Penuche fudge – SUCCESS!!

Miracles really do happen. I made penuche fudge. And it set! Pardon me while I sob with joy.

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I guess the sixth time is the charm? It’s been over a year and a half since I first dabbled in making fudge, and it was such a discouraging endeavor I promised myself I’d wait a good long while before subjecting myself to such misery again.

I found this recipe on Old Tyme Fudge, and I followed it exactly (aside from one minor adjustment since I ran out of something.) I really like this site because the author writes very clear recipes, and has good tips for fudge newbs.

Before you get started:

Underbeaten fudge will never set, and overbeaten fudge will turn into a brick. The time window between those stages is razor-thin. Beating fudge to the proper consistency is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in the kitchen, and I’m still learning.

If your fudge doesn’t set, or gets bricked, don’t get discouraged! You can freeze underbeaten fudge to be used as a topping for ice cream, and bricked fudge can be re-melted.

Don’t go trying to double recipes or substitute ingredients until you know what you’re doing.

Fudge must be stirred, and then not stirred, at specific times. If you stir at the wrong stage you will get grainy lumpy fudge which is worse than having no fudge at all.

Hot sugar is napalm. Once it’s getting close to the right temperature you have to watch it like a hawk and get ready to pounce. Turn off the tv, turn off the phone, shun the world when you are making fudge.

Humidity will ruin your fudge, unless you compensate for that by increasing the cooking time and temperature, but that’s more at the expert-level. If it’s wet outside don’t even bother.

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Time required: 8.5 hours (about 1 hour of actual doing stuff)

Yields: about 30 pieces

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $25

Cost per piece: $0.83 (can you price perfection?)

Kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid mixer
  • 8″ square pan
  • tin foil
  • heavy-bottomed sauce pan
  • silicon spatula or sturdy wooden spoon
  • lots of extra spoons

Ingredients:

  • 4 C brown sugar (I used 3 C golden brown and 1 C dark brown)
  • 1½ C of 2% milk
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ C golden corn syrup
  • 3 TBSP butter, unsalted
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Line the square pan with foil and grease it. Also grease the entire inside of the sauce pan, all the way up the sides. Grease the flat beater of the mixer too.

2. Combine everything in the sauce pan except the vanilla.  Heat on Medium, stirring constantly.

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Ugh, yummy!

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3. Once mixture boils, reduce heat to Med-Low and STOP STIRRING. Insert candy thermometer.

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4. Once mixture reaches 238°F / 114°C, remove from heat. It takes a long time for the sugar to reach the correct heat, mine took about an hour. Hence the beer.

5. Just as it’s about to hit the right temperature, remove from stove and carefully place pot into cold water bath.  DO NOT STIR. Sugar will keep getting hotter and hotter if you let it sit there, so the cold water bath will immediately bring down the temperature and prevents the fudge from overcooking.

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6. Let it cool for about an hour, until temp falls to 120°F / 49°C. Once the mixture has cooled to this stage, there will be a skim on top, just ignore it. Transfer to mixing bowl and pour in the vanilla.

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Also don’t worry about the fat that rises to the surface.

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7. People tell you “beat until it loses the gloss” or “beat until it lightens”. That’s really hard to judge when you are new. Today’s fudge took 28 minutes of beating on speeds 1, 2, and 3. In the past I’ve had fudge turn into a brick under 9 minutes, so there is a learning curve here.

It was a dark molasses colour at first.

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After about 10 minutes it had lightened considerably but was still runny.

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Now 20 minutes in and I’m worried, why isn’t it firming up? What have I done wrong?

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About 25 minutes, still seems fairly glossy, and runny, but when I raise the beater the ropey strands are getting stiff.

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After 28 minutes I couldn’t take it anymore and stopped. I am not sure if it’s because a KitchenAid beats with such force, but it seemed like the beater was moving too easily through the fudge. When I would stop to scrape the bowl it was harder to do by hand so I figured it must be close to done.

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8. Pour into prepared pan and let sit at least 4 hours.  Hmmm, air bubbles. I don’t remember air bubbles in fudge before.

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9. Lift out of pan and score the top with a knife, then slice into squares.

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Real fudge is creamy, and sort of shears away from the knife. It also melts on your tongue, and tastes amazing. Like this!!

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Verdict:

“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. It set. Come look, it set!!”

Sigh. So good. Am so happy.

Playlist: Celldweller – Stay With Me (Unlikely)

Penuche fudge round 5

Pictureless post is pictureless. There are two completed desserts from last week that won’t be featured on my blog because I forgot to take pictures. Oops.

