South African Fudge Recipe

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Homemade South African Fudge

My husband isn’t much of a ‘foodie’.  He doesn’t get all crazy about food the way I do… unless… it’s something sweet.  He LOVES desserts.  One day, several years ago, he was reminiscing about the amazing fudge that he used to buy while in primary school in Capetown, South Africa; “It’s creamy, not chocolaty, and it melts in your mouth“.  Hmm.  Sounds awesome.  But how was I to make it when I’ve never tried it before?!?!   (Luckily, his sister gave me her recipe!)

Now, I’ve always heard that making fudge was really hard to do.  In fact, the only type of fudge I ever make successfully is the “cheater” chocolate fudge that uses sweetened condensed milk and the microwave.  (There was this one time I tried to make pumpkin fudge – and it was a disaster!  I didn’t end up with fudge, but instead made a crumbly mess.  It was ok in the end, since I used the failed fudge as an awesome filling for pumpkin cinnamon rolls!)  Thankfully, this recipe has never given me any problems – even with substitutions.  Half the time, I don’t even bother with the candy thermometer!

One of the ingredients in South African fudge is Golden Syrup.  For the first couple of years I made this recipe, I didn’t really know what “golden syrup” was.  I had never heard of it, and I had never seen it.  I figured it was some sort of sugary syrup, and brownish or ‘golden’ in color.  (Haha wasn’t that sooo smart of me???)  That’s it.   So in its place, I have used: honey, dark corn syrup, maple syrup… you name it.  The recipe has always been fine, no matter what kind of syrup I used.  Last year though, I discovered a German supermarket in town – and they carried all sorts of European grocery items.  When browsing through the different flavors of Austrian jam… I saw a can on the next shelf that said “Golden Syrup”… and I bought it.  Since then, I’ve used Golden Syrup in the recipe instead of whatever random syrup I had on hand, and I’ll admit… I think it’s a little better with it… but it’s not 100% essential.  So use what you have, unless you have a supply of Golden Syrup.

South African Fudge:

Golden Syrup can be found in European or British Grocery Stores

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 T. water
  • 4 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 T. Golden Syrup (or dark corn syrup)
  • 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  In a heavy pot (I used a pan that was too small in these photos – try something a little bit bigger, like a dutch oven), dissolve the  sugar into the water over medium-low heat.

2.  Add the butter and golden syrup, and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted.

3.  Add the salt and the sweetened condensed milk, and bring to a boil.

4.  Continue cooking the mixture over medium-low heat (it should be simmering, or boiling very gently) while stirring with a wooden spoon.  You will need to cook this mixture on medium-low for about 20 minutes to reach the “soft ball” stage.  (Don’t worry – this is not as hard to do as it seems.  Basically just cook the mixture for 20 minutes, stirring, and you will pretty much be there at the 20 minute mark.  I have made this recipe a bunch of times without the candy thermometer and it turns out just fine.)

5.  When the mixture becomes thick and reaches the “soft ball” stage (235-240 degrees F), turn off the heat.  (You can use a candy thermometer to judge when you are at the soft ball stage, or you can also drop a small amount of the mixture into a cup of cold water.  If the mixture firms up so that you can form a soft ball of candy between your fingers, then you are done.  If you are using a candy thermometer, I would stop cooking somewhere around 237 or 238 degrees… if you go all the way to 240, you might end up overcooking.)  Another way to tell if your mixture is cooked to the right stage, is to look for the mixture to “sheet” off the back of your wooden spoon.  If you dip the spoon into the mixture and pull it out above the pot, look for the syrup to slowly drip off the back of the spoon – it may start off as individual drips, but they will coalesce into a single sheet of syrup coming off the spoon.

6.  Remove the pot from the heat, and add the vanilla extract (stirring as you go).  THIS STEP IS THE MOST IMPORTANT!  Keep stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon – actually, you want to stir vigorously or beat the mixture – for about 3-5 minutes until it becomes thickened.  You will notice the mixture beginning to crystallize and form a paste on the sides and corners of the pot – the syrup will start looking a little chalky.  At this point you can stop.

7.  Pour the fudge mixture into a non-stick foil (or greased foil) lined 8″ or 9″ square pan, or a 7″ X 11″ rectangle pan.  (The pan size doesn’t have to be exact – basically, the bigger the pan, the thinner the fudge.  The smaller the pan, the thicker the fudge pieces will be.)

8.  Allow the fudge to rest on the counter for 2-3 hours until firm.  Remove to a cutting board (use the foil as a sling to remove it from the pan), and cut into squares.  Store in an airtight plastic container.


