When we first started making fudge each of us had our favorite flavors that we knew we needed to perfect. They were the classics: Chocolate, Chocolate Walnut, Peanut Butter, White Chocolate Vanilla and Maple Pecan.
Early on, a few people started asking us when we planned on creating a Penuche fudge. It wasn't a fudge flavor either of us remembered gravitating towards as kids, probably because of the funny name, and after a quick google search our thinking was that we basically had it covered with Maple Pecan.
Boy were we wrong! And as we grew and started reaching more and more people, plenty of customers let us know it! So we dug a bit deeper and found that Penuche has a long and very distinct history. Penuche itself goes by a number of different names: praline fudge, treacle fudge, panucci or "brown sugar fudge", and it's believed that the name derives from the Spanish Mexican word for "raw sugar": panocha.
While it's not clear exactly which culture first created Penuche, it is apparent that it's been getting cooked up and enjoyed by people throughout the world for centuries, all calling it something different. The key, unifying feature from India to Mexico, Portugal to the boardwalks of beach towns throughout the Northeast, is the distinct, deep flavor that comes from molasses-rich sugar.
Once we saw how passionately people love this fudge flavor we knew we had to start making it ourselves. We started with brown sugar, following a lot of the recipes we found online, but weren't satisfied with the level of molasses flavor in those batches - it seemed too weak.
There was another concern we had - we quickly found out that molasses is "hygroscopic" - meaning it absorbs moisture from the air. As everyone knows, mixing sugar with moisture can quickly turn into a sticky mess. A lot of other fudge makers compensate for this by limiting the molasses content or using stabilizers in the fudge. We weren't satisfied with those compromises though - our number one priority is always flavor, and we knew that we could crack the secret to making this fudge perfect with enough experimentation.
Through months of testing we were finally able to come up with a recipe that results in a fudge that's just as creamy as our other fudges while really accentuating and celebrating that deep molasses flavor that so many people enjoy. Because it's made with so much molasses it is a bit softer and stickier than some of our other fudges, but the flavor more than makes up for the sticky fingers.
We are so glad so many people told us about how much they loved this fudge - it's quickly become one of our favorites as well, and now we know never to underestimate Penuche!