We had someone write in and ask about Penuche. New Englanders call this yummy confection Penuche Fudge, while candy lovers from the South call it Brown Sugar Fudge. There's even a few spelling variations but mostly they're referring to the same velvety, caramel flavored fudge.
It's a candy in the fudge group, typically made with brown sugar, milk or cream, butter, and often nuts. However, it does not contain chocolate, and it is made with brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar that is used most for fudge recipes. When made properly penuche has a creamy, caramel flavor. I would also add that if you use condensed milk, it can have a dulce de leche type of mouth-feel. If you like butterscotch, caramel, and brown sugar flavored candies, this will become an all-time favorite.
The nuts used are generally pecans, but walnuts and other nutmeats can be used too. I have made it myself with dry (not oiled) Spanish marcona almonds and it's heavenly. Pecans lend a sweet, full flavor and walnuts balance the sweet with that earthy, bitter note.
Like all good fudges, Penuche should have a smooth, creamy texture that isn't grainy. To properly cook Penuche fudge you will need a candy thermometer. Make sure to invest in a thermometer that clips onto the side of the pan. The fudge will need to cook to 237 degrees, or what candy makers refer to as the soft ball stage.
Nancy wrote in with this question: I made penouche fudge and followed the receipe. The fudge turned out delicious but isn't smooth and creamy like it is supposed to be. It is a little on the dry side and pieces break off easily. What is the cause for the lack of smoothness?
We took a poll and thought she overcooked (or undercooked) the recipe. We asked if her thermometer was working and well cleaned before inserted into her pot. We also inquired if she used heavy cream. Well, she made the fudge again and it turned out perfectly. We asked for her recipe and promised to share with our candy lovers. Here is Nancy's "Penouche" (her spelling) recipe:
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 T. corn syrup
2 c. sugar
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3 T butter
1/2 c. white chocolate (2 to 3 ounces)
1 1/2 c. pecans
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap*, set aside.
In a heavy 6 quart pan (I use an old pressure cooker), combine cream, corn syrup and sugars. Place over medium
low heat (cooked on electric stove, dial set at 5) and stir with a wooden spoon until mixture comes to a boil.
Cook, stirring occasionally, to 236 or soft ball stage. Remove from heat. Without stirring, add butter. Let stand
until thermometer cools to 210.
Without stirring, add chocolate. Let stand 1 minute. Remove thermometer. Add nuts and stir with a wooden spoon
until chocolate is melted and butter is incorporated. Candy should be thick and creamy. Scrape into prepared pan.
Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm. Cut into 1 inch squares. Makes 64 pieces. Store in cool place.
*note can also use parchment paper instead of plastic wrap.