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!
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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
Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, cream, and unsalted butter to a medium saucepan. 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.
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.
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!
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.
Old-Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge (Penuche)
- Medium pot
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Wooden Spoon
- Candy thermometer
- 8" X 8" glass baking dish
- 3 cups brown sugar packed lightly
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 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.
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.
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For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the How To Make The Best Old-Fashioned Brown Sugar Fudge Story.