Here's What Makes Penuche Different From Regular Fudge

Imagine you're back to being a kid in the candy store, swooning over the display cases chock-full with decadent confections. Treats like lollipops and gummy bears are easy to call out by name whereas a select few warrant a "I want that!" plus a finger point to obtain the sugary goods. Prime head-scratcher-tummy-rumbler culprits are those light brown, nut-studded cubes sat next to cocoa fudge squares. Are they caramel? Butterscotch? Chocolate-less fudge? What are they called, anyways? Wonder no more: these treats are called penuche and essentially, they're a caramelized, butterscotch-flavored fudge without — you guessed it — the chocolate (via HuffPo). 

That consumers immediately associate fudge with chocolate demonstrates how this pervasive particular flavor is — in reality, The Spruce Eats points out that peanut butter, marshmallow, and more can step in as equally powerful fudge ingredients.   

Enough with fudging the truth. Let's learn more about what differentiates penuche from chocolate fudge. 

Penuche is fudge made from a specific sugar

Not all fudge is penuche, but penuche is always fudge. More specifically, it's a type of fudge made from brown sugar, milk, butter, and, in some cases, nuts (via HuffPo). Author Paul Chrystal puts it in even simpler terms in his book "The History of Sweets": "Fudge made from brown sugar is penuche." On the whole, the dessert has blurry origins  — HuffPo calls it "a New England favorite," but "The History of Sweets" notes it also has roots in Southern culinary history and in the records of several other countries, such as Scotland, India, and Poland. 

Penuche may lack the deep tasting notes of chocolate, but its caramelized brown sugar and dairy lends rich nutty tones reminiscent of butterscotch and maple, according to Martha Stewart, which hug your senses with every bite you take. Adding a few nuts like walnuts or pecans to the mix, as food blog Fearless Fresh suggests, drives penuche to a delicious intersection of crunchy and fudgy. Most recipes also add vanilla extract for an extra dose of flavor. It's not always in fudge form, either; penuche can also be used as frosting for layer cakes (via Food52). However you slice, smear, or serve this brown sugar fudge, one thing is for certain: it'll be perfectly penuche.