This easy Swirled Strawberry Fudge is melt-in-your-mouth delicious and super creamy with flecks of vanilla bean and beautiful strawberry swirls.
It's funny, there's something about the Christmas and Valentine seasons that get my imagination swirling with fudge ideas. I go all year with barely a thought about this delicious sweet confection but when these holidays roll around, I all over it. This Swirled Strawberry Fudge is the creation of my current fudge obsession.
The swirly technique for this fudge is the same as my holiday Candy Cane Swirled Fantasy Fudge. That one was so popular around Christmas that I decided something similar would be fun for Valentines Day. This time, however, I decided to go with a strawberry-flavored fudge. I was a bit perplexed, however, as to how to pull off the strawberry part. I loved the idea of strawberry fudge but knew fresh strawberries wouldn't work as they're too wet and would make the fudge gooey and perishable.
My next thought was to use a strawberry extract. I had to go on a hunt for this extract since many stores don't carry a large variety of extracts. When I finally did find it at one of my local grocery stores, I noticed it was labeled "Imitation Strawberry Extract". Ewww, not what I was hoping for. I didn't want fudge with a fake strawberry taste.
I love it that these days, we don't have to be content with what is available in local markets and stores. I checked online and found exactly what I was looking for, Pure Strawberry Extract, actually made from real strawberries. I quickly pushed the "order" button and within seconds received an email that my pure strawberry extract would be on my doorstep in two days.
And it was. A few days after it arrived, I set to work. I used the Candy Cane Swirled Fantasy Fudge recipe as a template and had some fun with it, adding a favorite condiment, Vanilla Bean Paste to the base and for the swirls used Pure Strawberry Extract combined with a bit of red food color.
A Café reader emailed me a while back and shared that Wilton has a No-Taste Red Food Coloring Gel. I ordered it and it's true, it's just color with no taste. It's quite concentrated, so you don't need much.
Another fun online discovery is natural food coloring. This is a food coloring made from vegetable colorants with no artificial dyes. I love that!
This strawberry fudge can be made in a traditional 8x8-inch pan but I decided to go for some Valentine fun and used several heart-shaped silicone molds. These silicone molds are inexpensive, come in all different shapes and are super simple to use. Fudge and baked goods just pop right out after they're cooled.
Pretty packages from the heart
I'll package the little strawberry fudge hearts in small bags or boxes and use them as gifts for family and friends. I also love that I can find an assortment of small gift bags and boxes online for dressing things up. I don't know about you, but there's something really special to me about gifts that come in pretty packages!
Although this fudge is perfect for Valentine's Day, it would also be really fun to celebrate lots of other special occasions. Strawberry seems to be a universally-loved flavor with young and old alike. I guess that's why everyone who sampled this strawberry fudge gave it a huge thumbs up.
Try it, I think you'll enjoy it too - it's so easy, so delicious and takes less than 30 minutes to make a batch (plus cooling time). That almost makes it dangerous, doesn't it?
Café Tips for making this Swirled Strawberry Fudge
- You'll often find the instructions for this type of fudge say to "cook it for 4 minutes" or sometimes "5 minutes". I've found, after years of inconsistency in my success with fudge, that it really helps to have a candy thermometer. When this fudge is cooked to reach a temperature of 234˚F it comes out perfect, every time. Candy thermometers are not expensive. I have this digital one which I love. It beeps when the mixture is within a few degrees of the goal and then beeps again when it reaches the set temp. I've also used this simpler thermometer with good success.
- I used these heart-shaped silicone candy molds for my strawberry fudge. You'll need two of them for this recipe. They also come in other fun shapes.
- If you live outside the U.S., you may not be familiar with half and half. It's a convenience product frequently used in coffee here in the States. It's simply half milk and half cream.
- Marshmallow creme is a light, creamy marshmallow mixture that's sold in jars. If you can't find it, you can make your own.
- Use a good quality white chocolate chip. How do you know if it's good? Check the label - one of the first ingredients, after sugar, should be cocoa butter. Many of the so-called "premium" chips don't have any cocoa butter. I really like the chips from Trader Jo's which you can purchase at their stores.
- I love vanilla beans but they are quite expensive and tend to dry out if you don't keep them carefully stored. Vanilla bean paste is essentially vanilla beans that have been scraped out of the pods. It's not cheap but it has the equivalent of A LOT of vanilla beans so it's really quite economical. I always keep vanilla bean paste on hand.
This Swirled Strawberry Fudge is super creamy with flecks of vanilla bean and swirled with strawberries. It makes a wonderful gift!
- 2 teaspoons pure strawberry extract
- ½ rounded teaspoon red gel food color I like the No-Taste red food coloring from Wilton
- 3 cups sugar
- ¾ cup butter I use salted
- ⅔ cup half and half*
- 12 ounces white chocolate chips**
- 1 7- ounce jar marshmallow creme***
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste**** The vanilla bean paste adds amazing flavor, but you could also use regular vanilla for this
Combine red food color and strawberry extract in a small bowl. Stir well till gel is dissolved, then set aside.
You will need 2 silicone mini molds, each having 24 openings. Place each on a sheet pan. This will keep them stable once they're filled with fudge. Set aside.
Butter or spray a small thin-bladed knife with cooking spray (a butter knife works well for this). Set aside.
Combine sugar, butter and half and half in a saucepan (at least 3 quart-size) over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring frequently. Using a candy thermometer, cook until mixture reaches 234˚F. Remove from heat.
Add white chocolate chips, marshmallow creme and vanilla bean paste. Stir until smooth and well mixed.
Using a small spoon, sprinkle the strawberry extract mixture in random drops over the surface of the fudge. Using the side of the prepared knife, run it back and forth through fudge a few times, creating a swirled pattern. Don't swirl too much. If you do, the whole mixture will turn solid pink.
With a small scoop, transfer the fudge into the cavities of the silicone pan, filling to the top. Avoid stirring the fudge, just scoop it up. You'll find that the last scoops will be less patterned, still pretty, but the red color will have combined more with the white.
Cool completely (if you're in a hurry like I usually am, refrigerate fudge till cool). Pop the fudge out from underneath. I like to push gently up on each edge before I remove them to ensure they stay intact.
Store in an airtight storage container with wax or parchment paper between layers.
See Café Tips above for more detailed instructions and extra tips.