Fudge is a type of Western confectionery which is usually very sweet, extremely rich and frequently flavored with cocoa. It is made by mixing sugar, butter, and milk and heating it to the soft-ball stage at 240 °F (116 °C), and then beating the mixture while it cools so that it acquires a smooth, creamy consistency. Chocolate can also be mixed in to make chocolate fudge; many other flavors and ingredients are possible.
The components of fudge are very similar to the traditional recipe for tablet, which is noted in The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie (1692-1733). The term “fudge” is often used in the United Kingdom for a softer variant of the tablet recipe.
American-style fudge (containing chocolate) is found in a letter written by Emelyn Battersby Hartridge, a student at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. She wrote that her schoolmate’s cousin made fudge in Baltimore, Maryland in 1886 and sold it for 40 cents a pound. Hartridge obtained the fudge recipe, and in 1888, made 30 lb (14 kg) of fudge for the Vassar College Senior Auction. This Vassar fudge recipe became quite popular at the school for years to come.
Word of this popular confection spread to other women’s colleges. For example, Wellesley and Smith have their own versions of a fudge recipe dating from the late 19th or early 20th century.