Being the “people pleaser” that I am, I decided I would attempt to make my grandmother’s penuche. No one in the family seems to know what happened to the recipe. She did not do a lot of cooking, but she did make good pies, chocolate fudge and penuche. Unfortunately, I never actually witness her making it. Anyone that knows me, knows I do not like to bake or make candy. So, I really stepped out of my comfort zone on this one, and faced the candy thermometer head on. How hard can it be? Well, 6 pounds of brown sugar / 3 batches / 3 recipes and 2 different #%@!…ing candy thermometers (which involved a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond) later and I think I finally came close to her recipe. Everyone around here thinks it’s good, but I think that is because they are scared of me. Let’s just say that this is as close as I am taking it! If the Robins family on the east coast wants to take the torch and further refine it, let me know.
So, many swear words later, this is the recipe. I wish you luck!
Makes 3 pounds
2 lbs light brown sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
½ cup butter
4 Tbs light corn syrup, optional
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
In a medium saucepan, mix brown sugar, milk, butter, corn syrup if using, and salt. Cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Cook without stirring until soft ball stage is reached* or to 238° on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm. Add vanilla and beat until thick. Pour into a buttered 9-inch square pan or an 11×7-inch pan. When firm, cut into squares.
Tip: If using a heavy-duty stand mixer with paddle, make sure to watch it carefully. As soon as the mixture loses its glossiness and begins to hold its shape a bit, spread in the pan.
To Test for Soft Ball Stage
A small amount of syrup dropped into chilled water forms a ball, but is soft enough to flatten a bit when picked up with fingers (234° to 240°).