Old-Fashioned Brown sugar fudge recipe

An easy old-fashioned fudge recipe made with brown sugar, cream, and butter along with a hint of vanilla. A delicious confectionary that is creamy, sweet, and melts in your mouth!

My grandma used to make this recipe all the time and would serve it to me with tea and there wasn’t a Christmas that went by where we didn’t have a whole tin on the counter or on the dessert table.

The more I get in the kitchen and think of all the recipes I want to share with you the ones that I hold dearest are my grandma’s recipes.

She was an amazing baker. Cooking in my family not so much. But baked goods … my grandma was a master!

This fudge recipe is the one recipe I could not find. And my son after hearing me talk so much about this fudge asked me to make him some. Since then I have been on a mission and I am happy to say … I found the recipe!

Tucked away with some notes in a cookbook my mom gave me from the 1930s. Called The Purity Cookbook.

Here are some other amazing recipes of my grandma’s

Ingredients & substitutions

  • Brown sugar – Light brown sugar lightly packed when measuring.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Heavy cream – This is what gives it a creamy texture and adds a little more fat. You can also substitute the cream for whole milk.
  • Unsalted butter – Doesn’t need to be softened because you will be melting it anyway.
  • Salt – Kicks up the flavour of foods in general.
  • Vanilla – Sorry totally forgot to include this in the picture but if you don’t have any no sweat.

How to make brown sugar fudge

In a medium-sized pot add brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, cream, and unsalted butter. Stir with a wooden spoon until sugar and butter are melted and combined.

Bring the sugar to a boil and then stop stirring or the sugar will crystallize.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the mixture until the candy reaches 236°F.

Or to test if the fudge is done cooking you can use the soft ball test. This is really what I use and how I was taught. It may not be 100% accurate so I also always test with the thermometer.  

Remember to not stir the sugar at this point or the fudge will become gritty. Just dip your wooden spoon in to grab some of the candy for the soft ball test explained below.

what is the soft Ball Test in Candy making?

Different candies will require the sugar mixture to cook until a certain consistency is achieved. For this old-fashioned fudge, you want the sugar mixture to become a soft ball when a small amount is poured into cold water.

So to do this, get a glass and fill it halfway with cold water. Then using the wooden spoon pour a little of the candy mixture into the water.

Using your hand see how the candy feels after it has been cooled in the water. It should not feel mossy and like it is going to fall apart. If it does continue cooking until the sugar when cooled in the cold water becomes a soft, stable ball.

If it becomes hard and/or stringy you have overcooked it and there is no fixing that so test often!

Once the candy mixture has been heated to 236ºF remove the candy mixture from the heat. Set the pot aside and do not stir at all.

Let the candy mixture cool until the bottom of the pan is cool enough to touch or the mixture is about 110ºF.

Once cooled add the vanilla and using a wooden spoon quickly beat until the candy mixture losses its gloss and becomes a smooth matte finish. 

You need to summon your inner beast here and use your muscles to work hard and fast. As soon as you start to stir the candy will start to crystalize and become lighter in colour and harder to stir so move fast.

Think of it as a mini-workout before eating a pound of sugar!

Then quickly pour the brown sugar fudge into an 8″ X 8″ glass baking dish lined with parchment paper.

Using the back of the wooden spoon or a spatula smooth the top of the fudge out and push it into the corners of the pan.

Let cool completely on the counter for about an hour and then slice into squares using a sharp knife.

Why do you need to use a wooden Spoon?

Because my mother said so. Actually, she did but there is a reason unlike many of the other nos I got in my teenage years.

There are actually two reasons.

The first, so you don’t burn your hands while stirring. The candy mixture gets really really hot and a metal spoon is a good conductor of heat. The metal spoon will heat up quickly and be too hot to handle.

Wood does not store heat as well so it will not get hot enough to burn you while stirring.

The second reason, metal spoons will induce crystalization. There is a whole scientific thing about this that I don’t understand but Chef Harold McGee in his book Food and Cooking explains that using a metal spoon attracts the heat away from the sugars inducing crystalization.

