Introduction: Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Fudge (and 35+ Flavors!)

As a holiday tradition, I gift a variety (~20 flavors) of homemade candy fudges to friends and family. As a Michigander, everyone looks forward to the most famous fudge around-that found on Mackinaw Island.

But what you won't find on the island are a majority of the flavors I make, including Cherries Jubilee, Bailey's Irish Cream, Kahlua and Cream, Frangelico Hazelnut, Rum Chatta, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Moose Tracks, Key Lime Pie, Caramel Apple, Root Beer Float, Pineapple Upside Down, Raspberry and Cream, Orange Cream, and my most famous Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond (aka Black Forest).

In this Instructable I will show you how to make fudge that will rival this regional favorite using a few basic kitchen utensils and common grocery store ingredients for a fraction of the cost. These flavors are so popular I have friends of friends asking how they can get on my fudge distribution list. As a friend, recently said “Mackinaw Island Beware”.


Light weight 5-quart Dutch oven (or soup pan)

Sturdy wide spatula

Wooden spoon

Measuring spoon, tablespoon

Liquid and dry measuring cups

Parchment non-stick baking paper

9”x13” pan (glass, metal, or corningware)

Food scale (optional) for measuring nuts

Nut chopper or knife and cutting board (optional)

Clean dish towels for covering fudge overnight

Knife or pizza cutter

Wax paper to wrap fudge

Wax paper bags, holiday stickers and/or labels (optional)

Step 1: Ingredients

Ingredients, Base (common to all flavors)

1.5 sticks of butter

5 oz of evaporated milk

3 cups sugar, white granulated

7 oz jar of jet-puffed marshmallow creme (or fluff)

12 oz or more of baking chips (type varies based on desired favor, substitute as show under additional ingredients)

Additional Specific Ingredients for Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond fudge

16 oz maraschino cherries, drained, chopped into quarters or sixths

Cherry extract, 2 to 3 tablespoons (to taste)

Almond extract, 1 to 2 tablespoons (to taste)

2 to 6 oz of sliced or slivered almonds

12 oz of semi-sweet baking chips (or morsels)

While I use Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond as an example, the possibilities for flavors are only limited by your imagination.

At the end of the Instructable, you will have learned the necessary skills to reproduce the other flavors with only slight variations as I’ve detailed.

Step 2: Line Pan and Prepare Ingredients

Pre-line a 9x13 pan with the parchment paper.

Pre-open the marshmallow fluff, and extracts. Pre-measure any nuts that will be added. If you wish you can chop these with a cutting board and knife, or a nut chopper. Pre-open the baking chips, and if using a larger bag, pre-measure the required amount.

Drain and slice the maraschino cherries. Put these on a few paper towels and squeeze some of the excess moisture out. This will help the fudge to set up.

This prep will ensure that you won’t be futzing with all of this stuff during the boiling process.

Step 3: Add Butter, Sugar, and Evaporated Milk & Melt Over Heat

Add butter, evaporated milk, and sugar to the Dutch pan. Stir the sugar into the evaporated milk and break the butter into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon. Melt over medium heat with frequent stirring.

Step 4: Boil 4 Minutes and Stir in Marshmallow Creme Fluff

Once it reaches a rolling boil, set a timer for 4 minutes. Boil over medium heat while stirring frequently. When 4 minutes is up, reduce heat slightly to medium-low. Use spatula to remove the marshmallow creme from the container, and scrape onto the side of the pan. Use a wooden spoon to stir in thoroughly to the rest of the mixture. Stir until well melted and mixed in.

Step 5: Stir in Baking Chips, Extracts, Nuts, and Cherries

Now stir in the baking chips. Continue stirring until baking chips are melted.

Then add the extra ingredients specific to the fudge you are making, for example: nuts, extracts, nuts, alcohol, or other flavorings.

In the case of Cherry Almond, you will add the almond and cherry extracts, and also add the sliced cherries. Stir well.

Step 6: Pour Fudge Into Lined 9x13 Pan

Remove fudge from heat. Lift Dutch oven with one hand, and scrape with the wooden spoon into the parchment lined 9x13 pan. Spread with wooden spoon to evenly coat the bottom; push into corners as needed.

