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RECIPE: Blueberry Pie With Purple Crust

Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie
[1] and [2] Have some fun with your pie crusts (photo courtesy Dulce Delight).

Carton Of Blueberries
[3] You can make the crust in different colors (photo courtesy Balducci’s).

Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter

[4] Vermont Creamery’s European-Style Butter has 86% butterfat, compared to 80% with most supermarket brands (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

 

We came across this purple crust on the website of Vermont Creamery, producers of some of the most splendid goat cheese and butter on earth.

The colored crust, by Raiza Costa of the Dulce Delight online video series, is a “first” for us, excepting green bagels and donuts for St. Patrick’s Day and some very festive rainbow churros for Pride Week.

RECIPE: RAIZA COSTA’S PURPLE PIE CRUST

The crust becomes purple by adding food color to the water used to make the dough; the dough is made in a food processor. A food processor breaks up the cold butter more quickly and evenly. Raiza also recommends the highest-fat butter possible, and uses the 86% fat cultured butter from Vermont Creamery.

Raiza uses her own homemade food color; here’s her article on how to make different food colors. But you can use a commercial food color like McCormick’s, in a proportion of 10 drops red to 5 drops blue; or a purple paste/gel.

To thicken a fruit filling, Raiza prefers potato starch over flour or cornstarch.

Here’s her video.
 
Ingredients For A Nine-Inch Pie

For The Crust

  • 3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the crust
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 17 tablespoons highest fat* unsalted butter (2 sticks + 1 tablespoon, or 240g), cut into even pieces
  • 6–8 tablespoons cold water or cold
  • Natural food coloring (e.g. blackberry juice) or other food coloring
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 2 pints fresh blueberries (4 cups, 30 ounces or 850g), washed and patted dry
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of nutmeg and pinch of allspice (substitute cinnamon, fresh grated from a cinnamon stick)
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons potato starch
  •  
    ________________
    *Look for European Style butter, such as the 86% cultured butter from Vermont Creamery. Commercial butter in the U.S. is 80%. More fat means creamier mouthfeel and moister crust.
    ________________
    Preparation

    1. MIX the flour, sugar and salt and add to a food processor.

    2. ADD the butter and pulse one second at a time until you see crumbs the size of the pea; stop processing.

    3. ADD the food coloring and spread the color through the dough, but do not overwork (overworked dough gets tough and is less flaky). Divide the dough into 2 balls, flatten and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. While the dough chills…

    4. MAKE the filling. Combine the blueberries, sugar and spices in a large bowl with the lemon juice and zest; blend and then stir in the potato starch.

     

    5. PREPARE the lattice top on a parchment sheet. Spank the dough, then roll out to a 10″ round for a 9″ pie pan. Cut into even stripes with a ruler. LIFT every other stripe, then place the alternative stripes horizontally, threading them in and out (see the video). You can do this ahead of time and freeze the lattice until you need it. It keeps its shape when place it on top of the pie and peel off the parchment.

    6. ROLL the bottom crust over a rolling pin and roll it out over the pie plate; try not to use too much flour. Carefully pat down the bottom and sides. Add the filling and cover with pats of butter.

    7. LAY the lattice over the filling and butter pats, and roll the edges of the bottom crust to crimp together with the top crust. Refrigerate.

    8. PREHEAT the oven to 500°F. Place the pie on the bottom rack and lower the heat to 425°F. Once the crust gets golden brown which is hard to see on a purple crust), lower the heat to 327°F and bake approximately 35 minutes until the filling bubbles.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Fried Green Tomatoes & Savory French Toast With Tomatoes

    We haven’t read the novel, Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistlestop Cafe.

    But in the film, while green tomatoes are fried up, we (a northerner and fan of heirloom tomatoes) missed a technical point.

    We didn’t realize that the green tomatoes were fried because they were not yet ripe. Plucked off the vine green (photo #2) and dredged in cornmeal, they were a treat.

