Penuche fudge is a brown sugar fudge.
The base is just brown sugar, butter and milk.
- Some recipes add vanilla flavouring;
- Some use half brown sugar, half white sugar;
- Some add chopped nuts or candied cherries;
- Some versions add marshmallow cream spread.
Penuche fudge is particularly popular in New England. In Vermont, some people make a fudge they called “Penuche Fudge”, but put maple syrup in it instead of the brown sugar.
Variations adding marshmallow cream spread actually started happening quite early in the 20th century.
Literature & Lore
“Here are some practical suggestions for the housewife who wants to join the sugar boycott: Use brown sugar instead of white sugar whenever possible….. Instead of candies made with white sugar, eat molasses candy, penuche made with brown sugar….” — Now Is the Time to Get Out Wartime Sugarless Recipes and Force Down Sugar Prices. Madison, Wisconsin: The Capital Times. Tuesday, 8 May 1923. Afternoon edition.
“Penuche: Two cups brown sugar, 1/3 cup milk, 1 tablespoon butter, 3/4 cup nut meats chopped, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon marshmallow creme. Mix sugar, milk and butter in saucepan and heat slowly to boiling. Boiling with as little stirring as possible until it forms a soft ball when tested in cold water. Remove from fire, add nuts, vanilla, and marshmallow creme. Beat until creamy and pour on a buttered plate. Submitted by Mrs. D. Watson. 3650 W. 65th St.” — Favorite Recipes column. Chicago, Illinois. Southtown Economist newspaper. Tuesday, 8 December 1925. Page 18.”
No one knows for sure how the name “penuche” came about. One theory is that the word “penuche” might come from the Mexican word for raw brown sugar, “panocha.”