Recipes » New England Penuche Fudge

New England Penuche Fudge

Penuche fudge, aka brown sugar fudge, contains just six ingredients, but it isn’t for the faint at heart to prepare. This one requires a little extra attention. For example, don’t allow meddling spouses or family members in the kitchen while you’re cooking because if they stir it when they shouldn’t, they’ll ruin the texture!

Like praline candy that is often found in shops in New Orleans, Penuche fudge is primarily a regional confection found in New England and a few places in Southern parts of the United States. Penuche is derived from the Spanish word for raw sugar known as Panocha. It’s thought to have been made popular by the Portuguese whaling families that settled in New Bedford, MA, and Essex CT in the mid to late 1700s.

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In New England, it’s common to add Maple syrup or maple sugar to the recipe, where it’s sometimes referred to as maple syrup penuche fudge. In either case, the texture of Penuche fudge is quite smooth, not grainy at all. It has a rich caramel-like flavor and the texture changes slightly when pecans or walnuts are added.

We’re sharing three tried and true, delectable penuche fudge recipes below, based on cooking ability. If you’re new to making fudge, we recommend the no-fail version. It’s by far the most forgiving to achieve the perfect texture and flavor. If you know your way around the kitchen and this isn’t your first rodeo, you’ll love our traditional Penuche and Maple versions.

  1. No-Fail Penuche Fudge (perfect for beginners & busy folks)
  2. Traditional Penuche aka Brown Sugar Fudge
  3. Maple Penuche (a New England Fave)

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How to Make Traditional Penuche Fudge

You’ll want to use a heavy, high-sided 3-quart saucepan. Combine brown sugar, white sugar, and milk.

traditional penuche fudge step 1

Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. As the mixture is coming to a boil, it should be stirred continuously, but once it reaches a boil, STOP stirring.
traditional penuche fudge step 2

Continue cooking without stirring until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (235 degrees F on a candy thermometer), then remove it from the heat.

traditional penuche fudge step 3
Not quite there yet, keep boiling!

Add the vanilla and the butter, but do not stir the mixture!
traditional penuche fudge step 4

Allow the mixture to cool, without stirring, completely undisturbed until it reaches 110 degrees F and the exterior of the pan feels lukewarm to the touch, about 35-40 minutes.
traditional penuche fudge step 5

While the mixture is cooling, generously butter an 8-inch-square pan. Once the mixture reaches, 110F beat it with a wooden spoon until it becomes thick and begins to lose its gloss.
traditional penuche fudge step 6

Quickly stir in the pecans, and pour into the pan. being careful not to scrape the sides, as doing so will add in the unwanted sugar crystals, which will ruin the texture of your finished fudge.
traditional penuche fudge step 7
The crystals are affectionately known as the cooks share. Usually, we just devour these while we wait for the fudge to set. Store the fudge between layers of waxed paper in vacuum seal bags or airtight containers.

Let the fudge cool completely, cut into 1-1/2-inch squares with a sharp knife, and enjoy.
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