    We initially thought that they were Green Zebra heirloom tomatoes (photo #1).

    So, tomato growers: Take some of your green guys and fry them up! (And those who want to know more about Green Zebra tomatoes: Here it is.)

    Fried green tomatoes are typically served as a side dish; in the South, with fried chicken. We enjoy them with grilled chicken and fish. We’ve been adding them to grilled cheese sandwiches, too, and highly recommend it.

    When fresh red tomatoes aren’t great—which is the case for much of the year—fry them up and add to green salads.

    McCormick serves fried green tomatoes with buttermilk chipotle dressing, or topped with lump crabmeat and Creole mustard—a nice first course.

    Ready to fry some green tomatoes?

    RECIPE #1: FRIED GREEN TOMATOES

    This is the classic southern recipe (photo #3): buttermilk, cornmeal and green tomatoes (photo #2).

    Use a heavy skillet. Some recipes we’ve read recommend the even heat of an electric skillet.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 medium-size green tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch slices
  • Vegetable oil*
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional garnish: minced fresh parsley or basil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the egg and buttermilk; set aside.

    2. COMBINE 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, the cornmeal, salt, and pepper, in a shallow bowl or pan.

    3. DREDGE the tomato slices in the remaining 1/4 cup flour. Dip in the egg mixture and dredge in cornmeal mixture.

    4. ADD the oil to a large cast-iron skillet, to a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Heat it to 375°F.

    5. DROP the tomatoes, in batches, into the hot oil. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels or on a rack.

    6. SPRINKLE the hot tomatoes with salt, if desired. (We served flaky salt on the table.)
    ________________

    *Some recipes add bacon grease. If you have it, substitute three tablespoons bacon grease for an equal amount of oil.
    ________________
     
     
    RECIPE #2: SAVORY FRENCH TOAST WITH TOMATO SALAD

    Don’t want to fry your tomatoes? Then treat yourself to the gourmet’s green tomatoes: Green Zebras (photos #1 and #6), in a tomato salad.

    And, use the salad as a garnish for French Toast. Save the maple syrup for post-tomato-season.

    Look for Green Zebras in farmers markets. The season is fleeting, so enjoy as many of these (and other heirloom tomatoes) as you can.

       

    Green Zebra Tomatoes
    [1] Heirloom Green Zebra tomatoes, which remain green when ripe, are not meant to be fried, but to be enjoyed raw (photo courtesy Rare Seeds).

    Green Tomato On Vine
    [2] Green tomatoes that have not yet ripened to red are used to make fried green tomatoes (photo courtesy Chrissi Nerantzi | SXC).

    Fried Green Tomatoes
    [3] Cornmeal + tomatoes + skillet = fried green tomatoes (photo and recipe courtesy McCormick).

    Fried Green Tomatoes With Crab Meat

    [4] A first course: fried green tomatoes with lump crab and mustard sauce. Here’s the recipe from McCormick.

     

    Savory French Toast Recipe
    [5] Top French Toast with a green tomato salad (photo courtesy Quinciple).

    Green Zebra Tomatoes
    [6] Use Green Zebra heirloom tomatoes for a salad…including atop French Toast.

    Monte Cristo Sandwich

    [7] Monte Cristo sandwich (photo courtesy Kikkoman).

     

    This recipe is actually a grilled cheese hybrid. Instead of brushing bread with butter before grilling, the bread is dipped in “French Toast” batter: eggs and milk. Serve it for breakfast or lunch.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: 3-4 dashes hot sauce
  • 4 thick slices bread
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 slices cheese (mozzarella, cheddar or any good melting cheese—we used gruyère)
  • 2 green or heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • ½ tablespoon chopped parsley
  • ½ tablespoon chopped chives
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot or red onion
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK the eggs, milk, hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste in a shallow bowl. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture on both sides until fully coated and set aside.

