Penuche, an old-fashioned brown sugar treat. Here’s the recipe from Endlessly Inspired.
 Nut-free penuche. Here’s the recipe from Fearless Fresh.
 What could make it better? Some chocolate and sea salt. Here’s the recipe from Rook No.17.
 Piloncillo, a cone of panocha. Here’s more about it from Sweet Potato Chronicles.
July 22nd is National Penuche Day. Penuche (pen NOO chee) is often called brown-sugar fudge, but it’s actually a brother or sister.
While it follows the same preparation method, what makes it different is the use of brown sugar rather instead of white, and plain milk instead of cream. (The other ingredients common to both are butter and vanilla).
For both penuche and fudge:
A fat-sugar solution is heated to the soft ball stage, 236°F.
The solution is set aside to cool to lukewarm, about 110°F.
Flavorings are added and the solution is beaten until thick. Mix-ins (nuts, M&Ms, etc.) are added.
The mixture is poured into a pan, allowed to cool until semi-hard, and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Using milk instead of cream gives the confection a lighter body. Over time, some cooks substituted evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk in their preparation.
In recent years, a version with maple syrup has surfaced in New England. With the popularity of salted caramels, versions have appeared topped with a layer of chocolate fudge and sea salt (a great idea, by the way).
Penuche has a tannish color, a result of the caramelization. Caramelization also engenders a more complex sugar flavor, with notes of butterscotch or caramel.
You may encounter penuche with different spellings: panocha, penocha, penochi, panucci, pinuche and penuchi, among others.
In the Southern United States, it is called creamy praline fudge, and brown sugar fudge candy.
Penuche is very similar to a Québec confection called sucre à la crème (cream sugar), a holiday season tradition.
A cousin is the southern praline, which is made by boiling brown sugar, butter and cream and cooked to a soft-ball stage like penuche, but filled with pecans and spooned onto wax paper to form patties.
An ancestor is Scottish tablet.
An adaption is penuche frosting, a brown sugar boiled icing flavor. It is popular with spice cakes and versions with prunes and other dried fruits (photo #5).
Ready to make some penuche?
RECIPE: CLASSIC PENUCHE
Nuts add another flavor dimension, and can be larger pieces or chopped to your desired consistency.
You may note that some recipes add corn syrup to prevent crystallization. But if you’re planning to scarf these within a few days, it’s not an issue.
2 cups light brown sugar
2/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter plus more to grease the pan
1 cup chopped pecans (substitute walnuts)
1. LIGHTLY BUTTER an 8×8-inch pan and set aside.
2. COMBINE the sugar and milk in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, let the temperature rise to the soft-ball stage, 236°F.
3. REMOVE the pan from heat. Add butter but do not stir. Set aside to cool to lukewarm, 110°F.
4. ADD the vanilla and beat until the mixture is smooth, thick and creamy. Add the nuts and pour into the prepared pan. When set, cut into squares.
For comparison, here’s a recipe for penuche made with condensed milk.