapping out the type of chocolate without changing the amount of sweetened condensed milk can lead to a fudge that is either way too firm (Dark chocolate) or may not even set up at all (White chocolate)
More Holiday Treats
Looking for more inspiration for your holiday goodies tray? Whether Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or any of the other holidays, here are a few ideas for you!
Blood Orange Cranberry Toffee
Boozy Chocolate Haystack Cookies
Candied Orange Slices
Creme de Menthe Nanaimo Bars
Gluten-Free Fruitcake Cookies
Pecan Pie Cookies
Sweet Ecstasy Cookies
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Now, on to that Festive Easy Fudge recipe!