Brown Sugar Fudge (Penuche)
This old-fashioned fudge recipe is made with brown sugar and has a rich caramel-like flavor and a little crunch of toasted walnuts. Brown sugar fudge (also called penuche) is delicious and irresistible!
Who doesn’t like fudge? I’m willing to bet that no one out there is raising their hand in answer to that question. Chocolate fudge is the clear frontrunner when it comes to fudge, but this brown sugar fudge is a very close second! It’s smooth, rich and sweet, with a smoky caramel flavor that you’re sure to love.
I love to included toasted walnuts, but you can leave them out if you prefer. This brown sugar fudge recipe is simple to follow and well worth the effort. It’s perfect for Christmas and holiday parties and gifting!
Ingredients you’ll need
Here’s all the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this brown sugar fudge (full recipe at the end of this article):
baking tip:Why use evaporated milk in fudge?
Yes, you need a candy thermometer!
But don’t let that scare you away. Candy thermometers are actually super awesome, because they tell you exactly when to move on to the next step. There’s no ambiguity, and no need to guess when it’s ready.
Candy thermometers are very affordable and can be found at most department stores and baking supply stores, or you buy online. You can use a traditional mercury thermometer or a digital candy thermometer. I’ve used both over the years but prefer the accuracy of digital thermometers.
How to make brown sugar fudge
- Cook brown sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. Add to a heavy-bottomed pot and use a thermometer and cook to 238°F, stirring frequently. Keep an eye on it so you don’t over-cook it!
- Beat and add powdered sugar. Pour the mixture into a heat-proof bowl and add vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer while adding powdered sugar gradually.
- Add walnuts (if you want!). When all of the powdered sugar has been added, stir in the walnuts.
- Spread into pan. Immediately dumb the mixture into a 8-inch square pan.
- Let cool. This will take about 30-60 minutes.
- Slice. This brown sugar fudge is rich so I recommend cutting into small squares (I did 36 squares).
Tips for making brown sugar fudge
- This fudge needs to be cooked to 238°F to set up properly. However, if you live above sea level, you will need to adjust the temperature down 2°F for every 1,000 feet as water evaporates quicker at higher altitude. (I only cooked mine to 230°F as I live at about 4,000 feet in Utah.)
- 238°F is known as “soft ball stage”, meaning it’s the temperature at which candy will form into a soft ball when a little bit of it is spooned into a cup of ice water. If you don’t have a thermometer, or want a second verification that the fudge has been properly cooked, this is how you do it!
- If your fudge is crumbly, it’s likely that you cooked the sugar mixture too long and too much moisture evaporated. Watch your temperature carefully, and keep your stovetop on medium heat so it heats gradually and you can catch it before it’s over-cooked.
- I recommend using a hand-held mixer if you can. I don’t currently own one, oops! I used a stand mixer and paddle attachment and it worked okay, but I like results better when I use a hand-held mixer.
- Adding nuts is optional, but if you plan to use them I recommend toasting the nuts in the oven first. You can do this under the broiler in just a few minutes, keeping a close eye on them so they don’t burn, and stirring a few times. Walnuts are more typical, but pecans would be great too!
- Store fudge in an airtight container at room temperature for a week or more.
More candy recipes to try
- Salted Caramel Nut Brittle
- Peppermint Fudge (Frango Mint Chocolates)
- Salted Chocolate Truffles
- English Toffee
Shop tools for this recipe
This recipe was originally published October 2013.
Brown Sugar Fudge
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons evaporated milk (150 ml)
- 2 cups packed light or dark brown sugar (425 grams)
- ¾ cup unsalted butter , cut into cubes (170 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar , sifted (130 grams)
- ¾ cup toasted walnuts , chopped (optional) (85 grams)
- Combine the evaporated milk, brown sugar, butter, and salt in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring until smooth. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until a candy thermometer reaches 238°F (see Notes).
- Remove from heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl. Add the vanilla and combine with a hand-held mixer. Add the powdered sugar in small additions while continuing to beat with the mixer. Mix until smooth. Add the walnuts and mix until just combined.
- Spread the fudge into an ungreased 8-inch square pan (line with parchment or wax paper if you like). Let cool completely, about 1 hour, or chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Slice with a sharp knife. Store fudge in an air-tight container for several days.
- Temperature will need to be adjusted if you live at high altitude. Decrease temperature by 2°F for every 1,000ft of elevation. I live in Utah at over 4,000ft and cooked my sugar to 230°F.
- If you do not have a hand-held mixer, you can also use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. I’m sure you can also mix by hand with a little bit of elbow grease.
- To toast walnuts, spread in a single layer on a sheet pan and set under the broiler for 1-3 minutes, stirring at least once. Keep a very close eye on the walnuts so they don’t burn, and pull them from the oven when they are fragrant and start to turn lightly brown.