This old fashioned Penuche Fudge recipe is a delicious, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth candy made with just 5 ingredients! Slightly adapted from a Yankee Magazine recipe.
Penuche Fudge: a delectable, buttery, creamy, melt-in-yo-mouth, candy made with sugar, sugar, and more sugar.
Plus some milk, a little butter and pure vanilla extract.
It tastes like absolute heaven but will make you go into a three day sugar coma if you eat more than two pieces.
That is the actual Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition, no kidding.
Go look it up. I'll wait right here while eating a piece of this fudge.
What is Penuche Fudge?
Penuche fudge came into my life when I first moved to the New England area.
My first thought was that the taste is very similar to pralines, but the texture is different.
This fudge is softer, smoother, and creamier than any praline I've ever eaten.
I was curious, to say the least, about this newfound sweet of mine and had never heard of it or encountered it back home in South Florida.
To be honest, I don't remember having any kind of fudge in the Sunshine State.
I guess fudge just ain't a Florida thang.
A fudge recipe using real milk
Back to this delicious penchue fudge recipe, while searching for a recipe, I was determined to find one that didn't use canned condensed milk.
Not that I have anything against condensed milk. Well, I kind of do, if it's not an all-natural brand.
For this recipe, I wanted to use the fresh humanely raised, organic, grass-fed raw milk that I get from a family owned dairy farm down the street from me.
Doing a little internet research (thanks Google!), I found this recipe from Yankee Magazine that uses regular milk.
It's a fantastic recipe and the only thing I changed was leave out the pecans.
Nuts or no nuts in fudge
Please note, I love pecans to death, but I like penuche fudge that's made with walnuts or just left plain.
The reason why is because that's the way I've eaten it in New England and I'm partial to it.
This is the best old fashioned penuche fudge recipe and is also very easy to make.
I did notice the Yankee Magazine instructions left out how the mixture can seize up on you quicker than you can say "WTF".
Which is exactly what I said when it happened to me.
Seriously, you will be standing there having a good old time, stirring the cooled down fudge and minding your own business, when all of a sudden...
BOOM!! It will become rock hard in a matter of a nanosecond.
Keep that in mind as you are a-stirring.
Hope you all have a wonderful Merry Christmas week and make lots of Penuche Fudge!
It's wonderful to eat as you're sitting in front of a fire, sipping on hot chocolate, and waiting on Santa to show up.
Did you like this penuche fudge recipe? Don't forget to leave a comment and share with friends and family.
Old Fashioned Penuche Fudge Recipe
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
optional: 1 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
- In a 3-quart saucepan combine both sugars and the milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, while stirring constantly. Once it reaches a boil, stop stirring the mixture (so fudge doesn't turn gritty).1 cup light brown sugar, 2 cups granulated white sugar, 1 cup whole milk
- Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking mixture, without stirring, until it reaches the soft-ball stage, 236F/113C degrees.**If mixture is stirred after boiling and before cooling down, large sugar crystals will form and fudge will be gritty**
- Remove saucepan from the heat and add the butter and vanilla, but DO NOT STIR. Let the mixture cool without stirring until it reaches 110F/43C degrees. Start checking the temperature at 20 minutes and then check every 5 minutes, until it reaches 110F/43C.3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- While the mixture is cooling, butter an 8-inch-square pan. Set aside.
- Once the mixture has cooled down, beat with a wooden spoon until the butter is fully incorporated and mixture starts to thicken. Quickly pour the fudge into the buttered pan before it becomes too solid. ***If using optional 1 cup chopped nuts, quickly stir them into the fudge right before pouring into the prepared pan***
- Let cool completely before cutting into 1-inch squares. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Recipe Notes & Tips:
- Slightly adapted from Yankee Magazine's Pecan Penuche Fudge recipe
- The fudge is perfectly cooked when a small amount of the mixture is dropped into a bowl of cold water, forming a ball that can be easily picked up and flattened between the fingers
I've made the candy several times with your recipie but goofed this time. to hard and too sugared. my fault as was doing 2 things. also took off stove to late. so not sure what I can do but last batch was to die for!
