Most fudge recipes do not contain gluten ingredients, so fudge is generally considered gluten-free. However, some types of fudge may contain ingredients like wheat flour or malt that do contain gluten. It’s important to check the ingredients list for any gluten sources if you need to avoid gluten.
Ingredients in Fudge
The basic ingredients in fudge are:
- Butter or cream
- Milk or condensed milk
- Chocolate or cocoa powder
- Flavorings like vanilla extract, nuts, etc.
None of these core fudge ingredients contain gluten. Here’s a breakdown:
Granulated white sugar does not contain gluten. Confectioner’s sugar may contain cornstarch to prevent caking, but cornstarch is naturally gluten-free. Brown sugar does not contain gluten. Sugar substitutes like honey, maple syrup, and molasses are also gluten-free.
Butter and Cream
Pure dairy products like butter, heavy cream, and condensed milk do not contain gluten. Make sure to use products that don’t have any gluten-containing additives.
Plain milk is gluten-free, whether it’s regular cow’s milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, or powdered milk. Avoid milk flavors and products with added ingredients, as those could contain gluten.
Chocolate and Cocoa Powder
Pure chocolate is gluten-free, as cocoa beans don’t contain gluten. However, some chocolate chips or bars may have gluten-containing ingredients added, so check the labels. Make sure to use pure unsweetened cocoa powder without any additives.
Vanilla, nuts, peanut butter, caramel, and other typical fudge flavors don’t contain gluten and are safe for gluten-free diets. Again, watch out for flavored extracts or products with questionable ingredients.
Potential Sources of Gluten in Fudge
While the core ingredients in fudge are gluten-free, some recipes call for additional ingredients that do contain gluten:
Some fudge recipes use a small amount of wheat flour, usually around 1-2 tablespoons per batch. This helps provide structure to the fudge. If the recipe calls for flour, substitute it with a gluten-free flour instead.
Malt and Malt Extract
Malted milk powder or malt extract is sometimes used to enhance the flavor of chocolate fudge. These contain gluten, so avoid them and use plain cocoa powder instead.
Crushed cereal like graham crackers or cookies are occasionally mixed into fudge. Avoid these gluten-containing mix-ins.
Some flavored fudge recipes call for ingredients like peanut butter crackers or cookie crumbs. Double check that these don’t contain gluten.
Gluten-containing starches like wheat starch may be used as thickeners. Opt for cornstarch or other gluten-free starches instead.
Certain alcohols distilled from gluten-containing grains, like malt whiskey, are not gluten-free. Substitute with liquors made from grapes, potatoes, sugar cane, etc.
How to Make Gluten-Free Fudge
Making gluten-free fudge at home is easy if you avoid recipes with wheat flour, malt, etc. Here are some tips:
– Choose recipes that stick to the core fudge ingredients like sugar, dairy, chocolate, and flavorings.
– If the recipe calls for flour, use a gluten-free flour instead or leave it out entirely.
– Use pure chocolate bars or chips rather than malted milk powder for flavor.
– Avoid adding any gluten-containing cereals, cookies, crackers or other mix-ins.
– Use gluten-free flavorings like real vanilla extract, almond extract, etc.
– Thicken the fudge with cornstarch instead of wheat flour or starch.
– Swap any questionable alcohol for a certified gluten-free liquor.
Gluten-Free Fudge Recipe
Here is a simple gluten-free fudge recipe:
- 3 cups white sugar
- 3/4 cup butter
- 5 oz evaporated milk
- 7 oz marshmallow creme
- 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and grease with butter. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and marshmallow creme. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Once boiling, continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth.
- Add vanilla and salt and pour into prepared pan.
- Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.
This easy fudge recipe avoids all sources of gluten. Feel free to customize it with your favorite gluten-free flavors and mix-ins.
Common Brands of Gluten-Free Fudge
Many brands now offer certified gluten-free fudge options:
Russell Stover is one of the largest mass-market fudge brands. They offer many clearly labeled gluten-free fudge flavors made without wheat, barley, rye, oats, or malt.
See’s Candies is known for their old-fashioned fudge recipes. They have a line of certified gluten-free fudges made in dedicated kitchens.
