Recipe Review

I Tried the 1950s Recipe for Million Dollar Fudge (It’s as Easy as Promised)

published Feb 11, 2021
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Credit: Jason Rampe

Mamie Eisenhower, America’s First Lady from 1953 to 1961, was known as a gracious and charming hostess, earning her the unofficial title of “Hostess in Chief.” But if you’re picturing platters of fancy hors d’oeuvres, think again: In the name of frugality, she encouraged the White House kitchen to purchase cheap pantry goods, such as boxed cake-mix and Jell-O, for both her family and for when they were entertaining.

It’s no surprise, then, that Mamie was a big fan of a recipe called Million Dollar Fudge, which is made mostly with packaged products and much easier to make than traditional cooked fudge. After she became First Lady, the recipe became attributed to her (this was the era when presidents’ wives often shared their “favorite recipes“) and has been known since as Mamie’s Fudge. A quick Google search proves it’s still beloved by many, and has even recently been given a makeover. Naturally, I was curious: Would it live up to its hype? I tried it to find out.

How to Make Mamie Eisenhower’s Million-Dollar Chocolate Fudge

You’ll start by greasing and lining a 9×13-inch baking dish (alternatively, you can use a baking sheet). In a large saucepan, combine butter, sugar, one can of evaporated milk, and a pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat cook for six minutes. Meanwhile, combine equal parts semisweet and German’s chocolate, marshmallow fluff, and chopped pecans in a large bowl and mix to combine. Immediately add the boiling mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Transfer to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Let harden at room temperature, then cut into 1-inch squares.

Credit: Jason Rampe

My Honest Review of Mamie’s Million-Dollar Fudge

Traditional homemade chocolate fudge is a process. Most recipes have you cook sugar until it reaches a certain temperature, and you’re not allow to stir it for fear it will seize and crystallize. Then, you have to let it cool before you can stir it all together. For a less experienced fudge maker like myself, Mamie’s recipe is a complete relief: You’re rewarded with tasty fudge without all the stress. Simply melt, mix, pour, and cool! It couldn’t be easier.

The fudge itself was mostly smooth — while I could detect a slight amount of sugar granules, it didn’t rob me of any enjoyment as I was eating it. My only very minor issue with this method is that the fudge ended up a little on the sweet side. Again, it didn’t keep me from going back for more, but it was just a little sweet for my taste. To combat this, I added an extra generous pinch of salt, and after tasting the fudge before I poured it into the pan I made the choice to add flaky salt on top. Not only did this bring a little more balance to the flavor, but it also gave it a pleasing appearance.

If you’re looking for a decadent fudge recipe that’s practically impossible to mess up, Mamie’s fudge is for you.

If You’re Making Mamie’s Fudge, a Few Tips

  1. Toast the nuts. Toasting the pecans adds a deeper, nuttier flavor and a bit more texture. Or switch the nuts to almonds to give it a Rocky Road feel. You can really use any nuts or seeds you like!
  2. Reduce the sugar. If you, too, prefer things less sweet, try reducing the sugar by at least 1/2 cup. You’ll also want to be generous with your pinch of salt, and/or add some flaky salt on top.
  3. Add more butter. I haven’t tried this, but some variations of this fudge call for more butter, and I’m curious if it would add deeper flavor or help smooth out the texture.
  4. Swirl in the marshmallow fluff. Next time, I’ll reserve a bit of the marshmallow fluff to swirl in at the end for decorative effect. 

Have you tried Mamie Eisenhower’s Million Dollar Fudge? Let us know in the comments.

Credit: Kitchn