Last week I wrote about my 4th batch of penuche which was successful, and my 5th batch which was setting. I forgot to take pictures of the 5th batch later that day, because I was too busy eating pieces since it turned out!! I was so excited, it was delicious, and more importantly; it set.

Stopping for photos was the last thing on my mind. It had that gorgeous penuche taste, such an intriguing flavour. It was not as firm as I would like, and I need to master the beating and pouring process, but I’m getting closer. ^^

I became fudge-fatigued and ran out of dark brown sugar, so a break was needed.

The other dessert I wanted to post but forgot was the apple crisp that Boyfriend made for Thanksgiving, which was delicious. I am going to push him to make another one soon and if he cooperates I’ll have something to post.

It’s possible I have the energy to bake something today. You’ll have to wait and see.

Adventures in fudge

Yes,  I know. You’re wondering if you have stumbled onto a baking blog, or a film review of the movie that even the clerks in the adult store don’t want to admit they keep in stock. My research into the mechanics of fudge continues, and I discovered that researching how to make fudge on the internet is dangerous; you run the risk of finding something that will require you to bleach your eyes.

ranted mentioned that I’ve been trying and trying to make penuche fudge. Today I’m working on attempt # 5. I am happy to report attempt # 4 had fudge-like qualities, it was partially set, although too soft, and the texture is wrong, but it tastes like penuche and that is enough to overcome any flaw. I am getting closer.

Tah-dah!

Although nearly impossible to cut, when I removed some and set the rest back into the pan, it didn’t flow out to take over the empty space so I consider this a success.

I also discovered that making traditional fudge is about as much fun as tempering chocolate. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

  • I studied the penuche recipes from Betters Homes & GardensOld Tyme Fudge, and All Recipes
  • I read volumes of fudge lore
  • I tried the BHG recipe twice, and the Old Tyme recipe three times
  • I know where I’m going wrong (beating the syrup into fudge)
  • After calibrating my thermometer I found it’s 3 degrees Celsius off
  • My fifth batch is in the pan, hopefully setting right now

The easy part is cooking the ingredients into a sugar slurry without scorching.  I am mindful to only stir before it’s boiling, and to remove from heat at the soft ball stage. I add the vanilla and butter and leave it alone without stirring until it cools.

When I beat the syrup into fudge, everything falls apart. Beating fudge by hand is about as pleasant as walking on broken glass. I found a few forums where people said they beat fudge successfully in a Kitchen Aid:

I have used my KA with the flat beater to beat fudge and it worked quite well. You do have to keep a close eye on it, and it is harder to see it clearly in the mixing bowl unless I stop beating and lower the bowl to check. I was surprised how long it took the first time I used my KA, I thought it would be faster, but it took almost as long as beating by hand.

With that in mind, I assumed it would not take longer than 10 minutes, but I wasn’t sure what speed to use. I thought using the first setting would be wise, the speed closest to doing it by hand. That didn’t work, the paddle grabbed the entire mass and shoved it around the bowl without mixing .I upped the speed to 2, which seemed to go better.

On attempt # 5, I beat it for 6 minutes on speed 2, scraping the sides every 120 seconds. After the six minute mark, I beat it for another 4 minutes on speed 3, scraping the sides every 60 seconds. Somewhere between minute 9 and 10 it went wrong again.

I think this is either just before the point I need, or just past it. It started tearing off the bottom of the bowl and felt dry. I beat in one tablespoon of cream, which helped make it fluid again, but after that it wouldn’t stiffen.

Everything I have read says that you beat the fudge until the gloss is gone, and it resembles buttercream instead of syrup. I can tell when it’s glossy, but it’s hard to judge when it’s not.

I know I’m on the right track.  I am waiting for attempt # 5 to set, will know in 2 hours how I did.

If you have any tips about beating old fashioned fudge, I would love to hear them.

Playlist: NAS – Got Myself a Gun

Sea salt penuche taffy

Apparently 3 is not the magic number, or this would be a picture of penuche fudge instead of penuche taffy.

Until this failed to set, I had high hopes that I had finally achieved penuche fudge, which as I mentioned yesterday, is a childhood dream of mine. Alas I did not achieve fudge, but I did achieve something, and it has the faint taste of penuche, like a dream gone past recall. I am so close!

I wonder if this is how my sister Chocoholic used to feel.  For years when she made fudge it never set, it just slowly slid to one end of the pan. We ate it anyway, and it was delicious, but there is something annoying and humbling about being unable to make fudge.

