No-bake fudge is a variant of traditional fudge that uses similar ingredients, but does not require the use of an oven or stove. There are a number of different ways to make no-bake fudge, though some of the common ingredients include butter or margarine, sugar, and milk. Semi-sweet or baker's chocolate is often used to make chocolate fudge, and a variety of fruits and nuts can be added as well. The consistency and flavor of no-bake fudge can be different than regular fudge, since the sugar is not heated and never enters the soft ball stage during the process of preparation. This type of fudge is typically easier and quicker to make than traditional fudge.
One of the general concepts behind the making of confectioneries is that heating sugar to different temperatures affects the consistency of the final product. Low heat results in a syrupy consistency, while high temperatures create the hard crack stage seen in toffee, and the brown liquid stage found in caramels. The making of traditional fudge involves the application of enough heat for the sugar to reach the soft ball stage, which is at roughly 240°F (115°C). No-bake, or no-cook, fudge is a similar product that achieves a roughly comparable flavor and texture without the application of any heat.
The basic components of no-bake fudge are sugar and condensed milk. Some recipes call for sweetened condensed milk, while others require condensed skim milk and other similar products. This is the other difference between no-bake fudge and regular fudge, since fudge traditionally uses milk that has not been condensed. In order to make no-bake fudge, butter or margarine is typically added to this mixture. Since there is no baking involved, the ingredients are simply mixed together, poured into a pan, and then placed in a fridge to solidify.
It is also possible to create chocolate no-bake fudge, which does not typically make use of butter or margarine. This type of fudge can use any type of chocolate, from unsweetened baker's chocolate to sweet chocolate chips. In either case, the chocolate needs to be melted before it can be added to the condensed milk. That requires either a microwave or a double boiler, which can make this type of fudge more time consuming to make than butter-based versions. If baker's chocolate is used, then sugar is typically also added to this type of fudge in order to sweeten it.