    2. HEAT the butter in a large pan over medium heat and add the bread slices, cooking until golden brown. Flip the bread and cook on the other side until golden brown and cooked through.

    3. TURN off the heat and top each slice with some cheese; cover the pan to let the cheese melt. Meanwhile…

    4. TOSS together the tomatoes, parsley, chives, olive oil, vinegar, shallot and seasoning to taste. Divide the French Toast between two plates and top with the tomato salad.
     
    MORE SAVORY FRENCH TOAST RECIPES
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF FRENCH TOAST

    The dish known in America as French Toast has roots at least as far back as ancient Rome, where it was a sweet dish. In fact, pain perdu (lost bread), the current French name for the dish, was once called pain à la romaine, or Roman bread.

    While the story evolved that French Toast was a food of the poor, trying to scrape together a meal from stale bread—and that may also be true—recipes from ancient and medieval times denote that it was fare for wealthy people.

     
    Recipes used white bread, a luxury affordable only by the rich, with the crusts cut off. Poor people ate brown bread, which was much cheaper because the wheat endosperm did not have to be milled and painstakingly hand-sifted through screens to create the vastly more expensive white flour.

    (That’s right: The more nutritious whole grain brown bread was looked down on as food for the poor. To the thinking of the time, white bread was more “pure” and “elegant.” The same pattern was true in Asia, with white rice for the rich and brown rice for the poor.)

    When the wealthy discovered how tasty the dish was, costly ingredients such as spices (cinnamon, cloves, mace and nutmeg), sugar and almond milk appeared in the batter of numerous recipes. The cooked bread was topped with costly honey or sugar.

    Thus attests old cookbooks. Cookbooks themselves were the province of the privileged: Only wealthy people and the clergy learned to read.

    More recently, French Toast has evolved into a savory sandwich, the Monte Cristo. It is an evolution of the croque-monsieur, a crustless sandwich of ham and Gruyère cheese, buttered and lightly browned on both sides in a skillet or under a broiler.

    The Croque-Monsieur was invented in Paris in 1910. A variation with a baked egg on top is called a Croque-Madame. Neither sandwich was battered, like French Toast.

    The Monte Cristo sandwich (photo #7), a triple-decker sandwich, battered and pan-fried, was invented at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. According to the L.A. Times, the first recipe in print is in the Brown Derby Cookbook, published in 1949.

    Here’s the recipe so you can try it for lunch—although probably not on the same day you have French Toast for breakfast.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Bagelfest Day & The History Of Bagels

    Perhaps we should have saved this post, published a few months ago, for today, because…

    July 26th is National Bagelfest Day, the perfect day for that article, which features delicious bagels with different savory and sweet spreads and toppings—including those off the beaten path.

    So if you want a true bagelfest, check out the article. Today, we’ll make the record clear on the history of bagels.
     
     
    BAGEL HISTORY

    One legend traces the history of the bagel to the shape of a stirrup, to commemorate the victory of Poland’s King Jan Sobieski over the Ottoman Turks in 1683’s Battle Of Vienna. This is not true.

    It mirrors another legend of the creation of another popular bread that allegedly commemorates this battle: the croissant.

    The story is that the croissant was shaped for the crescent in the Turkish flag; that is to say, to symbolically eat the Turks. Here’s the real history of the croissant.

    What is it with these legends regarding bread and the Battle Of Vienna?

    The bagel was actually invented much earlier in Kraków, Poland, as an alternative (some would say, improvement) on the bublik, a traditional Polish-Russian roll that’s also very close to the Turkish simit (photo #3), and which some historians call the ur-bagel.

    It looks like a sibling of the bagel, but with a much bigger hole and a recipe to make it even denser and chewier than the bagel that emigrated to New York.

    The bublik was originally designed for Lent, but in the 16th century began to become a staple of the Polish diet.

    The bagel was evolution, not revolution. Other countries also had round, individual-serving breads with a hole in the middle (the hole was used for convenience in delivery (strung through with a string) and space-saving at stores and homes. They were also stacked on poles and hawked in the market place).

