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Fudging in French... + dessert recipe

La Charlotte de L'isle - patisserie in Paris (c) Kristin Espinasse
Forward this post to a French friend. Today's edition, on fudge, is a reverse-dictionary entry: instead of translating a French word, we'll begin with English. This is dedicated to all of our French readers--so happy to know you're reading. You keep me on my toes! (photo of a sweets shop taken in Paris)

fudge (n) (fuhzh)

    : espèce de caramel mou (a kind of soft caramel)

fudge (v)

    : tricher (to cheat)

chocolate fudge cake = le moelleux au chocolat
butter fudge = le caramel mou 

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 Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

Le Fudge est une confiserie anglaise... réalisée avec du beurre, du sucre, du lait et généralement parfumée avec du chocolat ou de la vanille...

Fudge is a candy (or confectionery) made with butter, sugar, and milk and commonly flavored with chocolate or vanilla.

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse 

The Accidental Confectioners

After my father left early yesterday morning, I remembered an unfulfilled goal I'd set before he arrived: I was to pick Dad's brain a little each day--ask him all about his life and that of my ancestors.... Only, si vite que ça, three weeks had gone by and, poof, he and my belle-mère Marsha were gone!

I sat there in bed last night, eating the last two squares of fudge I'd found in the fridge. As the chocolate melted in my mouth I began to remember one story I'd gotten out of my dad: how surprising it had been to learn that he once loved to make fudge!

My dad, just like his mother was, is a skips-dessert type--so it was amusing to learn that the two enjoyed the bucolic pastime of candy-making. 

"In the 50s," Dad explained, "it was kind of the new fad. Everyone was making fudge."

(Later, I would google "fudge" and better understand why my no-dessert grandmother knew how to make this decadent confiserie: historically fudge came into public consciousness after it was made at college campuses to raise money. Among the first universities to participate in a fudge auction, were Vassar and  Smith college. My grandmother Annette was at Steven's Finishing College (for women), probably making fudge like the others. I wonder.

Dad went on to say that it was easy to make fudge, you only needed three ingredients: cocoa powder, butter, and sugar! "Mom and I just mixed it all together, heating it. Next we let it harden."

As Dad spoke, I looked over at my belle-mère, Marsha, who listened along with me. Wouldn't it be a fun project for Jackie (who would be spending the month of July in the States, with Dad and Marsha) to make fudge with her grandfather? It would be a wonderful souvenir. At the very least it would be an activity Dad and Jackie could enjoy together (should fly-fishing prove unpopular).

Marsha lit up as the two of us hatched a plan to get grandfather and granddaughter in the kitchen together. Locking eyes with my belle-mère I whispered, "I think we have all the ingredients here now--for a healthier version!"

 And just like that--illico presto--stepmother and stepdaughter (make that belle-mère and belle-fille, for isn't that much better?!) were in the kitchen-turned-laboratoire.... for a trial run.

I reached for the coconut oil, the cacao, and the honey as Marsha nodded in agreement: this should work!

My belle-mère agreed that coconut oil would be a perfect substitute. We discovered that both of us used it on a daily basis: Marsha uses it in her morning nutribullet -- and I use the organic coconut oil as a daily moisturizer.

I measured one cup of the oil, before transfering it to a bowl for mixing. Because it is summertime, the oil is almost liquified, so it wasn't necessary to heat it first.

Next, Marsha measured out the chocolate powder (I found a box of 100 percent cocoa powder in the cupboard), before carefully folding in the powdery chocolate (which tended to rise like a puff of smoke as Marsha stirred it. Atchoum!).

After, I measured out 3/4 cup of honey, then poured it into the bowl. That's when the intensive stirring began....

After a few minutes Marsha passed the bowl to me. "Your turn!" Having passed the bowl back and forth a few times we'd whipped up an almost pourable fudge! I grabbed a plastic spatula and Marsha guided the flow of chocolate into a cake pan (we had no wax paper. This was the best we could do!).

