Making fudge can be scary, because if you cook it one or two degrees over or under the right temperature you’re apt to have a giant fudge failure. But this recipe is hard to mess up: The ingredients are just stirred together and boiled on the stove for a few minutes (no candy thermometer required), then put in a mixer to beat in some powdered sugar. Just remember to stay away from fancy or natural peanut butters, as they won’t work here. Trust us: We tried, and they really did not work.
What to buy: Though you may be tempted to use all-natural, unsweetened, or no-salt peanut butter brands, don’t. Stick with a commercial brand like Jif or Skippy.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), plus more for coating the baking dish
1 teaspoonvanilla extract
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cupheavy cream
1 cupcreamy peanut butter, such as Jif or Skippy (not natural peanut butter)
1 3/4 cupspowdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Cut a 22-inch-long piece of parchment paper and fold over the edges so it measures 8 inches wide; set it aside. Coat an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with butter and line it seam-side down with the parchment (the 2 long ends will hang over the edges). Be sure to fit the parchment as smoothly as possible into the dish, snugly creasing it into the corners; set the dish aside.
Heat the measured butter and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter has melted. Stir in the brown sugar and cream and bring to a full boil. Continue boiling, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes more. Stir in the peanut butter until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for exactly 5 minutes (it will form a skin).
Immediately transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated (the mixture will look slightly curdled and sandy).
Quickly scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish and pat into an even layer. Use a paper towel to blot the excess oil off the surface. Sprinkle the peanuts evenly over the top.
Fold the excess parchment paper over the fudge. Using a measuring cup, press down on the parchment to press the peanuts into the fudge and evenly flatten the surface. Uncover the fudge and let it sit at room temperature until completely cooled, about 2 hours.
To remove the fudge from the pan, grip the parchment hanging over the edges and pull it out of the dish (if the fudge cracks, just press it back together). Transfer it to a cutting board and, using a long knife, cut it into 64 (1-inch) pieces, wiping the knife clean between slices. Though best eaten right away, the fudge can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.