Penuche fudge is the original version of the more extravagant fudges we see today. Going back in time to when variety wasn’t so plentiful, bakers only have a couple of ingredients in their pantries.
With little to go off of, a culture of creating something new from very little was born, which is why we have so many different types of snacks and meals made from the same ingredients.
Today we will explain exactly what penuche fudge is, how to make it, and every interesting fact we can find about it!
What Is Penuche Fudge?
Put plainly, penuche fudge uses sugar, butter and milk like regular fudge, however the sugar is brown.
Other than that, the only other difference comes from it’s lack of “extras”. Penuche is a plain fudge that has no extra flavorings. If you really want to push the boat out, adding vanilla paste is as far as you can go before turning into something else again.
That being said, adding nuts to the mixture is typical of penuche fans, especially pecanas as it adds to the texture of the fudge without taking away from the simple flavor.
The reason why the brown sugar change is so important, is because of the carameling effect. Brown sugar, when caramelized, creates a deep and alluring brown color which is what the penuche fudge is famous for.
Where Did Penuche Fudge Originate?
Panocha comes from the Spanish slang word for “raw sugar”, although it also has another slang meaning which is insulting.
The reason for this mix in meaning is because of the “cheap” and “easy to get hold of” nature of the sweet.
Still the Spanish word “Panocha” is closely connected to the raw sugar sweet Penuche, which tells us that this version of fudge was originally created in Spain. The change in spelling and pronunciation seems to come from the Portuguese migration to North America in the late 1700s.
Although the Portuguese have their own language, it is very similar to Spanish, which is why this hypothesis is viable.
In a newly conquered country where everyone speaks their own individual languages, it makes sense that “Panocha” morphed into something that more people could pronounce.
Because of this change, many people falsely believe that Penuche originated in North American states like New England, but in reality, European countries created this delicious snack.
Where Is It Popular?
As you might have expected from the previous paragraph, New England loves penuche fudge. As with other treats in these colder regions, brown sugar is the secret ingredient.
Both butterscotch and maple syrup enjoy the color and taste that brown sugar adds, and these flavors go so well together that some New England households add maple syrup to their penuche batches!
There isn’t just one US state that loves penuche, though, as southern states also lap up this treat, although they call it by a different name. Sugar Fudge Candy is what some people prefer to call this fudge, and others simply see it as a type of frosting.
Don’t be surprised to learn that many southern states use penuche as a dusting on top of their baking!
Penuche is so well known in the United States that it even has its own national day – 22nd July!
Of course, it’s not just the US that enjoys this sweet fudge. It is very popular in colder climates like the United Kingdom, where you can find it on seaside vacation spots across the country.
And let’s not forget its place of origin. Both Spain and Portugal still sell and enjoy their historical sweet of penuche fudge.
What Is The Difference Between Penuche Fudge And Standard Fudge?
To many people across the world, our description of penuche fudge sounds remarkably similar to the fudge they would eat at home, however, our North American friends might be scratching their heads.
In the United States of America, chocolate fudge is considered the standard, and penuche fudge is often called “vanilla fudge.” With chocolate fudge as the expected treat, seeing a golden or pale snack in front of you might be a little confusing.
Instead of using milk, chocolate fudge creators often use condensed milk or cream to balance out the rich flavor of chocolate.
Other than that, the process of creating the two different types of fudge is exactly the same. However, when you would normally dissolve the sugar, milk, and butter, you could also add melted chocolate to the mix.
You can also use whatever sugar you have at hand when making chocolate fudge, as the golden color and caramelized flavors will be overpowered by the cocoa in the chocolate.
In Scotland, the traditional fudge or “Tablet” is slightly crumblier than a penuche. This is because of the condensed milk added and the extra boiling stage.
This extra boiling stage makes the sugar crystallize into a brittle and grainy texture. Tablets are either loved or hated for their crumbly consistency, so if you liked the flavor but disliked the touch, choose a penuche instead.
How To Make Penuche Fudge
The process to make Penuche Fudge is super simple, however, balancing the temperatures can take a while to master. We recommend using a candy thermometer to help you monitor your caramelized sugar.
- 1 Cup of Whole Milk
- 3 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
- 3 Cup of Brown Sugar
Mix the ingredients together thoroughly.
Heat the mixture to around 236 degrees Fahrenheit (113 degrees Celsius).
Once the mixture reaches this temperature, allow it to cool down.
Once the mixture has reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius), you can mix the solution and mold it to the desired shape.
If you want to add any additional flavors, now is the time.
Once placed in the desired pan, set the fudge aside to cool completely. Once set, it can be cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Cooling times can vary, but it should take around 3 hours to set.
- When checking to see if the fudge is cooked enough, use the “softball” test. This means taking a teaspoon of the mixture and dropping it into a glass of cold water. If the mixture turns into a ball, it is okay. If it doesn’t, the mixture is undercooked.
- To check to see if the mixture is overcooked, use the same cold water technique, but when the ball is formed, try to squish it out of the water. If it doesn’t squeeze easily, it is overcooked.