  1. Amy says:

    HI Mika
    How sweet is the fudge ? Not tooth aching sweet I hope. I found most of the American fudge recipe in candy making book to be extremely sweet . I guess it is just the nature of fudge but that is one of the reason I have not try to make any fudge so far. BTW, what is it taste like ? butterscotch? Also I think World Market sell Golden syrup ( if there is one near your house )

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Amy,
      There is quite a bit of sugar in this recipe… so it is quite sweet, as most fudges are. It tastes a bit like caramel or dulce de leche. It also has a… powdery or chalky quality that kind of melts in your mouth. Yes, I have recently seen Golden syrup at Cost Plus World Market… great tip!

    • Danelle Noble says:

      Hi Mika. Is the T for teaspoon? I’m attempting to make this recipe. I am South African and have been craving this for so long now…

      • Mika Mika says:

        Hi there! Here are the abbreviations:
        “T.” = Tablespoon
        “tsp.” = teaspoon
        Hope it works out for you!! :)

  2. Giulia says:

    Love it!
    I’ll cook it for my boyfriend tomorrow!
    Thanks Mika!

  3. sha says:

    hi..what happened if i reduce the amount of sugar? will it still turn out to become fudge?

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi there. I would be careful not to play around with the ratio of ingredients in any fudge recipe – it will likely make the fudge fail and not set up properly. Sugar is one of the most important ingredients in fudge – not just for sweetness, but also for structure.

  4. Mariam says:

    Thank-you so much for posting this recipe. I have been scouring the internet for a decent South African fudge recipe. I just can’t seem to get excited about American fudge even after 20 years . My daughter and I were super excited to try this recipe and we were simply in heaven! Butter, sugar, condensed milk you really can’t go wrong however this particular combination and method results in a fudge with the perfect texture. This is what I grew up.

    Not only that, instructions were great and photos were brilliant. Thank-you very much.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Glad to hear it worked out for you! :)

  5. Mariam says:

    I have made fudge using this recipe with ‘Light corn syrup’, ‘honey’ and ‘Golden syrup’. Interestingly the honey and golden syrup had a very similar taste however, even though I grew up in SA and on Golden syrup and honey, I preferred the fudge made with ‘light corn syrup’. It was a little less sweet and the syrup taste didn’t take over too much. We do omit the vanilla. This is still by far our favourite fudge recipe. Thanks again.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Glad you liked it! :) Thanks for the feedback!

  6. Lucy says:

    This recipe was great. My friend has been craving fudge and I thought I’d make it as a Christmas gift. I tried another recipe which completely failed so I searched again and found your one. Thank you for saving the day, it came out perfectly.

    • Mika Mika says:

      yay! Glad to hear it worked out for you! :)

  7. Tracey says:

    Hello Mika
    Have you tried to double the mixture and if so how successful was it?
    The recipe sounds wonderful and I look forward to trying it.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Tracey, No – I’ve never doubled the recipe and would be a little bit worried to do it. Sometimes fudge (like jam) can be a bit tricky, and doubling the ingredients can sometimes alter the cooking time and temperature – and the recipe can fail as a result. I think it would be better just to make two separate batches instead.

  8. Failure says:

    wellll— long story short:
    1. made fudge
    2. stirred for 20 minutes… Turned BLACK
    3. tastes like fudge
    with smoke
    and bitter ground coffee
    did I do anything wrong

    • Mika Mika says:

      Did you do anything wrong? Probably. Sounds like you burned it… how hot was your stove turned up? It needs to be medium-low, not full blast. How big was your pot? If you used a too-big pot, or something with a very wide bottom, you might have had too much surface area.

  9. Tezi says:

    Love this recipe Mika! Thank you – if you follow this you cannot go wrong. Thermometer is key I recon.

  10. Dalton says:

    I tried this today. And it was so extremely sweet. Not like American fudge, to me this is sweeter. But I don’t have much of a liking for chocolate. This is good but too sweet for me to try and make a whole batch.

    • Mika Mika says:

      There is no chocolate in this recipe… so I’m not sure what you mean when you say you don’t like chocolate when critiquing the recipe? As far as the recipe goes, this is fudge, which is a type of candy. If you don’t like sweet stuff… then I guess candies like fudge are probably not for you!

  11. Emily says:

    Hi Mika! I was just wondering, how many people does this recipe serve? It sounds delicious and I was just going to make it as a treat for the kids in my class and there are thirty. Thank you!