I don’t really know but in the end… just use the wooden spoon.

Is brown sugar fudge the same as penuche fudge?

I would say yes. Penuche fudge is said to have originated in New England and is made with brown sugar, milk and vanilla but in the south, it is considered similar to a praline without the nuts and is called brown sugar fudge. Both have a maple-like flavour because of the concentrated brown sugar flavour.

The name Penuche originates from the Italian word Panucci which refers to a similar recipe of a fudge made with no chocolate and brown sugar.

How to store brown sugar or penuche fudge?

Fudge does not need to be refrigerated and will last up to 2-3 weeks stored in an air-tight container on the counter. But this will never be a problem trust me… fudge has a tendency to disappear quickly.

If you like This recipe You May Also Enjoy…

An easy fudge recipe made with brown sugar and cream cut into pieces

Old-Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge (Penuche)

An easy old-fashioned fudge recipe made with brown sugar, cream, and butter along with a hint of vanilla. A delicious confectionary that is creamy, sweet, and melts in your mouth!
4.48 from 44 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert, Treat
Cuisine: American, Canadian, Italian
Keyword: Brown Sugar Fudge, Candy, Confectionary, Fudge, Fudge Recipe, Penuche
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooling: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 20 pieces
Calories: 196kcal

Equipment

  • Medium pot
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Candy thermometer
  • 8" X 8" glass baking dish

Ingredients

  • 3 cups brown sugar packed lightly
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  • Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, cream and salt to a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Stir until butter and sugar are melted and combined. Stop stirring
  • Bring the sugar to a boil and stop stirring. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cook until the sugar reaches 236°F. Test using the soft ball method by adding some of the candy mixture to a cup of cold water. If a soft candy ball forms then the fudge is cooked.
  • Remove from heat and let cool to 110F. Once cooled add the vanilla and quickly beat with a wooden spoon until the fudge becomes smooth, lighter in colour and loses it shininess to a matte texture.
  • Pour the fudge quickly into an 8" X 8" glass dish lined with parchment paper. Push the fudge into the corners of the pan with the wooden spoon or spatula and smooth off the top. Let cool completely for about 1 hour and then cut into squares.
  • Store in a sealed container on the counter for up to 3 weeks.

Notes

Can be stored on the counter for up to 3 weeks in a tightly sealed container.
Substitutions:
Heavy whipping cream can be substituted for evaporated milk
Add-ons:
Pecans or walnuts can be added at the same time vanilla is added. A 1/4 cup will do.

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 196kcal | Carbohydrates: 42.6g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 3.4g | Saturated Fat: 2.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.9g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 70mg | Potassium: 49mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 42.2g | Vitamin A: 124IU | Vitamin C: 0mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @thedeliciousspoon or tag #thedeliciousspoon in your post!
Please Note:The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Pin it for later!

For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the How To Make The Best Old-Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge Story.

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50 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    My Dad always made tge best ‘Brown Sugar Candy’ every holiday season. Everyone loved it! But Dad only used brown sugar, he never added white sugar to it!

  2. 5 stars
    This came out DELICIOUS! I made it yesterday and halved the recipe. I added one T of the butter with all the rest of the ingredients and one with the Vanilla after taking it off the heat. Let it sit and then stirred at 110. It is so creamy and yummy with just the slightest “sparkle” of texture. Perfect! Thanks so much!

  3. And another thing…I sometimes am to impatient to wait for it to cool (and I never wait as long a recipes say!). I’ve held the pan under cold water while stirring – I also slipped one time, got water in the pan and ruined that batch. But I’ve done it a lot and never had it ruin the way it turns out. You DON’T want it to cool too much, because you don’t want it to harden before you have BEATEN it – that slap & whack makes the fudge smooth and silky.