I remembered a bag of crushed pecans that had been in the fridge for months. Marsha and I stuck our nose in the bag and determined the spiced nuts were unspoiled--and ready to become the perfect fudge topping. On they went! Marsha then set the pan in the fridge for a few hard-to-wait-out hours. 

"Do you think it's ready yet?" Marsha asked for the third time. Finally, she fudged, pulling out the pan and lifting out a square for us to sample before dinner. As the chocolate melted in our mouths we locked eyes. C'était réussi! The fudge was a success! 

"It tastes kind of like a Mounds bar," Marsha noted.

"It's delicious," I agreed. "But I wonder if Dad and Jackie should stick to the classic butter-sugar-chocolate recipe?"

"It's true that not everyone will like this version," Marsha agreed. "You might have to be used to the healthy substitutions (of coconut oil and honey) in order to have a taste for it."

The real test came after dinner, when the fudge platter made the rounds at the dinner table.... and the accidental confectioners were delighted to see that everyone reached for seconds!


Tip: though refrigerated for a few hours, the fudge melted quickly on our fingers. Marsha suggested serving it alongside ice cream -- something that would help preserve it for a few more minutes :-)

Update: after Dad and Marsha's departure, when I ate those last two comforting squares, I noticed the chocolate didn't melt as fast. So an extra day in the fridge helps. I leave you with the recipe:

Healthy Fudge

  • one cup organic coconut oil
  • one cup chocolate powder (unsweetened, 100 percent cacao)
  • 3/4 cup honey 
  • toppings such as crushed nuts, coconut flakes, dried fruit...

Mix all ingredients together. Pour onto wax paper (or into a pan). Note: To loosen the chilled fudge, Marsha set the pan in an inch of warm water--for a brief moment! Then she was able to cut the fudge and lift it out of the pan.

Healthy fudge (c) Kristin Espinasse
We sprinkled crushed spiced pecans on top (made by our friend Phyllis Adatto, of French Country Wines. That's the deep pan we used to set the fudge (normally we would have used a cookie sheet and wax paper...) The pan's diameter was the right size -- small enough to allow the poured fudge to pile up for a thick enough square. 
Healthy fudge (c) Kristin Espinasse
I set the fudge on a pretty pottery dish that Marsha's son, Michael, gave us -- 15 years ago, while on a mission in Europe.

To comment on this post, click here. I'd love to know your ideas about what to add to this fudge recipe. Or come back after you've tried the recipe--and tell us how to improve it! Click here to comment.

French Vocabulary

si vite que ça = as quick as that
la belle-mère = step-mother (also means mother-in-law)
la confiserie = sweet, candy -- also "sweets shop" 
illico-presto = pronto 
la belle-fille = step-daughter (also can mean daughter-in-law)
le laboratoire = laboratory 


This recipe would be great to make for the holidays, so keep it in mind. (Here is Marsha and Dad. Picture taken on Christmas, 2009).

  Dogs of France and Europe (c) Kristin Espinasse

End of post photo--to leave you with a smile.The only reason this one is titled "Homeless Dog" is because of the poubelle or garbage can that lends to the imagination. But how many homeless dogs do you know who take the time to put on a shirt? Besides, this dog wasn't dumpster diving, he was practicing the fine French art of gleaning!

Looking forward to sharing a "Dogs of France: Part 2" edition with you sometime. Meantime, enjoy this photo of a "dressy" character I ran into at a ski station on Mont Ventoux. To see the Dogs of France (and Europe!) post, click here and share it with an animal lover.

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Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles

Such a charming story, Kristin. I love that you two could come up with a successful recipe on the spot. Well done; it looks delicious!

Candi Herman

So sweet! I Will say that many of m'y French friends do call it fudge though, because caramel is not exactly "it", but that's ok thé story is beautiful!


Hi Honey,

I love todays post. I am still crazy about the joy Marsha brings into our lives, I could spend days with her enjoying her love for life and creative spirt. We really lucked out when Kip found Marsha. Have you figured out how to talk Marsha into sending us notes on Jackie's visit to Sun Valley?

