Penuche Fudge, sweet defined

100_0733Dan’s post on making his favorite dessert, Baklava, for Thanksgiving inspired me to make my own favorite dessert, which I’ve avoided making for years. Why avoided? Because it only comes out right (for me) every few times, and because I feel awful after eating it because it is pure fat and sugar.

Easier than this recipe would be to eat a cup of brown sugar and throw away the rest of the ingredients. You’ll feel about the same and won’t have to do the work it takes to fail.

Unlike Dan’s Baklava, I actually do associate Penuche with Thanksgiving. When I was young, my mom would make penuche fudge every Thanksgiving, and she and I would each eat about 1/3 of the pan, and feel miserable afterwards. It was awesome. And her success rate was much better than mine.

If you haven’t heard of penuche fudge, it’s because it’s a New England thing. Well, and a Southern thing, but they call it “Brown Sugar Fudge Candy,” which is hardly as fancy. It’s pronounced “puh-noo-chee” and comes from the Mexican word “panocha” which is coarse grade of sugar.

Wikipedia says that July 22nd is national Penuche Fudge day, which I think is damn foolish. In New England, that’s about when it’s most hot and humid and mosquitoes everywhere. Why would you want to feel ill and like a failure on top of that?

Still game? Good. I like fools with spirit. Here’s the recipe.

Penuche Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk (regular or soy or nut)
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup (EDIT: I now use Brown Rice Syrup, ratio 1:1)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix all of the ingredients together in a saucepan, except for the vanilla and butter. Cook on stovetop over medium heat until it reaches 234˚, mixing with some frequency to keep it from burning to the bottom (if you don’t have a candy thermometer, theoretically at this point you can “drop a bit into cold water and the drop will hold together in a round ball,” but I always had an even higher failure rate when going by that method).

Instead of by stovetop, you can cook it for 10 minutes or so on high in the microwave. Stop occasionally to test the temperature. Just don’t put your thermometer in the microwave. Please. Really. I mean it.

Take it off the burner (it will be a dark brown at this point) and drop the butter in. Don’t mix the butter in or mix the goop at all until it drops down to 120˚

100_0723

Phew. You’ve made it through the hard part! Now, the home stretch.

Just kidding. Now is the hardest part. First, add the vanilla. Now, start mixing it vigorously anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes. The moment it starts losing it’s gloss, scoop it into a greased pan (8 inch or so) and try to spread/flatten it. If you stir it even a minute too long, it will begin to turn hard on you. This time when I made it, I waited just a fraction too long, and had to press it quickly and emphatically into the greased pan with my fingers, and was semi-successful.

When eating, you will want to eat a lot, be the happiest and most amazed person on your block, and then wish you could die. Perhaps have orange juice and pickles nearby for emergency tastebud recovery.

19 comments to Penuche Fudge, sweet defined

  • razldazl

    very delicious, and i felt like i would vomit 30 minutes later. also, the principle reason for my comment is about the quote above. i always liked garrison keillor until i read that. he must be an idiot.

  • Matt

    I’ve found this entry to be very informative, Christopher. Now I know how to tailor my future desserts to your tastes. Penuche Ice Cream. Penuche Sauce. Penuche Crunch. Death by Penuche.

  • WarPig

    YE GODS! Kill a man, why don’t you! ;-)

    Sounds delicious, but I’d have to eat it only in amounts measured on an electronic scale.

    Even more sugar than my Aunt’s peanut butter fudge. Sounds like shoo-fly pie. I bet it smells wonderful when cooking.

    OBTW, when is the vanilla added, with the butter? Or as the butter is being stirred in?

  • @sweetie, so glad I could share that part of my childhood. ;-)

    @Matt, sounds like heaven. Or like the afterlife would be either imminent or desired.

    @War Pig, I’m on my phone, but will fix that in the morning. You add it once it hits 120, right before the final stir.

  • Hedgie

    Oh, great. Now I’m going to need to make baklava AND penuche. Kill a lady, why dontcha. I’m feeling a little ill already.

    Not like that’s going to stop me.

  • Given the picture, I assumed you were using the penuche recipe from Joy of Cooking, though our copy (mid-’70’s edition), has it slightly different (no corn syrup).
    I’ve never tried the stuff, but it looks like it would satisfy me in much the same way as pecan pie (which I’ve made on many holidays, and is my favorite kind of pie).

  • @Sean, kinda like pecan pie, only much much sweeter. And actually, the recipe I use is hard to find, it’s from one of the 1st editions of Betty crocker. :)

  • WarPig

    I make pecan pies for the rest of the family, but seldom for myself. Sorta fussy to do correctly, like a French apple tart.