Here is my mom's advice. Temperatures are set at sea level. 240 is soft ball sea level. You drop 1 degree for every 500 feet you are above sea level. I am in a very small level so my soft ball is 239. Maybe this will help some of the candy mom's having to redo their cooking. (Momma Irene 1914-2007, Dearly missed)
OMG you sure got a lot of well deserved comments. I grew up on penuche in the 1940's. My mom was a super cook and this recipe was one of her go-to's. I had quit making it but have been warned off eating chocolate (rosacea). Now this will become my favorite. I joined the survivors of the octogenerics. Thanks so much for publishing this.
By the time it cooled to 110F, it was too hard to beat the butter in. I just kept beating but it very quickly turned into chalky clumps that I then couldn’t pour into the dish. Suggestions?
Hi Kim, Fudge that turns hard and chalky is usually the result of overcooking the sugar and all the moisture is cooked out. You can put it back in the pan over low heat and add milk or water, slowly bring it back up to 236F, then cool it to 110F. Let me know how it turns out and happy holidays!
I never leave comments on recipes but I just had to for this one! Absolutely Devine!! Melts in your mouth as soon as it hits your tongue. I followed the entire recipe section by section easily and it turned out perfect! I do have to agree on the Boom! seizing up part but I'll know better for next time because there will definitely be a next time! Thank you for sharing!
Followed recipt exacrly and the finised product is much too soft. The only thing I'm thinking is that I didn't "beat" the butter in but perhaps just mixed it in? It didn't really start to become solid before I poured it into the pan. Your thoughts here much appreciated. The taste is phenomenal but the texture is soft. It also was very difficult to take out of the pan. The pieves stuvk to the bottom and broke apart.
Hi Patty, When fudge doesn't set up correctly it's usually because it's undercooked. You can put it back on the stovetop (with a little extra milk, if necessary) and slowly bring it back up to a boil to 236F, then cool it to 110F. Once it cools down to 110F, beat it with a wooden spoon until it's creamy and thickens up. Please let me know how that works for you!
Do you know what I need to do to adjust for high altitude??
Hi Katie, For each 1000 feet of altitude above sea level, subtract 2 degrees F. You also may want to check the accuracy of your thermometer by placing it in boiling water. At sea level, water boils at 212°F, so with each 500-feet increase in elevation, the boiling point of water is lowered by 1°F. Your thermometer should read lower than 212°F.
I've made this several times, slightly modified. Instead of white sugar, I use 2 cups maple syrup and the resulting fudge is divine!!!
I noticed that you said the the fudge would turn rock hard in a nanosecond. I'm not sure what I did wrong as I followed your instructions to a T so I thought. The fudge is not firming or getting hard. What did I do wrong? It's been 3 and a half hours.
Hi Maximilian, When fudge doesn't set up correctly it's usually because it's undercooked. You can put it back on the stovetop (with a little extra milk, if necessary) and slowly bring it back up to a boil to 236F, then cool it to 110F and beat it until it's creamy and thickens up. It's okay if it takes longer to cool the fudge, the most important thing is to make sure the mixture cools to 110F before beating the fudge so the sugar crystals are small and the fudge doesn't turn grainy. Please let me know how that works for you!
Excellent recipe. Thank you
Followed the recipe exactly and it came out amazing!
Love penuche and my Mom and I made it back in the 1940-50's.
The recipe was in a Children's Cookbook (it was 8-1/2 X 11, I sort of remember the cover and have been trying to find it); would love to find that recipe (and cookbook) again!
Pretty sure we did not have a candy thermometer - think we checked it by rolling little balls to see how they did.
My memory is really hazy, Any clues on that?
You must be referring to the cold water test, Linda. The fudge is perfectly cooked when a small amount of the mixture is dropped into a bowl of cold water, forming a ball that can be easily pickled up and flattened between the fingers. Let me know if you find that cookbook and recipe!
Didn't stir but fudge is grainy! What can I do?Sheri
Hi Sheri, It's possible all the sugar didn't melt before reaching a boil, but no worries, it's easy to correct. You can add some water and a little of the whole milk with the fudge in the pan, heat slowly over low heat until the fudge melts and is smooth, then bring it to the boil and continue to step 2 in the recipe. Please let me know if you have any additional questions and how it turns out.
