I hate using a candy thermometer, although I often do. I tend to gravitate towards classic old recipes that say "gently boil for xxx minutes"; I have the BEST luck with those old recipes.
This peanut butter fudge is a good example of one of the recipes I just described. I've made it many, many, many times and it has NEVER failed me. You can either put it in a 11 x 7 pan or in mini-cupcake papers. The size of the pan doesn't really matter; just remember the smaller the pan the thicker the fudge.
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk (do not use regular milk)
1/2 cup of good quality butter (do not use margarine)
Constantly stirring, over medium high heat, bring these three ingredients to a full rolling boil. As soon as it reaches a boil that doesn't go away when you stir it, turn the heat DOWN (my stove burners go from 1-10 and I usually bring it to a boil on setting 8, then turn it down to setting 3). My rule of thumb is...once it has come to that full rolling boil, turn the heat down by at least half...(you want to keep that full rolling boil going, but just barely). STIR CONSTANTLY.
Once you get that heat adjusted, set the timer for 6 minutes. After 6 minutes, remove from heat and add:
12 ounces peanut butter chips (2 cups)
1 TABLESPOON of vanilla extract
1 cup dry roasted peanuts (chopped a little)
Stir until smooth and pour into foil lined pan (don't grease the foil). This foil will help you lift the cold fudge out when it is time to cut it up. Chill in refrigerator to "set" the fudge.
If you are putting the fudge into mini-cupcake papers, it makes about 3 dozen.
NOTE: This recipe works well with ANY flavor of chips, I've used chocolate, dark chocolate, half peanut butter-half chocolate, etc. I'm guessing white chocolate would be pretty for the holidays too (any kind of nut will work too).