Making homemade candy can be a bit intimidating so it’s nice to have some dessert-table-ready sweets that aren’t too difficult, but also have really classic flavors. These Easy Fudge Bars are easier to make than traditional fudge and have a nice thick peanut crust to gives the fudge some much-needed texture to the chocolate fudge layer.
If I’m being honest though, I like this recipe most because you barely have to cook anything and it can be done pretty quickly. After a few hours in the fridge (or overnight), slice it up and serve it and it’ll be a hit for sure.
How is this different than traditional fudge?
Traditional fudge is closer to candy than brownie, if that makes sense. It’s cooked on the stove until it reaches a very specific temperature and then cooled. The chocolate solidifies as it cools, leaving a dense, rich dessert.
I’ve made versions of traditional fudge before and what’s different from this version and that version is this version doesn’t require specific temperature control. By starting with sweetened condensed milk instead of milk, chocolate, butter, vanilla extract, and sugar. That switch eliminates the need for the mixture to reach a candy temperature, although you still want to melt everything together obviously.
For more info on traditional fudge making, this Serious Eats tutorial is a great start.
If I’m being honest, the texture of this fudge bar recipe and a more traditional fudge isn’t a perfect match. This version is a little gooier and not set quite as much. If you like a really dense fudge, this recipe might not be the one for you.
Instead, these fudge bars set up almost like a really thick chocolate ganache or very thick chocolate pudding.
How to make the peanut crust
Most fudge recipes don’t need a crust because the fudge is sets up almost like a candy and is sturdy enough to not need a supporting crust.
These fudge bars though do benefit from a crust to give them some support and texture. I made this almost like a pie crust, but mixed in about 50% salted peanuts instead of all graham crackers.
Pulse those ingredients in a food processor and then add some cinnamon and melted butter and press that into a prepared baking dish lined with parchment paper.
I recommend baking the crust for 10-12 minutes at 350˚F just so the crust sets a bit. It will harden more as it cools in the fridge.
Ingredients for the chocolate fudge filling
This is a very easy fudge filling. Here are the ingredients I used:
- Sweetened Condensed Milk. This eliminates the need for sugar and milk separately and makes it less important to cook it to a certain temperature.
- Good chocolate. You need about 12 ounces of chocolate so use a good semi-sweet chocolate chip for the fudge bars.
- Vanilla. I always like to add a dash of vanilla to my chocolate.
- Salt. Just a pinch of salt brings out the chocolate flavors. You don’t need much though because the peanut crust has a lot of salt already.
Making these Easy Fudge Bars
Once you have made the crust for these fudge bars, remove it from the oven and let it cool.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the sweetened condensed milk, all the chocolate chips, the vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.
Cook that mixture together and stir well until the chocolate is melted. The mixture shouldn’t simmer at all. Be careful not to overcook it as the condensed milk can burn.
When the mixture is combined and steaming hot, pour it carefully into your lined baking dish. The chocolate layer should be about twice as thick as the peanut crust layer.
Let the fudge cool on the counter for 10 minutes and then transfer it to the fridge to cool completely.
Substitutions and Switches
Here are some easy substitutions or additions you could make to these fudge bars.
- Add nuts to the chocolate layer. I would start with a 1/2 cup of walnuts, almonds, or even more peanuts, roughly chopped.
- Amp up the peanut flavors by adding 1/2 cup of peanut butter to the chocolate layer as well.
- Use dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate to mix up the flavors.
- Make oatmeal fudge bars by using rolled oats instead of graham crackers to the crust.
- Want a challenging and fun baking project? Try these custard tarts from the Great British Baking Show!
Storing this fudge
These fudge bars keep best in the fridge. They will get really soft if you leave them at room temperature for too long. In the fridge though they will keep well for a week at least and are a nice treat!
Easy Fudge Bars
- 1 cup crushed graham crackers
- 1 cup roasted peanuts, salted
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 14 oz.
- 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 350 °F. In a food processor, add graham crackers and peanuts and pulse until the mixture is in a crumbly sand texture. Add cinnamon and melted butter and pulse together.
- Press the crust mixture into an 8×8 baking dish lined with parchment paper. I recommend having some of the parchment paper hang over the sides of the pan so it's easier to remove the fudge later.
- Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes until it's starting to brown slightly. It's okay if the crust doesn't look completely set. It will firm up in the fridge later.
Finishing the fudge
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the sweetened condensed milk and chocolate. Stir until the mixture is steaming hot, but not boiling, and the chocolate is melted completely. This will take about 5 minutes over low heat. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt.
- Stir the mixture into your prepared crust. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- Transfer to fridge and allow to cool for two hours or overnight.
- Cut the fudge into five even rows and columns, making 25 pieces. You could do 4×4 if you want slightly larger pieces.
- Store fudge in the fridge.