Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mamie Eisenhower's Fudge

I've seen Mamie's Fudge, Million Dollar Fudge, Crazy Mamie's Fudge, all sorts of names. There are also several different recipes under each name. After a bit of Internet research, seems that this particular recipe is Mamie Eisenhower's recipe, or is attributed to her. Where she got it from is anybody's guess. I found the recipe in a magazine several years back but it is also in the Eisenhower Archives (click here for their PDF and a quick way to print the recipe) as Mamie's Million Dollar Fudge. Mrs. Eisenhower's recipe quickly became popular after it was printed in several women's magazines and newspapers during her husband's presidency.

Mamie Eisenhower in her inaugural gown,
painted in 1953 by Thomas Stevens.
Public domain image via Flickr Commons

The story goes that President Eisenhower liked his wife's fudge so much that he called it her Million Dollar Fudge. Well, whatever, it's a pretty rootin' tootin' good fudge and sooo easy. No soft-ball stage, no beating until your arm goes numb.

Apparently, there was a Million Dollar Fudge recipe that circulated around in the mid-1900's the way the Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe did a few years back. I'll quote from

"Fantasy Fudge" is probably the world's most popular fudge recipe. The folklore (there are very few reliable historical references for fudge) goes something like this... A candy company named “See’s Candy” made a fortune selling a wonderfully rich and fluffy fudge. It contained a “secret” ingredient known only by those who made it. The secret ingredient turned out to be marshmallows. The Marshmallow Fluff company had a very similar recipe on the back of each jar of Fluff. When Kraft Foods introduced Marshmallow Creme (not “cream,” spelled wrong intentionally) it included an easy “Fantasy Fudge” recipe which was a cleaned up version of the Million Dollar Fudge Recipe and called for Kraft Marshmallow Creme.

Skaarup Fudge, by the way, has a eleventy-gillion fudge recipes plus plenty of good fudge-making tips and information. Check 'em out.

Mmmm, all this talk about fudge ....
So here's what you're going to need:

4 1/2 cups of sugar
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp butter
12 oz can of evaporated milk - not sweetened condensed (too sweet!) 
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips- not milk chocolate
12 oz German sweet chocolate
2 cups marshmallow cream
2 cups chopped nuts

Notes: If you cannot find sweet chocolate, you can substitute 12 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate plus 6 tbsp of sugar or 12 oz. of bittersweet chocolate (without the extra sugar). And of course the nuts are optional- I've made it both ways and personally prefer with nuts but I'm not allergic.

This is a pinch of salt, with my pincers. Seems like alot, doesn't it? My understanding is that a "dash" is 1/8 tsp. and a "pinch" is just a bit less than that.

Before you start--

Decide on your pan to cool the fudge. This recipe makes a fair amount of fudge and I've found that the 9x13 pan called for in the recipe makes really thick fudge, which can be hard to cut into small pieces. Instead of halving the recipe (heaven forbid) or splitting between two pans, I line a deep cookie sheet with foil and spray with oil. So much easier to cut into reasonably sized pieces.


Place the sweet chocolate, chips, fluff, and nuts in a large, heat-proof bowl.


Place the sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and salt in a large saucepan.

Boil for 6 minutes, stirring frequently almost constantly.

I start the heat out on low so that the sugar doesn't scorch and turn it up a bit once it's nice and liquid-y, just to get the boil started. BUT, turn it back down again once it starts to boil or it could boil right up out of the pan and all over your stove. Trust me on that. Plus I've found that it still boils along at a pretty nice bubble even on the lowest heat.

Carefully pour the very hot sugar mixture into the bowl with the chocolate and stir it all up until the chocolate is completely melted.

Did I mention that this is very hot? I mix the fudge together in a stainless steel bowl so use a towel to keep from frying off my fingerprints. Purists will cringe and cry out that glass bowls are the only way to go but my stainless bowls have worked for the past several years. You'll also want to be sure to scrape the sides as you stir since the fudge will start to harden and crystallize on the bowl as it cools. Just don't scrap out all the hardened fudge when you're turning it into the pan or there will be grainy bits in your fudge.

Scoop out the fudge onto the cookie sheet. Smooth it as much as you can and then just set it aside to cool. If you're impatient you can stick it in the 'fridge.

When the fudge is firm, I place a large cutting board over the cookie sheet and flip it over onto the cutting board. Peel off the aluminum foil.

I spray a pizza cutter with PAM and use that to cut the fudge. Go slowly as it's easy to drive all over the fudge and end up with a wide variety of shapes and sizes but with a bit a caution this is a slick way to cut the fudge. I store the fudge in a Tupperware container with waxed paper between each layer of fudge.

There you go-- serve with milk and Christmas carols next to the tree.

Until next time---


  1. Don't add the butter to the milk and sugar mixture as shown in the picture. Boil without the butter. Add the butter at the very end of the boil. This makes creamier fudge. Adding it with the sugar and milk will result in poorly dissolved sugar which crystallized prematurely resulting in fudge with a grainy texture. Butter may also alter the soft-ball (drop test) which would lead you believe the fudge will set when it really won't.

  2. Thanks for your comments. I've always made this recipe the way I found it and I did notice that the recipe in the Eisenhower archives instructs to go ahead and throw the butter in with the milk and sugar. I've never had it actually refuse to set- the beauty of this recipe is the no soft-ball/drop test- but have noted it being grainy a couple of times. Well, in the name of thorough research, I should test a batch with your suggestions! Happy day! Thanks for visiting.