I grew up with my grandmother making the regular fudge, my mother made divinity and nobody could make the penuche' without ruining it. I started making it about 45 years ago when I was a little girl and never had any trouble making it. Thankfully every batch I have made has turned out perfectly. It's always been my children's favorites.
It's called the soft ball stage.I never use a thermometer,old reliable soft ball stage has always worked for me.
yes linda wedid not have a thermometer either but dropped a bit of mixture intio a cup of COLD water.
Hello, do you know approximately how long it takes in minutes to cool from 236 to 110 degrees once removed from stove? Several minutes, 5-10 min., or more? Thank you so much. Also curious if you have tried with heavy cream or canned evaporated milk? I don't like to change recipes, it's more of what's on hand at the moment in a pinch. Have you ever used dark brown sugar or a combo of light and dark along with the granulated by chance? I've done that with cookies and the results are amazing. However, fudge is totally different so best to check first! Love your recipe and photo
Hello! It can take 20 minutes or more to cool, but it depends on many factors (i.e the temperature inside the house and outside, humidity levels, altitude, etc). Check the fudge after 20 minutes and then keep checking every 5 minutes until it reaches the temp. I haven't used cream or evaporated milk in it, but one of TEA's readers used cream and she said it was fine. Lots of fudge recipes use evaporated milk, since it's just milk with some of it's water content removed, but I've never tried it in this recipe. I haven't used dark brown sugar before and it does have more molasses in it than light brown sugar. I would think it would work fine, but it will probably change the taste of the fudge (not that that's a bad thing, it's just different) 🙂 Thank you for your kind comments on the recipe and my photos! Appreciate it!
do you think soy milk will work well? ^_^
Hi Brooklyn, Haven't tried it with soy milk, so unsure if it will turn out. This dairy free fudge site uses soy (https://www.dairy-free-fudge.com/FudgeFacts.aspx#Types_of_Milk) and she also uses oil instead of butter. I would use the same quantities in this recipe when subbing out the soy milk for the milk and oil for the butter (if you want it completely dairy free). Good luck and please let me know how it turns out with the soy milk.
I’ve been searching for Black Walnut Fudge recipe like my granny used to make. Family tradition has since passed down a recipe using white choc wafers and that is NOT the original recipe from when I was little lol.
So every year or so I search the internet trying to find a white Black Walnut Fudge.
Could this possibly be it??? Is penache exactly like a fudge...forgive me but I was raised by hillbillies lol
I like my fudge more on the slightly softer side, not crumbly. Do you just find your perfect temp and just cook it to that point? I’ve only made fudge maybe once or twice by myself.
Thanks so much....Merry Christmas y’all 🎄
Hi Rachel, Merry Christmas!! I've never heard this called black walnut fudge, but you could make it and add the black walnuts at the end before beating the fudge. Penuche is made with brown sugar and white sugar, unlike typical fudge which is made with just white sugar. If you do try this recipe and like your fudge more on the softer side, only cook it until 230F or 232F, then let it cool to 110F without stirring (if you stir it before it cools, it will be grainy). Once it cools to 110F, add the walnuts, then beat it until mixture thickens and put in a pan to fully set.
I’m so excited to make this. My great grandmother passed away when I was very young, but apparently made fudge and cookies every Christmas that my mom loved. My mom was never into baking, but every Christmas I love making a bunch of cookies and other deserts (must have gotten this from great grandma). My mom never got any of her grandmother’s recipes before she passed, but she did remember this fudge in particular, so this year I’m making it for her. Hope it brings back happy memories like it does for many others who commented!
So sweet Megan and hope you enjoy making it!
I'm not sure what to rate it. I love penuche fudge and just tried making it and I'm not sure if I did it correctly. maybe I used a pan that was too big t cook it in. took long time to cool down and wasn't very thick. didn't harden up fast like you said. so it's in the square pan now and I will see how it goes. any ideas or suggestions? I used the whole milk.