    1. Hi Pat, thank you so much for sharing your family’s recipe for fudge. This recipe I have posted is my Grandma’s recipe and it is a variety of fudge often called penuche. It is not meant to be creamy fudge-like you would get a fair but is more of a sugary fudge that melts in your mouth. This recipe has been a favourite in my family for many generations and is one of my most popular recipes on the blog. I will definitely have to give your recipe a try and thanks again for sharing!

  4. Hello, I was wondering if I could use a hand mixer to stir as I’m a bit strength challenge due to an illness. If not, I’ll have to enlist in someone to do that part for me. Thanks in advance. ~S~

      1. I just made your recipe and it’s amazing. Just a note for the lady that wanted grams . The brown sugar is 360grams . I’m Canadian but I’m old school and rather do cups instead.
        Thanks

        1. Thanks Wendy for helping out there! I am old school too and depending on what I am measuring flip flop between the metric and Imperial all the time. This is what happens when you live so close to the border LOL.

  5. 3 stars
    The taste is delicious but unfortunately the texture is incredibly grainy and not at all smooth. I followed the instructions exactly, using a candy thermometer, a wooden spoon, etc. Luckily I’m not serving to anyone but myself and husband. 🙂

    1. Hi Cait, I would not describe this recipe as a smooth fudge like this chocolate fudge recipe. It does have a slightly sugary texture that melts in your mouth. A bit different than the fudge that you would get at country fair.

      1. To me, no fudge should be grainy, nor should it be SOFT (like recipes with marshmallow). This is what I do for fudge with a crisp bite that melts in your mouth – to stop that crystalization: butter the sides of the pan, IN A SEPARATE container (I use a 4-cup measuring cup) mix the ingredients well (I don’t add the butter here, but add it while fudge is cooling in pan, like most recipies), pour mixture gently into pan – it’s sugar splashing on the pan edges that causes the whole thing to crystalization (well, ONE reason). And stir gently – no splashing. Always used a BIG metal spoon – that physical BEATING makes it smooth. I also add 1T corn syrup (to stop crystals), and sometimes change to 1C light brown sugar to 1 1/2 C regular sugar. Adding 1T orange jest also helps cut the “too sweet” affect. A mild nut- like macadamia- is good. IMPORTANT is that soft-ball temperature; not reaching it will give you a good sauce for ice cream (or like toffee). Over that temp will give you sugar crystals, and setting up before you can get it out of the pan. Thermometers are often wrong; I’ve learned mine is 3 degrees too cool! And I still have trouble cutting – I want thick pieces with wavy tops. I line the pan with foil, and lift the whole thing out, so I can cut the outside pieces off first…but they still break..

  6. Hi there, I’m hoping to make this recipe today but I don’t own a glass pan, mine is silicone. Will this affect the outcome of the fudge?

  7. Can I cook it more after the tfact that I did not cook it long enough. If I was to put it back on the stove after it sat in pan in fridge for one day it is not hard enough.

    1. Hi Doris,

      I do not believe so. But I have never tried. It won’t hurt to try and if you do please let me know how it turns out.

  8. It took forever to cool down to the temp noted in the recipe (like over an hour). And my fudge ended up being grainy, tasty, but grainy. Any idea why it would take so long to cool down and do you honestly let it sit there all that time without stirring?

    1. Hi Kari, Sugar gets very hot so it will take a bit to cool down. In terms of the grainy texture did you happen to use a metal spoon to stir? Did you stir beyond the fudge turning from glossy to matte finish? These are the two reasons why the sugar will crystalize and are described within the blog post. Please let me know if either of these things were the culprit.

    2. 5 stars
      Turned out very nice. One thing puzzles me however. My saucepans are all stainless steel so obviously the fudge is in constant contact with metal. Therefore, how could a metal spoon make a difference.

      1. Hi Linda, this is as much a mystery to me. I think it may have to do with the introduction of a new heat conductor that my disrupt the molecules. But in the end, I didn’t argue with my Grandma and trust there must be some science behind it.