    Examples include Greek koulouri (with sesame seeds), Finnish vesirinkeli, and ciambella in Puglia, Italy.

    The first documentation of the bagel is in a 1610 list of sumptuary laws.

    Many food historians believe that bagel originated from the German word beugal, now spelled bügel, which has numerous meanings, including stirrup and ring.

    But why? Two explanations:

  • Traditional handmade bagels are not perfectly circular but slightly stirrup-shaped, a function of how the bagels are pressed together on the baking sheet.
  • Variants of the word beugal are used in Yiddish and Austrian German to describe a round loaf of bread.
  •  
     
    How Bagels Are Made

    Yeasted wheat dough is traditionally shaped by hand into a ring shape, around four inches in diameter. In the U.S. today, they are supersized. Measure the next bagel you buy!

    With true bagels, the rings are then boiled in water for about a minute. This sets the crust, resulting in the firm, shiny crust of a true bagel.

    The longer the boil, the more dense and chewy the interiors—along with the use of high-protein flour to make the dough.

    They then get pressed face down in the seeds or other toppings. These days, there are also different dough types such as bran, oat, pumpernickel, rye, whole-grain and gluten-free.
     
     
    Bagels Arrive In America

    Bagels came to the United States with Eastern European Jews, who began to immigrate to the United States in significant numbers after 1880.

       

    National Bagelfest DayBagelfest
    [1] Make your own bagelfest! A luscious bagelfest from Arla Cheese.

    Bagel Smoked Salmon
    [2] Got smoked salmon? They have it at Good Eggs.

    Simit Vs. Bagel

    [3] A comparison of bagel and simit, the latter considered the ur-bagel (photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE).

     
    However, they didn’t eat them with cream cheese and lox, but with schmaltz (rendered chicken fat—here’s a recipe) and herring. Modern cream cheese wasn’t invented until 1872, in the U.S.(cream cheese history).

    Lox wasn’t known by Eastern European Jews until Jewish immigrants met Scandinavian immigrants [source].

    Bagel bakeries thrived, and by the early 1900s in New York City, they were controlled by Bagel Bakers Local 338, which had contracts to supply bagel bakeries in and around the city for the workers who prepared all the bagels by hand.

    Bagel bakeries were soon found in major cities with large Jewish populations, in Canada as well as the U.S. They became a mainstream food in the last quarter of the 20th century, partly due to the efforts of the second generation at Lender’s Bakery in New Haven, Connecticut.

    The son of the founder, Murray Lender, pioneered automated production and distribution of pre-sliced frozen bagels 1960.

    [NOTE: We don’t know what Lender’s Bagels were like before the frozen variety, but these bagels are nothing like New York bagels. The consistency was/is more like a white bread rolls in a bagel shape. They are soft and doughy, and lack true bagel flavor. Unfortunately, this style became the template for many bagels produced in America, and what many Americans think of as bagels.]

    While early bagels were plain or poppy, they evolved in the 1960s to other popular flavors, like garlic, salt and sesame. The cinnamon-raisin bagel appeared in the mid-1950s.

    Can’t decide? Have it all (mostly) on an everything bagel (here’s the history of the everything bagel, which debuted around 1980).

    Cream cheese rose to the occasion, appearing in flavors like pimento, olive and smoked salmon.

    And bagels became not just breakfast bread, but sandwich bread for lunch. Not to mention that double-comfort food, the pizza bagel.

    By the turn of the 21st century, you could get a blueberry bagel, cheddar bagel, a jalapeño bagel…any bagel your heart desires. And just about any flavor of cream cheese, too.

    More recently, bagels headed into space with Canadian-born astronaut Gregory Chamitoff, who took a batch of bagels on his 2008 Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station. What did he take? Eighteen sesame seed bagels. The record does not say if he brought cream cheese or lox.