    • Mika Mika says:

      It makes 24 squares (how I cut it), so I would say anywhere between 12 – 24 servings. But you could cut them smaller, just do 5 rows, and cut the rows into 6 pieces, so that will give you 30 slightly smaller squares.

  12. Dani says:

    Turned out great! Thanks for the very detailed directions.

  13. Anthony says:

    Hi i was wondering what the measurements were when referring to 5T or 2T etc?

    • Mika Mika says:

      “T.” = tablespoon.
      1 Tablespoon is about 14.8mL

  14. Chantelle says:

    Hi! This is my FAVOURITE sweet of all time! Just wondering if I can use caster sugar instead of regular sugar ?

    • Mika Mika says:

      I’m not sure… I’ve never tried it that way. I normally use regular granulated sugar. You could try it and see if it works?

  15. rozlynn crotz says:

    Finally…a decent south african recepi..tht sounds fool proof…ill be making this as a fathers day gift ths weekend…..wish me luck!…thanx mika

    • Mika Mika says:

      Good luck! :)

  16. Jayme says:

    I just made this tonight, aaah the flavours there but it didnt set properly!! What did I do wrong? Did I take it off the heat to early? Or did I not mix it with the vanilla long enough? I followed all the steps but came out like soft toffee.

    • Mika Mika says:

      I’m not sure? After you add the vanilla, you want to keep stirring until the mixture starts looking chalky. If you stop stirring too soon, you end up with more of a soft chewy caramel (which is still good… but not fudge!).

  17. Carole says:

    Hi. I did de recipe but without de vanilla. The mixture is not getting hard, even with one night in the fridge. It’s more like a chewy texture. Is vaniila so important for the nice texture of rhe south african fudge of maybe someting else I did wrong? Can I reheat this mixture and try to recuperate it?

    • Mika Mika says:

      You need to add the vanilla. Without the vanilla, you will end up with a soft chewy caramel. It will taste good (and you can cut and wrap in waxed paper for homemade caramel chews), but it won’t be a fudge!

      Make sure to add the vanilla extract, and then stir until the mixture looks chalky as instructed in step 6 (***I did warn that that was the most important step!***)

  18. Sa-eeda Daniels says:

    This recipe used to come on the condensed milk tins!
    Was a staple in many Cape Town homes!
    Still today, you will find These on shop counters.
    Thank you for the recipe and the photos!
    It looks perfect!
    About to start a batch myself!

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hope it turns out for you! :)

  19. Cheryl says:

    I have made this recipe about 4 times. Follow the instructions 100% and yet my fudge is not getting hard. It’s that soft chewy texture. I even resorted to a hand held beater to make sure I beat well enough after I remove the mixture from the heat.
    I used a candy thermometer too. I’m just not sure what’s the reason it’s not hardening like it should.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Did you add the **vanilla extract** and then stir (as described in step 6)? The only time this recipe is failed me, I forgot to add the vanilla and I ended up with chewy caramel instead.

  20. Nicolise says:

    I made this tonight with my kids, they helped me stir.. just a small portion of the outsides of the bowl were like toffee but the rest came out perfect!!!

    • Mika Mika says:

      Glad it worked out for you!

  21. Janet Spix says:

    Anyone who does not like sweet stuff and makes this recipe one has to ask what about sugar and syrup did you think would not be sweet?

  22. Bernadine says:

    I miss South African fudge and would love to try this recipe☺️ Can I substitute golden syrup with maple syrup do you think?

    • Mika Mika says:

      Yes you can – I’ve done it before. It does add a bit of a maple flavor to it though.

  23. Shanah says:

    Thank you for this well explained recipe! My husband was craving this fudge, he’s drone South Africa, and he loved it. My in-laws too! They just said it was a tad sweet but she said that when she use to make it in Africa they would put a couple drops of lemon after you add the Vanilla to cut the sweetness a bit. Going to try that on my next batch. :)
    Thank you!!!

  24. Angelique says:

    I have made it twice now, but I accidentally forgot to stir it for 3 minutes after I pour the vanilla extract in. I mixed the vanilla extract with the mixture, but didn’t stir for 3 minutes. What effect will that have on my fudge?

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hopefully not? I once forgot the vanilla entirely and stirred and stirred… and ended up with a tasty caramel that I cut into soft chews and wrapped as candy. So if it failed, you can still salvage the “fudge” and call it “caramel”.

  25. Amanda says:

    Hi .the water and sugar ratio does not look right.

    • Mika Mika says:

      I double checked the recipe and it looks correct to me.


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