I am so happy you are back posting - it's been terrible not having your loving spirit touch my days for the past month.



Stephanie Kaplan

My sister "invented" a similar recipe as a way for her family to eat more coconut oil. We use less oil and more cocoa powder - 1 part coconut oil, 2 parts cocoa, honey to taste. I add shredded coconut and stir it in. Covering it with pecans looks delicious, but I'm wondering where you got the pecans. I live in Vermont and spend the winters and spring in southwest France near Cahors and I've never been able to find pecans in that area of France. I'm sure walnuts would be good too.


I haven't made fudge in years but I remember the bit about bringing it up to a particular temperature and testing a drop of it in water to see if it's ready. Your way seems so much easier and healthier, too!


There is no link for the audio file!!!!!

Kristin Espinasse

Rive, thanks for your note. Ive just uploaded the sound files.

Mom, love your comments, which add so much to the stories. I hope Marsha sees your note. She and Dad and Jackie must be waking up by now, enjoying that first cup of coffee after their 24 hour voyage.

Candi, thanks for the info about the French calling fudge... fudge :-)

Stephanie, the pecans are from Phyllis in Texas :-)

Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Thanks so much for sharing the wonderful visit of Marsha and your Dad during the past three weeks.... which seemed like three days, I'm sure. It's always more than a little sad and nostalgic when dear ones leave and the house suddenly seems empty without them. Maybe another small "batch" of fudge would help to soften their absence a bit. (Thanks,too, for the recipe.) Bonne journée ou soirée.


Yum! What a delicious post! Thank you for sharing the experiences and the recipe. In turn, it made me think of a recipe I can share with you, doubly so given your love of peanut butter...interested in a recipe for peanut butter fudge? If so, I will e-mail it to you!


Bonjour Kristin de Sablet et merci au petit clin d'œil aux français qui lisent votre chronique :)! j'en fais partie. Je vous lis en regardant le tour de France! Très bonne journée. Jocelyne

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Jos! Just saw your note -- I read the comments via my inbox and sometimes read them out of order :-) Happy to know another Francophone is reading.   That delights me!

Kristin Espinasse

Cythia, you read my mind -- another batch ought to cure these blues.

Leslie, you read my mind, too! I was about to google peanut butter fudge! I seen there is an almond butter version, too...

Lisa A.,Los Angeles, CA

I must try it. It sounds wonderful!!
Je suis allergique au sucre, alors ce sera génial! (I'm allergic to sugar, so this will be great!)
Thanks for sharing! I love the photos...like always. :)


Ouh la la, de l'huile de coco en confiserie! I didn't know it was edible, it would remind me of Hawaian Tropic, so...
Je lis rëgulièrement votre chronique en France, et ai offert votre livre à des amies Américaines, après l'avoir lu, bien sur.
Et j'aime les histoires de Jules , Marsha et votre papa. Et Jackie doit être heureuse de passer un mois en famille aux States!
Bravo, et continuez!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Sylviane! Just enjoyed a visit to your site--and your oil and digital paintings. Love the animal portraits, too!

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Thanks for the recipe! I am allergic to chocolate, and this will be a great idea to make fudge using carob powder - the closest I can get to a chocolate taste. I love Stephanie's idea of adding the shredded coconut - that might taste even more like a Mounds bar; perhaps the extra cocoa to oil ratio would add some firmness you suggested might be lacking...hmmm. All sounds yummy...melty or not :)

Bill Facker

Ummmmmmmm ... Fudge! My Mother used to make peanut butter fudge as well as the standard variety, it was excellent. Thanks for bringing up some great memories! Aloha

Julie Farrar

This is the original fudge recipe. How cool. The one I make every Christmas and that my mom made every Christmas before me uses butter, Nestle's chocolate chips, sugar, and marshmallow cream. I'm eager to try yours to see if it competes with Mom's.

