My mom has been a candymaker for longer than I’ve been alive, learning the tricks and techniques from my grandmother. When I was young, she and my grandma Atkinson wrote a cookbook, Candymaking. It’s long been out of print, but it’s fun when I hear people who still refer to this cookbook on a regular basis. Growing up, I was surrounded with caramels, fudge, chocolates, and truffles. But my favorite was always a sweet treat called penouche.
The best way I can describe penouche is that it would be the love child of caramel and fudge. It has that thick, creamy texture of fudge, along with the sweet, caramel notes of a rich caramel.
For our neighbor gifts this year we decided to whip up some penouche, and I thought I’d share the recipe from my mom’s book.
2 C whipping cream
1 T light corn syrup
2 C granulated sugar
1 C firmly packed brown sugar
3 T butter
1/2 C white compound coating or white chocolate chips
1.5 C pecans, toasted and chopped (if desired)
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap; set aside. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, combine cream, corn syrup, and sugars. Place over medium high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until mixture comes to a boil. If sugar crystals are presents on the edges of the saucepan, wash down the sides with a wet pastry brush.
Clip on candy thermometer (if you don’t have a candy thermometer, use another highly accurate thermometer like a Thermapen (not sponsored–I just really like their stuff. But if you’re reading this, Thermapen, holla). Cook, stirring occasionally, to 236F (229F along the Wasatch Front due to our higher elevation/lower boiling point). Remove from heat. Without stirring, add butter. Let stand until thermometer cools to 210F. Without stirring, add compound coating. Let stand 1 minute. Remove thermometer. Add nuts and stir with a wooden spoon until white chocolate is melted and butter is fully incorporated. Candy should be thick and creamy. Scrape into prepared pan. Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm. Cut into 1 inch squares. Store in refrigerator. Makes 64 pieces.
While cooking, the penouche will stall right around the boiling point for several minutes while the water boils out. After that, it climbs quickly to 229F, so keep a close eye on it and don’t walk away. While stirring, stir gently to avoid having the sugar accumulate on the edge of the pan, otherwise the penouche will crystallize and lose its smooth, creamy texture.