Step 7: Allow Fudge to Cool & Cover Overnight

Let cool, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours. At this point it may still be warm, but the top should be firm, so it is now safe to cover overnight. You can finger test the top on a corner to be sure. Don’t cover it to soon, or the towel will become part of your fudge (ask me how I know). It takes a total of about 5 to 8 hours of cooling for the fudge to be firm and ready to be cut.

Step 8: Find Holiday Stickers, Bags and Labels (optional)

While the fudge cools, this would be a good time to hunt up any wax paper bags, holiday stickers, or labels you would like to use if this will be holiday gifts. The labels are easier to apply when the bags are empty!

Step 9: Remove Fudge From Pan, Cut, and Wrap in Waxed Paper

To remove the fudge from the pan, carefully lift out by grabbing the edges of the parchment paper. Set it down, and peel away the parchment paper from the edges.

I like to use a rolling pizza cutter to slice into bricks. I cut it into about 16 even pieces. I sometimes hang part over the edge of the table to help separate the bricks from one another and the paper. This is sometimes necessary due to the thickness of the fudge, and only being able to score a deep groove.

Wrap each piece of fudge in a piece of waxed paper to maintain freshness.

Step 10: Place in Waxed Paper Bag and Seal (optional)

When I give these as gifts I place the wrapped fudge in a waxed paper bag and stick funny labels on them (my husband is in charge of those) & seal. Alternatively I just place fresh sliced fudge in a lided tray with a flavor label on top.

Step 11: Optional Flavor Variations

Below is a list of other flavors I've rotated in and out over the years. Keep the "Base Ingredients" the same, and swap in the alternate baking chips and additional specific ingredients. And as you’ll discover in many of the recipes, we like our booze.

Orange Almond: dark chocolate baking chips, 2 to 3 tablespoons of orange extract, almonds.

Butter Pecan: white chocolate baking chips, 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter flavor extract, pecans

Cherries Jubilee: 16 oz white chocolate baking chips, sliced & drained maraschino cherry bits & rum extract or 1/3 to 1/2 c armaretto/rum/brandy

Kahlua & Cream: 16 oz of white chocolate baking chips (this is the cream).1/3 to ½ cups of Kahlua.

Almond Joy: 12 oz of semi-sweet or dark chocolate baking chips.2 to 6 oz of sliced of slivered almonds. 2 to 3 tablespoons of almond extract.1 to 2 cups of coconut flakes.1 to 3 tablespoons of coconut extract.

Butterscotch: 11 oz of butterscotch morsels.Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract.

Peanut Butter: 10 oz of Reese’s Peanut Butter chips.Optional: vanilla extract.Optional: 2 to 6 oz of peanuts (regular or roasted).

Peppermint: 12 oz white chocolate baking chips. Crushed candy canes or prepackage. 10 oz Peppermint Candy Cane Crunch.1 to 3 tablespoons of peppermint extract.

Frangelico Hazelnut: 15 to 16 oz of milk or semi-sweet chocolate baking chips or morsels.1/3 to ½ cup of Frangelico Hazelnut liqueur.2 to 6 oz of chopped hazelnuts.1 to 3 tablespoons of Watkins hazelnut extract.

Pumpkin Spice: 10 oz Nestle Tollhouse Pumpkin Spice flavored morsels.1 to 3 tablespoons Watkins imitation pumpkin spice extract, 2 tablespoons of dry pumpkin spice for pies (optional).

Lemon: 12 oz bag of white chocolate morsels.1 to 3 tablespoons lemon extract.

Caramel Apple Pucker: 16 oz salted caramel baking chips.1 to 3 tablespoons caramel flavoring.1 to 3 tablespoons Apple extract (optional if available).Approx 3 oz of dried apple rings, chopped into bits.1/3 to ½ cup of Dekuyper Sour Apple Pucker (sweet & sour schnapps imitation liqueur). Optional: pre-soak the apple bits in the required Sour Apple Pucker overnight.

