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I am currently living in an Asian culture where taste buds are apparently more delicate. Many first-time tasters of fudge almost gag due to the overwhelming sweetness of fudge. I have searched in vain for recipes that reduce the richness of fudge in order to make it more palatable. Any suggestions as to how to reduce sweetness in fudge but still allow it to be fudge?

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  • If this is East Asia we're talking about (and I'm guessing it is, since South Asian cuisine generally doesn't have a problem with inordinate levels of sweetness...) then with fudge you also need to bear in mind lactose intolerance ...
    – AakashM
    Mar 8 at 9:59
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Traditional "fudge" gets its structure primarily from the sugar, which forms fine crystals; the texture of fudge is a stiff suspension of the sugar in the fat. So simply reducing the proportion of sugar will mess up the texture, as GdD alluded to.

But fudge isn't the only thickened-fat confection out there! One dish that immediately comes to my mind is sesame halwa, which uses the sesame particles in the same way fudge uses the sugar particles. Nut butters generally have a similar suspension (if you've had "natural" peanut butter without hydrogenated oils, or tahini or sesame sauce for that matter, think of the extra-thick layer that forms when it hasn't been stirred).

So I think you could temper the sweetness by combining a fudge recipe with something like sesame halwa, or by adding peanut flour as a substitute for some of the sugar. If you use light-colored peanut flour I don't think it would even affect the taste too much (other than reducing the sweetness, of course).

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  • You've generated within me an irresistible urge for some halwa (or halvah as I learned it), as soon as possible :) Mar 5 at 15:13
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    I second this advice. I’ve seen some recipes for peanut-butter fudge that use ground peanuts in place of part of the normal sugar content to cut back on the sweetness. You also lose out on some of the chocolatey flavor that way too, but it may be significantly more palatable to those who are not used to or do not like fudge. Mar 5 at 20:51
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    Make sure you call out the peanut content, in case of diners with allergies who might not expect the peanuts in a fudge. Mar 5 at 21:13
  • I found a zero-sugar "fudge" recipe in a book that I haven't had the guts to try. Apparently it depends on using fats that are solid at room temperature as the base ingredients. I don't normally expect to see crisco, peanut butter, and bacon fat in the same recipe. As I said I haven't had the guts to make it and the recipe was basically heat, combine, pour, and let to congeal.
    – Joshua
    Mar 8 at 4:47
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    @Joshua that seems more like a way to get fat palatable and stable (for its energy perhaps) than to mimic fudge - see also pemmican.
    – Chris H
    Mar 8 at 9:44
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You can't make fudge less fudgy. Fudge is a concentrated mass of butter, sugar and milk, if you change the balance to reduce sweetness it will be too buttery, if you reduce the butter it's too sweet. It's an intense flavor that isn't to everyone's liking even in areas where it's widely available.

If you want to introduce people to the flavor without them being overwhelmed use small amounts rather than big chunks, preferably used as a feature in a different dessert with less intense flavors.

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    Those small amounts are often served as part of a chilled desert, which also seems to reduce the fudginess. A lemon- or orange- flavoured recipe ( using zest or oil) might also be of interest to offset the sweetness
    – Chris H
    Mar 5 at 8:28
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    Yep. I'm not Asian, but I don't eat many sweets and most "western" desserts I find cloying, especially when you're used to desserts being light and fragrant rather than heavy and intensely calorie dense. For some things you can make less sweetened versions, but fudge without sugar is like pesto without basil - I don't think you can really make un-sweet fudge. Its whole purpose is to be absurdly sweet.
    – J...
    Mar 5 at 16:56
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    @J... You can potentially approximate the texture though without the sweetness if you know what you’re doing. I’ve got a friend who uses homemade red bean paste with some cocoa powder mixed in for this purpose on occasion. It’s definitely not fudge, and I’m not sure how exactly he prepares it (I’ve never asked), but he’s able to get a texture and flavor that’s remarkably similar to fudge without the over the top sweetness. Mar 5 at 20:47
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    @AustinHemmelgarn You can, but without sugar there's not much left that's particularly enjoyable on its own... it's just a fatty paste at that point, and that's not terribly exciting as a dessert.
    – J...
    Mar 5 at 20:50
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    @AustinHemmelgarn Ube was my thought, as an Asian equivalent to a fudge texture without actually being so sweet or rich. Mar 5 at 20:53
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I'm not sure this will temper the sweetness enough for your audience, but you can bring it down a bit by using dark chocolate and putting stuff in your fudge. I haven't tried this exact recipe but it's fairly close to my generic fudge recipe, except that I just eyeball the quantities of whatever I want to mix in: dark chocolate, pistachios, and candied ginger.

Another option is to try a non-chocolate fudge. Matcha green tea fudge seems to be popular, and it might be a more familiar flavor for your tasters.

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Have you considered different forms of sugar like pure glucose? You could also add in some maltodextrin which is a kind of sugar, it's used in sugar-free candy/chocolate like Russell Stover brand.

I agree with the other answers that say the fudge gets its consistency from the sugar. You're going to need to substitute some of the sugar with something of similar consistency. This will be a small experiment.

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