    ________________

    *It is made in most of Central and Eastern Europe.

     

    Bagel With Walnut Raisin Spread

    [4] Raisin-walnut spread from Eat Wisconsin Cheese. The trade organization created a lighter version of a cream cheese, raisin and walnut spread by using half cottage cheese. But you can go full cream cheese.

     

    RECIPE: SWEET AND CRUNCHY CREAM CHEESE SPREAD

    If you like raisin bagels, or raisin and walnut cream cheese, here’s a spread to match from Eat Wisconsin Cheese.

    It’s made lighter by substituting cottage cheese for part of the cream cheese. Or, you can substitute cream cheese for the cottage cheese.

    Ingredients For 2-1/2 Cups

  • 1 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in medium bowl, using a spoon or electric mixer. Blend well.

    2. COVER and chill 4 hours or overnight, for the flavors to meld. Serve with toasted bagels, toast or muffins.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 12+ Other Uses For Trail Mix

    August 31st is National Trail Mix Day, but we’re jumping the gun with today’s tip.

    Trail mix is a popular grab-and-go snack. Leave out the chocolate chips (substitute toffee chips or M&Ms), and it’s a great hot-weather grab-and-go.

    It’s also fun to make your own creative blend of ingredients.

    12+ USES FOR EXTRA (LEFTOVER) TRAIL MIX

    Turn trail mix leftovers into:

  • Baking: Mix into brownies, cookies, loaf cake (carrot bread, zucchini bread), muffins (toppings or mixed into batter); make granola bars.
  • Beverages: Garnish whipped cream on hot chocolate, milk shakes, smoothies; serve in ramekins with hot or cold drinks.
  • Breakfast Cereal: Top cold or hot cereal, overnight oats, pancakes and waffles (garnish and/or batter ingredient).
  • Breakfast Dairy: Top yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • Candy: Mix into homemade chocolate bark.
  • Dessert: Garnish cupcakes, fruit salad, iced carrot cake, pudding, zucchini bread.
  • Ice cream: Top frozen yogurt, ice cream, sorbet.
  • Party favor: Set up a “trail mix bar” and let guests mix their own, to go.
  • Salad: Garnish green salads.
  • Salad: Mix into protein salads (egg, chicken, tuna).
  • Sandwich: Top a cream cheese, jelly sandwich or peanut butter sandwich; a cream cheese bagel; mild grilled cheese (e.g. Brie) or goat cheese sandwich.
  • Side: Mix into a grain salad (for a trail mix without candy).
  • Snack: Toss with popcorn (recipe below).
  •  
     
    RECIPE: SPICY TRAIL MIX POPCORN

    This recipe is adapted from Walnuts.org. Here are more recipes incorporating cheese, peanut butter and other ingredients.

    Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 to 2 teaspoon kosher salt (use the lesser amount if using lightly salted popcorn)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups trail mix
  • 9 cups freshly popped unsalted popcorn, see instructions below
  • 1 cup dried cherries, cranberries, golden raisins or other colorful dried fruit
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper or no-stick aluminum foil; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the egg whites in a large bowl with the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, cayenne, cumin, curry, salt, and pepper. Whisk until very well combined.

    3. ADD the trail mix and toss well to coat completely. Add the popcorn and toss until the popcorn is well-speckled with the granola mixture. You will still see a lot of the white popcorn, but that’s O.K.

    4. TRANSFER the mixture to the prepared baking tray; spread it out over the entire sheet. Bake until the coating is dry and the popcorn is crisp, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

    5. ADD the raisins and mix well. You can stored the popcorn in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

     

    Trail Mix On Waffles
    [1] Top pancakes and waffles (photo courtesy Sierra Trading Post).

    Smoothie With Trail Mix
    [2] Top a smoothie. Here’s the recipe for this chocolate breakfast smoothie from Natural Comfort Kitchen.

