Thursday, January 19, 2012

Penuche (Brown Sugar Fudge)

Last week I was in a cooking funk.  I just could not find anything that inspired me to get up out of my chair and create. I get like that sometimes, just completely "cooked out". But my brain works against me because I am still thinking boy I could really go for a piece of cake or a brownie or a ...(I suffer from an overactive sweet-tooth). It's a tug of war between my laziness and my cravings.

Well, my cravings (and that insistent sweet-tooth) won out and I ended up making something I have never made before, fudge.  What's more it was a unintended adventure as I originally set out to make these coffee squares I had found in one of my many cookbooks.

The recipe looked good, a nice little square to have with a cup of coffee or tea, so I went ahead and started to make them.  Half way through I notice the recipe calls for 3 ounces of vanilla fudge chopped (this is why most people read through a recipe before embarking on the "making it" part). 

I stopped and thought, "well sh--, I don't have any fudge. Do I make them with out it?" Most rational people would say yes, but apparently I am not a rational person because all of a sudden I find myself at 8 o'clock at night whipping up a batch of fudge for the first time!

And the outcome? Well, I'll be honest it was not easy and at one point I thought I had ruined it by stirring for too long but in the end it came together beautifully.  It was creamy and rich and had a lovely taffy flavour as I decided to make Penuche or Brown Sugar Fudge instead of the Vanilla Fudge the recipe called for.

And the squares? They were not great, WAY too sweet with the addition of the fudge, but I'm so glad I let my sweet-tooth talk me into getting out of my chair. I have always wanted to try making fudge, and now I have, quite unexpectedly and, hurray, successfully!

Penuche (Brown Sugar Fudge)
This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 1/2 hours
Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield: 32 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup half and half cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • pinch salt

  1. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Generously butter the parchment and set aside.
  2. Butter the sides of a heavy 2 quart saucepan. Combine the sugars, cream, milk and pinch of salt. Cook and stir at medium heat until the sugars dissolve and the mixture begins to boil. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and reduce the temperature to medium low. Continue to cook and stir until the thermometer reads 236 degrees (soft ball stage). This takes about 15 - 20 minutes.
  3. Immediately remove from the heat but keep the thermometer clipped to the side. Add the butter and vanilla but DO NOT STIR.
  4. Leave the fudge to cool to 110 degrees, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the thermometer and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon (the mixture is quite thick) for about 10 minutes or just until it begins to lose its gloss. (this is where I made the mistake and beat it a little too long. It changes in an instant from smooth mixture to dry fudge, so be careful)
  5. Spread into the pan. Leave it until it is firm then cut into squares. Enjoy!



  1. I love when a mistake results in something great! This is how I learned how to make brown sugar, actually. I found a new cookie recipe I've never made before, but I realized mid-recipe that I had no brown sugar. Luckily I had sugar and molasses and successfully made some brown sugar from these two ingredients... and now I'll never buy brown sugar again!

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. That is a great idea. I have heard that you can make brown sugar at home with white sugar and molasses and I have been meaning to give it a try. It would be a great way to control the molasses flavor of the brown sugar.

  2. That looks fabulous! I love penuche, and I haven't had it since I was a little kid. I'm tempted to try it, and it would be my first try at making fudge, too. But I have a big question. I've seen this instruction on other recipes, too. When it says "add the the butter and vanilla but DO NOT STIR," do you just leave it sitting on top to melt and sink in?

    1. Hi Peggy, That's right you just let it sit on top and melt until the fudge comes to 110 degrees, then it gets mixed in when you stir the fudge for 10 minutes. And here is my big confession, as I alluded in my post I overstirred it and it came together in a big lump in the saucepan. Then my brilliant 6 year old said why don't you put it in parchment paper and roll it flat with a rolling pin, which I did and it came together. Next time I will stop stirring a little sooner. But I would say it was a pretty forgiving recipe so it would be a good one to try for your first time.

  3. I really want to make this but I don't have a candy thermometer. Do you think I can just estimate the times?

    1. While the thermometer is most accurate there is another way you can test if the fudge is ready.
      For the first step, (soft ball stage (236 degrees)) have a glass of VERY cold water ready. At about the 15 minute mark start to test if the fudge has reached the soft ball stage by dropping a small amount of the fudge (about a 1/2 teaspoon) into the cold water. You have reached soft ball when you can roll the drop of fudge into a ball under the water but it will fall apart when you lift you hand out of the water. (The next stage is hard ball and you have reached that when you can pull the drop of fudge together into a ball under the water and it stays together in a soft sticky ball when you pull your hand out of the water. You do not want it to get to this point.)
      For the second step (leaving it to cool to 110 degrees), again use the time as a guideline but more importantly it should just feel comfortably warm to the touch, like a warm bath.
      I hope this helps and let me know how it turns out.

  4. Never made fudge before. I must try soon, this looks great!


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