Penuche is a fudge-like candy made from brown sugar, butter, and milk, and is simply flavored with vanilla. It's lighter in color than typical fudge, and has a flavor reminiscent of caramel -- delicious! When preparing, use a reliable candy thermometer to ensure the best results.
Cooking tip: to test for soft ball stage (when it is ready to be set), drop a small amount of syrup dropped into chilled water. It is ready when it forms a ball, but is soft enough to flatten a bit when picked up with fingers (234° to 240° on a candy thermometer).
- 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 236° F to 238° F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm (about 120° F).
- Add vanilla. Beat until thick and no longer glossy. If using a heavy-duty stand mixer with paddle, don't add the pecans until the last step. Make sure to watch it carefully.
- As soon as the mixture loses its glossiness and begins to hold its shape a bit, stir in pecans and spread in the pan. Pour into a buttered 9-inch square pan or an 11x7-inch pan. When firm, cut into squares.