    Yogurt With Trail Mix
    [3] Here’s the recipe from Natural Comfort Kitchen (with homemade yogurt).

    Popcorn Trail Mix
    [4]Is it trail mix popcorn, or popcorn with trail mix. Here’s the recipe from Delicious Meets Healthy.

     
    HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN TRAIL MIX

    Mix and match:

  • Candy: carob chips, chocolate chips/chunks, crystallized ginger, mini marshmallows, M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, toffee, yogurt clusters
  • Cereal: Cheerios, Chex, Corn Flakes, graham cracker cereal, Grape Nuts, mini shredded wheat, rolled oats
  • Dried fruits: apples, apricots, banana chips, blueberries, candied orange peel (gourmet!), coconut, dates, dried cherries and cranberries (our favorites!), dried mango, figs, raisins
  • Exotica: crystallized ginger, Japanese rice crackers, jerky bits, sesame sticks, wasabi peas
  • Nuts almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts or other favorite (chop large nuts into chunks)
  • Savory: freeze-dried edamame, peas or veggie chips; pretzels, mini crackers, roasted chickpeas, soy beans or soy nuts, wasabi peas
  • Seeds: chia, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds
  •  
     
    THE HISTORY OF TRAIL MIX

      

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    RECIPE: Penuche, A Brown Sugar Confection Like Fudge

    Penuche
    [1] Penuche, an old-fashioned brown sugar treat. Here’s the recipe from Endlessly Inspired.

    Nut Free Penuche
    [2] Nut-free penuche. Here’s the recipe from Fearless Fresh.

    Chocolate Sea Salt Penuche
    [3] What could make it better? Some chocolate and sea salt. Here’s the recipe from Rook No.17.

    Piloncillo

    [4] 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.

    Ingredients

  • 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)
  • Candy thermometer
  •  
    Preparation

    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.

    Variation

    For comparison, here’s a recipe for penuche made with condensed milk.

     

    PENUCHE HISTORY

    While brown sugar-based fudge existed previously, penuche appears to have originated in New England. Brown sugar, light or dark, provides a hint of molasses that yields a spicier, richer flavor than regular white sugar.

    The difference between a lighter and darker tan color is light versus dark brown sugar. A dark brown sugar recipe has more of a molasses taste.

    While the origin of penuche isn’t known for certain, it looks like a descendant of a Scottishconfection called tablet.

    We’ve pieced together some background.

  • Some sources claim the idea for penuche fudge originated in 1924, made by or for a Boston Bruins player named Mark Penuche. However, we could find no record of a Mark Penuche online [source].
  • Penuche is a Mexican Spanish word for raw sugar. According to MexGrocer.com, panela or penuche, raw brown sugar, can be purchased in panocha (chunks) or piloncillo (a tall cone shape—photo #4), and is “a delicious ingredient to prepare Mexican desserts.”
  • Another historical link is to Scottish tablet, a fudge-like treat with a caramel flavor, made from boiling butter, condensed milk and sugar. Boiled sweets are a Scotch tradition dating to the 1600s when sugar was first imported from the West Indies.
  • Scottish tablet was first mentioned in a household account book in the 18th century owned by Lady Grisell Baillie and it’s caramel buttery taste is still loved above all other confections in Scotland, to this day [source]. Here’s a recipe for Scottish tablet.
     
    Wherever the origin of penuche may lie, it became a New England favorite in the 1920s, and subsequently migrated to fudge counters across the country.

    Now that you have the recipe, try some!
     
     
    FOOD TRIVIA: FUDGE

    Fudge was an accident, the result of an attempt to make caramels. And what a happy accident!

    Here’s the history of fudge.

  •  

    Penuche Frosting
    [5] Brown sugar frosting, popular with spice cakes, is called penuche frosting. Here’s the recipe from Cafe Johnsonia.

    Scottish Tablet

    [6] Scottish tablet seems to be the closest relative to penche. Here’s the recipe from London Eats.

     

      

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