Bourbon Vanilla Bean Macadamia: 12 oz of white chocolate baking chips, 1 vanilla bean (sliced open and inside scraped with a knife), 2 to 6 oz of Macadamia nuts, 1 tablespoon of bourbon (If desired. If you use your husbands $100 bottle, do it when he’s not looking).

Salted Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut: 12 oz dark chocolate baking chips, 2 to 6 oz chopped macadamia nuts. Immediately after pouring fudge sprinkle flake salt over the top.

Sea Salt Caramel Bourbon Pecan: 12 oz Sea salt caramel chips, substitute brown sugar (for the white sugar), 1 tablespoon bourbon, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract. At the same time the fudge is being made...I melt 25 Kraft brand Sea Salt Caramels. Immediately after the fudge is poured, drizzle the melted Sea Salt Caramels over the fudge.Then sprinkle 2 to 6 oz of chopped pecans over top, and pat them in to the fudge slightly (so they stick in). Sprinkle a flaky sea salt (such as Kosher salt) over top.

Bailey’s Irish Cream & Cookies: 16 oz of dark or milk chocolate baking chips, 1/3 to ½ cup of Irish Bailey’s Cream. Mix in chopped oreo cookies.

Maple Walnut: 12 oz of white chocolate baking chips. 2 to 3 tablespoons of maple extract, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 2 to 6 oz of chopped walnuts.

Mocha toffee: 12 oz to 16 oz of dark or milk chocolate baking chips, 3 packages of Starbucks Via Instant French Roast Dark Roast Coffee, 1 bag heath toffee bits

Rum Chatta: 16 oz of white baking chips, 1/3 to ½ cup of Rum Chatta

Rum: Ironically, this is the only alcohol fudge I make that doesn’t have any alcohol (most people swear I put a ton of booze in and think they’re going to get drunk). 2 to 3 tablespoons of rum extract. Due to the limited liquid added (no booze) you only need to add about 12 oz of dark or milk chocolate baking chips.

Root Beer Float (or how I got my husband to fall in love with me): 12 oz white baking chips, 2 to 3 tablespoons of root beer extract, 1 to 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract.

Black Walnut: 12 oz of dark, semi, or milk chocolate baking chips, 2 to 3 tablespoons of black walnut extract, 2 to 6 oz of chopped walnuts.

Grasshopper Mint Chocolate: 12 oz of dark, semi, or milk chocolate baking chips. Or another option is to use Andie’s Crème de Menthe baking chips instead (you can skip the extract in this case). 2 to 3 tablespoons of spearmint extract.

Amaretto: 16 oz of dark, semi, or milk chocolate baking chips,1/3 to ½ cup of Amaretto liqueur.

Cinnamon: 12 oz cinnamon baking chips.Or use 12 oz of white baking chips, and add a couple tablespoons of cinnamon.

Raspberry and Cream: 12 oz white chocolate baking chips, 2 to 3 tablespoons raspberry extract

Eggnog: 16 oz white chocolate baking chips, 1/3 to ½ cup eggnog

Orange creamsicle: white chocolate baking chips, 2 to 3 tablespoons of orange extract, almonds.

Pineapple upside down: 16 oz white chocolate chips, dried pineapple, drained and sliced maraschino cherries

Mexican hot cocoa: milk or dark chocolate baking chips, 1/8 tsp cayenne, 1/8 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp

cinnamon, 2 tbsp. expreso (2-3 packages of Starbucks Via Instant French Roast Dark Roast Coffee), salt

Samoa: milk chocolate baking chips, sweetened coconut, caramel chips, caramel extract

Moose tracks: peanut butter baking chips, peanuts, with some caramel and milk chocolate chips stirred in

Key lime pie: white chocolate chips, graham cracker pieces, lime zest, key lime pie extract

Butterbeer: butterscotch baking chips, rum extract

Holiday Cranberry: 12 oz white chocolate baking chips, dried cranberries

Peaches & Cream: 16 oz white chocolate baking chips, soak dried peaches in 1/3 c peach schnapps overnight and dump everything in fudge

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