Carmelly, sweet, dense brown sugar fudge is such a soothing old-fashioned treat and so easy to make at home. There is nothing about fudge that doesn’t feel sweet.
Obviously, the flavor is definitely sweet, but also the nostalgic nature of the candy and the fact that I associate it with being on vacation. Fudge doesn’t cross my path all that often unless I’m in a place where souvenirs are being sold and there are ice cream shops on every block.
This is also a naturally gluten-free dessert recipe. Also, try the uber-classic, old-fashioned chocolate fudge, and maybe make a combo for holiday gifting.
Table of Contents
Brown Sugar Fudge: Also know as penuche, this soft, creamy dense treat is a lovely sweet alternative to traditional chocolate fudge.Tweet This
- Brown sugar – Don’t be tempted to sub in all white sugar for the brown sugar in this recipe. In some baking recipes, you can swap around brown and white sugar, but in brown sugar fudge, you need the molasses in the brown sugar to add to the caramelization, the density, and the deep, more rounded flavor.
- Granulated sugar – Adds lighter sweetness to this recipe.
- Heavy cream – Makes this fudge super creamy and rich.
- Light corn syrup – The structure of the corn syrup helps to prevent the sugar from crystallizing and making the fudge grainy.
- Kosher salt – Gives balance to all the sweetness in this recipe.
- Unsalted butter – Adds to the creaminess richness.
- Vanilla extract
- Chopped nuts – Nuts or no nuts? Up to you! I’m allergic, so no nuts for me, but you can add chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, or pecans, which are popular down South in brown sugar fudge or penuche.
What Is Penuche?
Sometimes, brown sugar fudge is called penuche. Penuche is a wonderfully old-fashioned word, a candy popular in the New England area and some areas in the South. You might also find this type of fudge/candy called brown sugar candy or even creamy praline fudge (in the South).
The cooks and folks in the South do love everything praline-like, which is basically caramelized sugar and nuts together. If you have ever been to the touristy area of Savannah, you will see praline stores lined up in practically every other building.
How to Make Brown Sugar Fudge
- Cook to soft ball stage: Butter a baking pan and set it aside. Combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, heavy cream, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until it reaches 238 degrees F on a thermometer. This is the soft ball stage, meaning the sugar is cooked to the temperature where it will be firm but still soft when cooled. See below for how to test the temperature without a thermometer.
- Add other ingredients: Stir in the butter. Then, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool to 120 degrees. Once cool, stir in the vanilla and the nuts if using.
- Cool: Pour the fudge into the pan. Cool on the counter or in the fridge. Cut into pieces and store, or serve immediately!
Penuche is also called brown sugar fudge, brown sugar candy, or creamy praline fudge. The difference between penuche and old-fashioned fudge is that penuche has a more caramel-like flavor, which comes from brown sugar, while fudge is typically flavored with chocolate.
There are a few problems that can cause grainy fudge: not adding enough corn syrup, overcooking, and stirring too early are some of the biggest issues.
– The corn syrup helps prevent too much crystallization during the cooking process, so don’t skip it, as this may result in grainy fudge.
– Overcooking, that is, cooking beyond 238 degrees, will cause the sugars to reach a stage where they become hard when cooled. This means the fudge will be gritty instead of chewy.
– Lastly, you can prevent graininess by trying not to stir too much. In the beginning stage, when the fudge is heating up to soft ball stage, and after the fudge is removed from the stove to cool to 120 degrees, do not stir it! This can cause the sugars to crystallize too early and will ruin the texture of the fudge.
Penuche is a name for brown sugar fudge. The term is most often used in New England and in the American South. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the name is attributed to the word panocha, which means raw sugar in Mexican Spanish. Presumably, the brown sugar treat was at some point associated with Mexican raw sugar, perhaps in the South.
What is the Soft-Ball Stage in Making Candy?
Soft-ball stage refers to a narrow temperature range used when cooking sugar syrups, specifically between 235 and 245 degrees F. This is most easily and accurately measured with a candy thermometer, BUT if you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can still determine when this temperature range has been reached.
- Fill a small bowl with very cold water.
- Drop a very small spoonful of the hot syrup into the water. Stick your fingers into the water and gather the cooled syrup into a ball. If it has reached soft-ball stage, the syrup should easily hold its ball shape, though it should squish when removed from the water.
When not completely cooled and beaten well, penuche can also be used as a frosting for a cake. I’m thinking it would be amazing on a carrot cake, and that experiment will be coming down the pike.
Back in the Day Brown Sugar Fudge
This recipe hails from talented cooks and bakers Cheryl Day and Griffith Day, the loveliest couple who own Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, GA. They have written two cookbooks, Back in the Day Bakery and Back in the Day Bakery: Made with Love. Both books are filled with the kind of recipes that make you feel nostalgic and hungry all at the same time, especially if you grew up anywhere in the South. The name of their bakery is hardly an accident.
Brown sugar fudge or penuche will last for 2 weeks in a tightly sealed container at room temperature or in the fridge. It can also be frozen for up to 4 months, tightly wrapped.
What to Serve With Brown Sugar Fudge
More Old-Fashioned Dessert Recipes
Like this recipe? Pin it to your favorite board on Pinterest.Pin This
Brown Sugar Fudge
- 2 cups light or dark brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
- Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, heavy cream, corn syrup, and salt and heat over medium heat, stirring to dissolve e the sugar. Insert a candy thermometer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 238 F (this is known as the soft ball stage: see Note), which will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful that the mixture doesn’t boil up and over the sides of the pan; a little bubbling is fine.
- Add the butter and stir until melted and blended in, then remove the pan from the heat and let it stand without stirring at all until the mixture has cooled to lukewarm, about 120 F).
- Beat in the vanilla until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Fold in the nuts, if using. Pour the fudge into the prepared pan and let cool completely. If your kitchen is quite warm, you might want to let it cool in the fridge.
- Once the fudge has set, cut it into 1-inch pieces with a thin sharp knife. Store in an airtight container for up to a week or in the fridge if it’s not all that cool in your kitchen. Let come to room temp just before serving.
- Soft-ball stage refers to a narrow temperature range used when cooking sugar syrups, specifically between 235 degrees and 245 degrees F. This is most easily and accurately measured with a candy thermometer, BUT if you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can still determine when this temperature range has been reached. Fill a small bowl with very cold water. Drop a very small spoonful of the hot syrup into the water. Stick your fingers into the water and gather the cooled syrup into a ball. If it has reached soft-ball stage, the syrup should easily hold its ball shape, though it should squish when removed from the water.
- Brown sugar fudge or penuche will last for 2 weeks in a tightly sealed container at room temperature or in the fridge. It can also be frozen for up to 4 months, tightly wrapped.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.