Hi Theresa, Did the fudge thicken after beating it? That's when it hardens up fast. If the fudge mixture doesn't thicken or is too soft, it's usually because it's undercooked. You can put it back on the stovetop and let it boil to 236F, then cool it to 110F and beat it until creamy and thickens. It's okay if it takes longer to cool the fudge, the most important thing is to make sure the mixture cools to 110F before beating the fudge so the sugar crystals are small and the fudge doesn't turn grainy. Please let me know how it worked out and hope you liked the flavor!
same fudge my mom used to make GREAT memories and now another restored tradition
I love it Linda and this warms my heart! I'm so very happy it's a restored tradition for you too 🙂
My grandma use to make Penuche but called it by another name. Now I am making if for the first time with my daughter. It is taking quite a bit longer than 20 mins to cool down to 110F after removing from the heat. Has anyone else had this problem? Can anyone tell me why this would take longer... closer to 45 mins!
Did your Grandmother call it "Brown Sugar Fudge"? I've heard it called that before. So sweet you are making this with your daughter, John! Several factors could contribute to it taking longer to cool, but it shouldn't be problem. Please let me know how it turned out and if you and your daughter liked the fudge. Happy Thanksgiving too!
Hi. I’m going to make this for the first time today. I don’t have unsalted butter. Will it change it too much if I use salted butter?
Hi Claudia, Using salted butter will be fine for the recipe. The salt flavor could come through a little in the fudge or you may not even notice it at all. Hope you enjoy making it today!
This is the first time I have made Penuche and I did something wrong. The flavor is good but it thickened faster than I had expected and now it is hard and crumbly. I used heavy cream because I didn't have whole milk so maybe that was part of the problem. Any suggestions?
Hi Jane, Hard and crumby fudge is usually a result of too much evaporation where the mixture was cooked for too long or at too high of a temperature. It could also be the mixture was beaten too much or it wasn't cooled down properly. You can salvage the fudge by putting it in a saucepan over low heat, add enough water to melt it, then bring back up to 236F/113C degrees. Hope that helps!
Hi Jane. I have made this before. Using heavy cream should not impact the outcome when using instead of whole milk. The main problem is to NOT stir the mixture when it boils and let it reach between 236 and 240 degrees before beating the vanilla in. It will require rapt attention . As it begins to LOSE ITS GLOSS while beating , quickly pour into the prepared dish and cool completely. It is so worth it to make this at home. Best fudge in the world!
I couldn’t stop eating this!
That's wonderful Sue and so happy you enjoyed the fudge!
Hi Karrie, got a request from my son to make him a batch and mail to him. Just wondering if they will make the trip across the country. What do you think?
Hi Susan, Your son has good taste. lol! Love that he wants you to send him some penuche fudge! On shipping, you want to protect the fudge from getting too hot and soft and possibility affecting the quality. Packaging it in a tin or hard plastic container, putting a small ice pack on the top or bottom (or both) of container, then wrapping that in bubble wrap or paper before placing in a shipping box would probably keep it at the right temp for it's journey. Please let me know if you have any questions about making the fudge and hope your son (and you) like it!
Going to make this afternoon. I absolutely love penuche fudge. I normally treat myself and have it delivered to me here in Florida from a fudge shop in New Hampshire. Its getting a bit expensive though 🤤 So I'm going to try to make it myself. Thanks so much for the recipe and I will let you know how it turns out.
One question though....you say to butter the 8 x 8 pan...is cooking spray ok or should I use some of the unsalted butter?
Hi Amy, hope you enjoy making the recipe and definitely let me know how it turns out for you! I'm sure the cooking spray would be fine, but I haven't tried it because I always use just butter. For your first time making this recipe, I would recommend using butter to grease the pan.
Hi, I made this first time for my dad, he's 92, and loves penuche. I accidentally stirred it after it boiled so sugar crystal's formed which made it gritty but my 13 yr old loved it after I made scoops with a cookie scooper and then melted 1 T coconut oil mixed with choc chips., microwaved and spooned over penuche balls. Presently, try trying again to make no gritty for dad, didnt stir this time after it boiled. Oh, and somehow it takes 1 and half hours to cool. Thanks for the recipe!!🤗
I LOVE your creatively with the chocolate covered penuche balls! That's brilliant! Please let me know how your second batch turned out and what your Dad thought of it.
