This melt-in-your-mouth-delicious fantasy fudge is silky smooth, studded with sweet-salty candied walnuts and is super easy to make!
If you check The Café recipe archives you'll find lots of delicious fudge variations but I think this classic chocolate fantasy fudge with candied walnuts (an easy but gourmet twist) just might be my favorite version ever!
I mean who wouldn't love a silky smooth truffle-like fudge with crisp, toasted, sweet and salty walnuts? It's truly a fudge lover's dream come true!
The best part? It's so easy, it's almost shameful! This chocolate fantasy fudge takes less than 20 minutes, hands-on time. It will need a few hours to firm up, but if you're impatient like I am, you can employ the refrigerator to speed things up.
Why is it called "fantasy" fudge?
Fantasy fudge is a classic recipe that's been around for well over 50 years. It originally appeared on the label of Kraft Marshmallow Creme. Why do they call it fantasy fudge? Who knows? I honestly couldn't find any information on the reason for the name. It would certainly make sense though that someone at Kraft took a bite of this fabulous fudge and felt like they were in a chocolate lover's fantasy.
It seems that Kraft changed the recipe on the label at some point and there's lots of complaining about the newer version on the internet. I've never tried the revised recipe but it seems to be a consensus that the original is the best. I've always made the original recipe (with a few adaptations) so I can't tell you the difference.
Less than 20 minutes of hands-on time!
How is it made? Assemble all of the ingredients near the stove and prepare a 9x13-inch pan by lining it with foil. You'll also want to line a sheet pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 325.
To make the easy candied walnuts, simply combine the chopped walnuts, butter, honey and a pinch of salt on the prepared sheet pan. Pop the pan in the oven for a few minutes until the butter is melted and the honey loosens up. Stir the nuts until well coated with the buttery sweet sauce and bake until golden. Let these beauties cool while you're putting together the fudge.
Pull out a heavy-duty, medium-large pot and combine the specified amounts of sugar, butter and half and half (or evaporated milk) over medium heat. Stir until everything is well combined, the butter is melted and the mixture comes to a boil.
One simple little trick for no-fail fudge
Most directions for fantasy fudge, at this point, instruct you to let the mixture boil for a specified amount of time, usually 4 or 5 minutes. I've discovered, however (through trial and error), that cooking for a specified amount of time works sometimes, but other times results in the fudge turning out grainy or not setting well.
I've found that using an inexpensive candy thermometer and bringing the boiling mixture to a temperature of 234˚F. ensures consistently perfect results. That's so worth it to me, as I hate wasting good ingredients and/or planning to gift something and having it not turn out well.
When the temperature reaches 234˚F, turn off the heat and immediately add the chocolate chips. Stir until the chips are melted then finish by adding the marshmallow creme, vanilla and most of the candied walnuts, reserving a handful for a pretty topping.
All that's left to do is to transfer the luscious mixture to the foil-lined pan and wait for it to set. That might just be the hardest part of all. But I promise your patience will pay off and you'll be thrilled when you take the first amazing bite of this creamy, dreamy sweet treat!
The perfect gift!
We love gifting this delicious chocolate fantasy fudge, so I created some pretty little labels to attach to a gift box or bag. If you'd like a free printable PDF of these labels, just let us know in the comment section at the bottom of this post. We'll email you the labels with instructions on how to print them up or use them.
Try this Candied Walnut Fantasy Fudge soon! It makes a big batch, so there will be plenty to enjoy yourself and to share! But you may find that you'll learn the recipe by heart (like I have) because, once it's gone, there will be lots of requests for another batch... and another... and another...!
Cafe Tips for making this Candied Walnut Fantasy Fudge
- Use a heavy-duty metal pan and medium heat to make this fudge. I don't recommend a cast iron, enamel Dutch oven as it can conduct too much heat.
- This recipe calls for 12 ounces of chocolate chips. I really like Ghirardelli's Cacao 60% Chocolate Chips. They are more intensely chocolate than your average semi-sweet chips, however, the butter and marshmallow creme balance that out for delicious results. Beware though, as some companies have changed their bags to 10 ounces instead of 12.
- You'll need 7 ounces of marshmallow cream for this fudge. I like the Kraft brand and I like to purchase the 7-ounce jar (there's also a 13-ounce jar) as marshmallow creme can be a pain to measure. With the 7-ounce jar, you simply scoop out the entire amount.
- As mentioned above, for perfect results use a candy thermometer. A simple one without any special bells or whistles will work well, but I really like this digital thermometer. It's reasonably priced and can be set to alarm when the temperature gets near 234˚F which prevents overcooking.
- This recipe calls for half and half. For those living outside of the United States, half and half is an American convenience product that is often used for coffee. It's a combination of half milk and half cream. You can also use evaporated milk, but whole evaporated milk works better than the reduced-fat variety.
- Lining the pan with foil really helps to remove the fudge from the pan when it's set. I'm a big fan of parchment paper, but foil works much better for this as the parchment tends to tear. I like to use heavy-duty aluminum foil.
- Store at room temperature in an airtight container or ziplock bag for a week. For longer storage refrigerate (2-3 weeks) or freeze (several months).
- This fudge can also be made in a 9x9-inch pan for taller pieces.
Thought for the day:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup half and half (or evaporated milk)
- 12 ounces good-quality chocolate chips I like to use chips with 50-60% cacao
- 7 ounces marshmallow creme
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extra
Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil for easy cleanup. Spray the foil lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine the walnuts, butter, honey and salt on the prepared pan. Place in the oven for 3-4 minutes until the butter is melted. Stir well to coat the nuts with the butter/honey mixture. Return to the oven for 5 minutes then stir and bake for another 5-8 minutes or until the walnuts are a medium golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool while you make the fudge.
Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil with ends extending over the two long edges of the pan. Spray the foil lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
Combine the butter, sugar and half and half in a large, heavy-gauge saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the mixture begins to boil. Attach a candy thermometer to the edge of the pan and gently boil until the mixture reaches 234˚F. This can take anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes.
Remove pan from the heat and immediately add chocolate chips. Stir, stir, stir, until chips are mostly melted then add the marshmallow creme and vanilla. Stir until well combined then fold in 1 cup of the candied walnuts.
Transfer the fudge mixture to the prepared pan, smooth the surface, then sprinkle with remaining walnuts, pressing them in lightly. Set aside until completely cooled, 3-4 hours. You can also refrigerate the fudge at this point for quicker cooling.
When cool, pull the fudge out of the pan with the foil overhangs. With a long, sharp knife, cut into 1-inch strips. Cut each strip into 1-inch squares. I like to run my knife under hot water then dry with a paper towel between slices.
Store at room temperature for up to a week. For longer storage, refrigerate (up to 2 weeks) or freeze (several months).
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips.
You can also use a 9x9-inch pan for a taller fudge.