  • [...] or publisher, please, pimp me). I also made penuche fudge this week, which I blogged about over at Cookrookery. [...]

  • Muzhik

    I never knew it was called anything else but penuche. My Dad was from Boston, and he got my mom to make it during the holidays. Except they insisted on adding nuts — walnuts, I believe. Being a bit of a purist, I despise adding nuts to sweet things. They always interfere with how the cake/candy/chocolate bar/bowl of sugar is supposed to feel as you move it about in your mouth, allowing the scent molecules to meander up the back of your throat and tickle your nasal passages.

    I’ll have to try to make some and see if I can get the right mouth feel.

  • @Muzhik, my feelings on adding nuts to cookies or candy are exactly the same. Love nuts, but keep ‘em out of the sweet place.

  • WarPig

    I dunno, homemade pecan sandies are about as good as it gets, and I always make peanut butter cookies with crunchy peanut butter.

    Love my new granton-edge knives, by the way. I recommend them, chose your own favorite brand but get the ones with the granton edge. Makes cooking for a bunch a lot easier.

  • Muzhik

    @WarPig, yes, but in those instances, the emphasis is on the nut: it’s not “Sugar Pie with Pecans” it’s “Pecan Pie.” Peanut Butter Cookies don’t emphasize the “butter”, they exist for the peanut.

  • WarPig

    I dunno, I’m a toasted nut lover, and I’ll put them in or on a lot of things. Walnuts and Pecans are the best for me. Maple nut log, pumpkin nut log, nuts in/on fudge. I don’t put them in brownies, though I’ll put them on top.

    I guess it just depends on if you are a toasted nut lover or not. I buy the nuts raw, roast/toast them myself, salt them and eat ‘em like they are going out of style. I even made walnut vodka just to try it. Not bad, almost as good as the bacon vodka.

    At least my heart is in great shape. Nut oils are supposed to be good for the heart. Just had an EKG and an echo-cardiogram, both were clear as a bell.

  • WarPig

    Here’s a recipe for Easy Holiday Fudge, Grandma called it, but she made it year round. I think she got it from a magazine in the 40s or 50s.

    * 2 cups sugar
    * 2/3 cup evaporated milk
    * 12 regular marshmallows
    * 1/2 cup butter
    * 1/8 teaspoon salt
    * 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
    * 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
    * 1 teaspoon vanilla

    In a 2-quart saucepan combine the first five ingredients. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil and is bubbling. Boil and stir for 5 minutes; remove from the heat. Stir in the chocolate chips until completely melted; stir in the walnuts and vanilla. Spread into a buttered 8-inch-square pan and cool before cutting. You can try varying the chips. Mix in peanut butter (or substitute them for the chocolate), butterscotch, etc.

    This freezes very well, but dang, you gotta eat small pieces as it is RICH. This recipe makes 25-30 pieces, depending on how you cut them. Grandma cut them, and put a leaf of mint on each one. We popped the piece, mint and all, into our mouths and chewed, blissfully, then went outside to burn off the sugar rush by running around like maniacs.

  • Muzhik

    @Christopher, I had some time to torment (I never kill time — that’s being far to easy on it) before dinner and made your Mom’s penuche. Only difference is that I used evaporated milk instead of just plain milk — it added to the rich creaminess of the final product. Only problem is that I don’t think I beat it long enough after adding the vanilla. I got bored after 5 minutes and just poured it into the pan. Now, four hours later, I’m wondering if I made it so it won’t set up properly. (sigh) Means I’ll have to make some more tomorrow and this time beat it senseless before putting it in the pan.

  • WarPig

    @Christopher. I made the penuche. I can say it is delicious, but also incredibly sweet. My grandson liked it quite a bit and he took some to school to share with his friends.

    @Muzhik, yeah it has to be beaten properly. Also adding evap milk may make it set up funny, due to the added fat content.

  • @Muhzik, @WarPig might be right on this one, not sure. But also, make sure you make it go all the way to the proper temperature, a chemical candy change happens. And also-also wik, if you let it cool down to the stated temperature, you don’t generally have to stir it very long.

    That said, I indicated my high failure rate in the recipe, so you’re in good company. :)

  • WarPig

    Making scratch chocolate pies is also a little fussy. If left to boil too long while being stirred, they turn grainy, too little and they are more like warm pudding than a proper pie. Also if you don’t temper the eggs with the boiling chocolate mixture correctly, they’ll scramble and the pie is ruint.