Do you think I could use almond milk instead of whole milk? Thanks!
karrie @ Tasty Ever After
Hi Misti, My immediate thought was no because of the almond milk's high water/low fat content BUT just did a little research and now thinking this recipe might work. Found a dairy free fudge site (https://www.dairy-free-fudge.com/FudgeFacts.aspx#Types_of_Milk) and she also uses oil instead of butter. I would use the same quantities in this recipe when subbing out the almond milk for the milk and oil for the butter (if you want it completely dairy free). Good luck and please let me know how it turns out for you so I can update the recipe to include dairy free instruction!
Hi Karrie, I’ve never made fudge but used to live in Massachusetts and my dad missed it so I’d like to try this. Do you think whole milk is essential, as we usually have 2% in our house. Thanks!
Hi J K, I don't know if this recipe will turn out right if using anything other than whole milk. Using 2% will change the ratio of water to fat, so not sure if the fudge will set up properly. You could always try it and worse case should just be a softer fudge, but will still taste good 🙂 Please let me know if you try it with the 2% milk and how it turned out.
Lawrence in Rancho Mirage
Just curious, Karrie. One of my favorite See’s candies, growing up ( and now at 71, still IS) was their penuche. They cover the fudge pieces in Dark Chocolate. Think I may have to try that with this wonderful recipe. The dark chocolate is a super counterpoint for the brown sugary goidness of the fudge.
I love See's candies! Unfortunately, I've never had their penuche, but just looked up on their site for the chocolate covered one and found "See's Dark Bordeaux". It looks like they have some sort of chocolate sprinkles on them too?? Thank you so much for letting me know about them, Lawrence, and I'm going to order a box right now!
Hi, I just wanted to comment about Sees candy. I fell in love with their Butterscotch Squares. That is actually the candy you need to try. Absolutely wonderful. It’s the pens he covered in chocolate. I’m excited to try your recipe and will be doing it soon. Thanks so much.
Thanks Sandy and I'll check out the Butterscotch Squares. Please let me know how you like the fudge when you try it!
Wow! Gorgeous Penuche! My mom used to make this when I was a kid. I''ve used different recipes through the years, This recipe is great. I did not have any milk or cream so I went online and it said 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 cup of water =I cup of milk so that seemed to work great!
Thank you SunnyD and so happy you enjoyed the recipe! Great to hear the sweetened condensed milk worked out for you too! Hope you had a wonderfully Happy New Year.
Great texture and cooked well at my high altitude adjustments. Why is the color much lighter with yours? Great taste and a nice Valentine treat.
So happy you liked it and thanks for letting me know! The only difference I did when making my fudge was using raw milk. Wouldn't think it would make it lighter in color, but maybe that's the reason
My mother always used cream instead of milk. It was wonderful. She passed away last week at 97. We used this recipe to serve penoche fudge at her viewing. It was such a fun thing to do to honor our mom.
Aww Becky, you just touched my heart! So sorry to hear of your Mother's passing and positive thoughts to you and your family. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and so honored you made it. And next time I'm making it with cream instead of milk!
I really love this recipe ❤ ❤ This fudge is delicious and I make it often for the holidays.
Thank you so much Simona!
Sugar, butter, vanilla… My three favorite things. I am one of those weirdos that prefer the vanilla over chocolate when it comes to fudge and this recipe is perfect for me.
I don't think a bad recipe ever started with sugar, butter, and vanilla. hahahaha! I'm a chocolate lover but this stuff is so different and I like it over any other flavor of fudge.
I am in love with this. Amazingly delicious. Bookmarked!
Thanks Karen! I'm in love with it too!
I have never tasted this fudge but I love pralines so I made it. Love it and thanks for the recipe!
Hi Gaila! Glad you liked it and it is very similar to pralines!
I've never heard of Penuche fudge, but saw this on Pinterest and decided to try it. It's fantastic! Thanks for introducing me to something new and I'll be making this every year for the holidays!
Thank you Cheryl and so delighted you enjoyed the fudge recipe!
Oh yessss, pure happiness here! I love the name of this fudge too...Penuche...it sounds so fancy and refined. Can't stop eating it either! So good!
Thanks Annie and it's pure happiness of fancy sugar fudge! lol!