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I originally saw this recipe over at Baking With Dynamite and immediately knew I wanted to make it. I love brown sugar, I love fudge, what’s not to like, right? RIGHT. This stuff is good.
And apparently I’m the only person who has never heard of penuche. I brought the reject pieces into the office and one of my coworkers declared, “Dude you just took me to Mexico right now,” and said his grandmother used to make penuche for him when he was younger. Then a coworker from England told me about a little market near where her mother lives, and each time she went there she would buy penuche.
As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in Michigan and would go to Mackinac Island every summer. Mackinac is known for all of their fudge shops, so I’m pretty sure I must have seen penuche there when I was a kid. Or not, because I’m fairly certain I would have remembered this caramel-y, melt in your mouth sweet. And sweet it is! A tiny little piece goes a long, long way.
Photos of the process here.
1 lb brown sugar (about 2 1/4 cups, firmly packed)
3/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Grease 9x5x2-inch loaf pan; set aside.*
Combine sugar, milk and salt in heavy 2-quart saucepan. Place over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Wipe sugar crystals from side of pan as necessary. Cook without stirring until candy reaches 238°F or soft ball stage. Remove from heat; add butter. Without stirring, cool to 110°F or lukewarm.
Add vanilla and nuts. Stir continuously until thick and creamy. Spread into prepared pan at once. When firm, cut into squares. Store in airtight container.
Makes 24 pieces or (1 1/4 lbs).
*I would probably use an 8×8-inch pan and line it with parchment paper next time. I had a hard time cutting the fudge in the loaf pan, and parchment would make it easy (or easier) to pull out in one piece and cut on a cutting board.