I've been making almost exactly this recipe for 25 years using 3 cups of sugar instead of two and 1/2 cup of butter divided. It always turns out perfectly. I always add 1/4 cup of butter to the pot in the beginning and a TBSP of corn syrup once it reaches a boil. Sifting the cocoa with the sugar blends it well and helps avoid cocoa balls. I've never bothered to let it cool after reaching the desired temp, just remove it from the heat and plop in the butter and vanilla and start stirring.
For reference, I never use the softball method, too arbitrary. Get a good candy thermometer, and if you are new to this, cook it to 240 F.. You'll have to stir it for quite a while after removing it from the heat. If you want to shorten the stirring time a little, cook it to 245 F. but wait to do this until after you've made it a few times. No higher temperature than this though, otherwise you'll be making a rock.
When to stop stirring? A lot of recipes will tell you to pour when the shine comes off but I find that's a little late.
For the record, the stirring is absolutely necessary. The stirring forms long crystals of sugar. The longer and more plentiful they are, the finer the grain of your fudge.
Lastly, this recipe claims to make 60 pieces...um, nope, more like 18 to 24.
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I've been making almost exactly this recipe for 25 years using 3 cups of sugar instead of two...