    1. Hi Taryn, There are two reasons this can happen which I outlined in the post. The first is using a metal spoon. Always use a wooden spoon when making this recipe or candy in general because there is a scientific reaction with the metal and sugar. The metal is said to attract the heat away from the sugar causing crystallization. The second reason this happens has to do with the sugar temperature again. When the fudge has reached the right “soft ball” temperature you have to quickly stir it with a wooden spoon again until it reaches a smooth matte texture. If you take too long to stir the fudge will have a chance to cool down and again the molecular structure will be broken causing crystallization when stirred. So summon your inner beast, put those muscles to work and stir quickly!

      1. I made this and it turned out grainy. I used a wooden spoon. Your recipe says to reach 236 temp and remove from heat then let cool to 110 temp then stir in vanilla . But you just said in post up above this one to continue to stir at 236 and not let it cool to 110 temp. ????

        1. Hi Rhonda, I did check the recipe and post and it said to not stir until the candy reached 110°F but I have updated the recipe and post to make it more clear.

  9. Do you know of a similar peanut butter fudge recipe? I will bookmark this to make in the future, it sounds awesome. But we’re craving peanut butter. Thanks

    1. Hi Stephanie, So sorry but I don’t have a recipe for that at the moment. I will put it on my list though to work on one!

    2. Stephanie I hv two PB fudge recipes that are amazing! If you see this and would like them, plz email me at nan.bowen09@gmail.com. I hv to look them up and too long to put on here. I also make PB cornflake cookies…ugh!!

  10. Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the issues. It was really informative. Your site is very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  11. 3 stars
    It’s WAAAYYYY too sweet I added the amount of sugar it said and it’s very hard to eat even a little bit! I used dark brown sugar so maybe that’s the problem?

  12. 5 stars
    Thank you for this wonderful plain ole brown sugar fudge recipe. I’ve made a lot of fudges but never this one. Most have been great, some good and some failures that got tossed. The latest failure I recovered (4 times cooked) and it came out like a tootsie roll consistently. I’ve used metal and wood spoons and come to think of it maybe my failures and not so good to good I probably used metal. My mom taught me a soft ball stage but now I mostly use a Taylor candy thermometer. Thanks again.?♥

  13. Thank you for tracking this recipe down!!! I have been looking for this recipe ever since I began cooking. My mother made a fudge that looked just like this and we could never find a recipe for it. I can’t wait to try it!! When you get to the last stage where you have to stir it like a madman, how long does it take before it gets to the matte-looking stage? The last thing I want is crystallized sugar instead of creamy fudge. Thank you again for finding and publishing this recipe. I thought I would never find it.

    1. Hi Dianna! The fudge gets a matte finish as soon as you start stirring. In seconds but it takes maybe a minute to get it to a smooth consistency. Not long but that minute seems long when you are mixing such a thick mixture. Good luck and let me know how it turns out for you! I am curious… Did your mom teach you the “soft ball” method or do you use the more precise thermometer way?

  14. 5 stars
    Delicious fudge, I loved it. You know, I’ve noticed that people seem to fall into two categories when it comes to baking and cooking either they’re amazing bakers but no so great at cooking or amazing at cooking but so much at baking very few are great at both. I have a few baking recipe I make good but I have way more failure than success ?. Thanks for this easy fudge recipe ❤️

  15. 5 stars
    I love the texture of your fudge – looks right up my street. I’m notoriously bad at making fudge, so keen to try this recipe out as I notice you let it cool before beating, which might be what I’ve not been doing with other recipes. Wish me luck….

    1. Yes, that is exactly where you may be running into trouble. When the sugar has a little time to cool they will have a tougher time clinging to each other and forming those dreaded crystals.

  16. 5 stars
    Who can say no to fudge. I love that this is just brown sugar. I can never entice my kids to try my peanut butter fudge so this is the perfect recipe for them!

    1. Oh, you just wait. This fudge is life changing. They will love it… I mean it is a brick of nearly solid sugar LOL!

  17. 5 stars
    Wow this looks SO good and so incredibly easy! I can’t wait to make it with my kids. Thank you for all of the great tips!

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