I followed the traditional penuche recipe from Old Tyme Fudge. I’m going to try it again today.

I read a lot of online candy recipes, and often find comments that say, “This recipe sucks, I followed it exactly and it didn’t work”.  That’s a pretty conceited way to look at it. If it doesn’t work, the problem must be the recipe? It can’t be your ingredients? Or your equipment? Or your lack of technique?

I used to do tech support, I’m okay with admitting the recipe is fine and the problem is the user. If you try 3 different recipes of the same thing and it doesn’t work, the only common denominator is you.

Notice how it’s still pretty glossy? I suspect that is the problem. It’s stretchy, and when you take a bite it retains a perfect imprint of your teeth, so I think the problem is that I didn’t beat it enough after it cooled. (I was conservative during beating because I didn’t want another rock-hard lump of penuche.)

And yet…

… it wasn’t a total loss. Look at that gorgeous colour!  It mostly held its shape. Boyfriend carefully sliced each piece for me. (Okay, I couldn’t slice this, I tried. After jumping up and down leaning on the knife and not getting anywhere, he rescued me.)

I tasted one, and it was good. I added a little sea salt and wow. Even though this isn’t the final result that I wanted, I liked this a lot, but I’m not sure I could make this again even if I tried.

I’ve read that beating fudge by hand takes around 10 minutes and I had no interest in making my arms sore, so I used my KitchenAid and beat it for 1 minute (20 seconds on Low, 40 seconds on Med-High.) It was so thick I stopped. If you are interested in recreating this penuche pseudo-taffy, instead of making actual fudge, follow the recipe above and under-beat. I have no idea if you’ll get the same results so good luck!

Patty vs. Penuche

Oh fudge, indeed. What the hell is this?

Or this?

It’s certainly not penuche fudge, which I tried to make twice in 24 hours, and met with disaster both times.

Have you ever eaten penuche fudge? It is, hands down, the most delicious fudge of them all. It’s a sweet brown sugar fudge and while you are eating it all things seem possible: eternal harmony and world peace are within grasp. It is that good. I adore penuche.

It’s got to be the right type: golden brown colour, no nuts, firm consistency.

I used to have a best friend in elementary school. Her mother was an amazing baker, and she introduced me to penuche fudge and carrot cake. Her baked goods were so good, that to this day when I eat penuche or carrot cake, I take a bite and compare. Inevitably I think to myself, “This is good, but it’s not as good as hers.”

Sadly, I lost my best friend around grade 5 or 6, due to a small misunderstanding involving nun chucks, Mario Kart, and punching her brother in the face. Losing my friend was sad enough for an anti-social kid with just 2 friends, but to realize I would never again enjoy the best penuche on the planet was devastating.

"No more penuche", self-portrait, pencil

I have successfully made a simple chocolate fudge, and cookies ‘n cream fudge, and this my was first try to create the holy grail of fudge: my beloved penuche.

Right now I am following a Better Homes & Gardens recipe. It’s pretty straight forward, it says to add the white sugar, brown sugar, and cream to the sauce pot, and boil on low for about 10 minutes until you reach the soft ball stage. Once you get there, remove from heat, add vanilla and butter but do not stir, and leave it for 40 minutes to cool, then stir for 10 min before transferring to the pan to set.

On my first attempt, the candy thermometer was slowing inching up to 113°C, and then it just shot up an extra 10 degrees. In an instant the hot sugary syrup changed into something else, something bad. I decided to wait and see what would happen after leaving it for 40 min, when I came back it had hardened to this brittle mess.

I reheated it slowly, and once all the sugar had melted again I poured it into the pan. It set, but it looks like a giant brick of brown sugar, in fact it is sugar, not fudge. I scraped some off to add to my cereal this morning since there is nothing else I can do with it, aside from using it as a weapon.

On the second attempt, I thought I had it. I had double checked the temperature range for soft ball, I stirred as directed and watched the thermometer like a hawk, and removed from heat at the correct time. But when I came back after 40 minutes, it had cooled and turned into a weird shellac. You couldn’t stir it at all. I tried reheating a bit to get some fluidity back, then it scorched and mutated into this.

I attempted to scoop it out into the pan to set, but it set on the spoon.

The horror, the horror.

The worst part is, it smells like penuche! My entire apartment has been perfumed with two days of penuche-making, yet I have none to eat and THIS IS TORTURE.

Do you have a favourite recipe that eludes your grasp?