Sanders Candy in Michigan offers gluten-free fudge made with real dairy and natural flavors. Their gluten-free varieties include sea salt caramel and chocolate walnut fudge.
Kilwins handcrafts small-batch fudge at locations across the U.S. They label products made without gluten-containing ingredients.
Gertrude Hawk Chocolates offers both classic and gourmet gluten-free fudge flavors. They avoid all gluten grains and additives.
Tips for Buying Gluten-Free Fudge
When searching for fudge that is safe to eat on a gluten-free diet, here are some tips:
– Check for a “gluten-free” label on the packaging. This could be in the ingredient list or as a certification seal.
– Call or email the manufacturer to confirm their products are gluten-free if it’s unclear from the packaging.
– Look for fudge made with basic gluten-free ingredients like real chocolate, butter, sugar and dairy. Avoid fudge with a long list of artificial flavors and additives.
– Opt for brands that make their fudge in dedicated gluten-free facilities and kitchens to prevent cross-contamination.
– Purchase individually wrapped fudge squares to minimize cross-contact rather than buying from bulk bins.
– Stick to plain chocolate flavors as these tend to have fewer ingredients overall compared to fancier flavors.
– Avoid malt-flavored fudge as malt contains gluten. Similarly, avoid cereal or cookie flavored fudge.
Ingredients to Watch Out For
When evaluating whether a fudge product is gluten-free, be wary of these ingredients:
Any ingredients containing wheat are not gluten-free. This includes wheat flour, wheat starch, wheat bran, etc.
Barley is a gluten grain, so barley flour, malt, malt extract and malt flavoring are not GF.
Rye contains gluten, so watch for rye flour or other rye-derived ingredients.
Oats are often cross-contaminated with wheat and barley. Only specially labeled gluten-free oats are safe.
Maltodextrin can be made from wheat or corn. Make sure it is specifically gluten-free maltodextrin.
Cookie, Cracker or Cereal Pieces
Fudge with mix-ins like cookies or crackers likely contain gluten. Opt for gluten-free add-ins instead.
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
This chemically processed wheat product contains gluten.
Many soy sauces contain wheat. Use tamari or coconut aminos instead.
Can You Make Fudge With Oat Flour?
Most oats contain traces of gluten from cross-contact with gluten grains. However, certified gluten-free oats are widely available. Gluten-free oat flour is a great option to use in place of wheat flour in fudge recipes.
Here are some tips for using oat flour in fudge:
– Substitute oat flour 1:1 for any wheat flour called for in the recipe.
– Use certified gluten-free oats and oat flour to ensure there is no contamination.
– Reduce any xanthan gum or guar gum by about 1/4 teaspoon since oat flour has more binding power.
– You may need to reduce liquid slightly more since oat flour absorbs more moisture.
– Add a touch more sugar or chocolate to balance out the extra earthy, nutty flavor from oat flour.
– Use quick oats and process into a flour in a blender for fresher flavor.
Oat flour gives great texture and added nutrition to gluten-free fudge. Just confirm your oat ingredients are certified gluten-free before using.
Is boxed fudge gluten-free?
Many mass-market fudge brands like Russell Stover now offer gluten-free fudge boxed assortments. However, always check the ingredients since some flavors may contain gluten.
What about fudge topping?
Thick fudge topping or sauce is typically gluten-free. Popular brands like Smucker’s check for gluten during manufacturing. But verify before using on your gluten-free dessert.
Can you make fudge with almond flour?
Yes, almond flour works beautifully in fudge recipes. Substitute 1:1 for any wheat flour and prepare to enjoy delicious gluten-free, nutty fudge.
Is there such a thing as gluten-free malt?
Unfortunately, no. Malt is made from barley, so it inherently contains gluten. Always avoid malt extract or malt flavors when making gluten-free fudge.
The Bottom Line
In summary, most basic fudge recipes using dairy, chocolate, and sugar are naturally gluten-free. But certain recipes with added wheat flour, malt, cookies, or other gluten ingredients should be avoided. When buying fudge, look for brands that accurately label gluten-free options or contact the manufacturer to be sure. Make your own fudge at home by sticking to real food ingredients and leaving out all sources of gluten for a tasty, safer treat.