Joanne Ablan

Thanks for the fudge recipe. I like to eat ginger (the kind you
get in a ziploc bag at Trader Joe's) with fudge so I will put little
pieces of ginger in my fudge. Joanne

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

My older brother made fudge for us long years ago, us being the six siblings. His cooking challenge was not stirring, but learning to melt baker's chocolate without burning it, which came as a bar, not powder.

He used butter and sugar, the ingredients we had on hand. As always with my older brother, he had a big success. I never did learn where he got the idea to make it, but we were glad of his specialty.

That is a great story of cooking au pif, as you so like to do.

I hope the quiet is not too much for you, after two months of family visits, with your daughter on her American adventure. Is she satsified with her accent on English, I wonder.

Energetic and delightful story.


Our dear Kristi,
Another wonderful post and beautiful pictures! What a plaesure and privilege for us to share in your life--and your writing!
I really enjoyed learning the history of fudge (almost as much as I love the idea of enjoying some! YUM!) Thank you for sharing your recipe with us!
I hope sweet Jackie will not be too uncomfortable in Arizona,even though I know your dear Dad and Marsha will take good care of her. I just spoke to my oldest friend (from age 5!) who lives outside of Phoenixand it is 115. (here in Las Vegas today we're supposed to hit 117!)This heat wave is horrible!
Love, Natalia XO


In my teens we used coconut oil to tan...so be careful with your fair skin. It moisturizes nicely but draws that sun in.
There is a stand at one of our farmer's markets that makes truffles using olive oil. They are flavored with such aromas as lemon, lavender, hazelnut and orange, then covered with sort of a ganache. Wonder how it would work in fudge.
Italians have used olive oil for eons as a moisturizer and claim it keeps the skin baby soft.
I am sure Jackie will have a wonderful time. You may just have a little fashionista cowgirl when she returns.

Joan Clark

I have a small little Chocolate Shop and have been making fudge and turtles (we call them tortoises) for twenty something years and I am excited to try your version. How wonderful to have that memory of your dad cooking with his mother. When I was young, in the 50's, when coming home from a date I would wake my dad, no matter what time it was, and ask, "would you like a muffin?" Then we would make muffins together and slather them with honey butter and chat. I cherish those special moments. You are such a delight and I so look forward to each of your posts.

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon

What a beautiful mission, to gather memories of your dad’s allowing them a new life with you. I often think of this, Kristi, as my mom and dad hold so much family history and memories within them that I am afraid will be lost.

I use coconut oil in cooking and baking and prefer to substitute honey whenever I can. I think your fudge sounds divine! I adore your latest sweet story of your family, thank you for sharing this, and your fudge tips, with us.

Vera Marie Badertscher

Of course I loved this post, since I recently started a website called Ancestors in Aprons. I have so many memories of family members and ancestors tied to food and the serving of food that they spilled over into a website. Too bad you didn't ask your dad those questions. Perhaps Jackie can do the interviewing while she is in the U.S.? Teens sometimes make great interviewers. She needs to get one of those little digital recorders that holds hundreds of hours of conversation and chat with your mom and your dad. You will both be so glad to have those stories later.

Lauren Golden

I enjoyed seeing La Charlotte de L'ile as she was a favorite of mine, playing the piano, while we enjoyed the sweets and tea. I'm pretty certain she is not with us anymore. A sad loss.

Zoe Willet

Delighted to read of my alma mater, Smith ('59)! I don't recall any fudge-making there, however. But perhaps that's where my mother, also a Smithie ('24) learned- she wasn't much of a cook, but fudge was one of her specialties. Brings back memories!




What kind of mission was Marsha's son Michael on?


Kristin, I made this fudge - it's delicious! I love that it's so healthy too! I keep mine in the freezer and it's less gooey than keeping it in the fridge. I ha a table full of dinner party guests try and guess the ingredients, no one could believe that it didn't have any butter or sugar! Thanks! :)

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