Thursday, October 16, 2014

Eats: Peanut Butter Penuche

Hello! When I was a kid, class parties to celebrate holidays like Halloween and Christmas were the norm. Nobody seemed to care how many sugary treats and junk foods we ingested on such days either. And with close to 40 students in my class, there was always a ton of cookies, candies and other goodies brought from everyone's homes for party refreshments.

Nobody seemed to have a peanut allergy as well, for the twin sisters in my class, Pam and Patty, often handed out a delicious peanut butter fudge their mom made as their contribution to the parties. This fudge was medium brown in color, slightly grainy in texture, and tasted wonderful to a peanut butter lover like me! 

I can remember the times my own mother made gumdrop cookies for me to pass around at the class parties, but I can't remember what treats the other kids brought - except for that peanut butter fudge. I never thought to ask Pam and Patty for the recipe, though. I wasn't really friends with them, and my mom frowned on candymaking most of the time anyway.

My husband doesn't like peanut butter, so I never sought out recipes featuring that ingredient. However, our daughter came along and she likes peanut butter as much as I do. So, a hunt for a peanut butter fudge like the one I had in grade school was on. 

I tried a couple recipes that sounded promising, but while they were okay, they didn't have the texture that I remembered from my classmates' candy. But a few years back I made the recipe for Peanut Butter Penuche from Gooseberry Patch's Welcome Home For The Holidays cookbook. Lo and behold, besides being very easy and quick to prepare, it came very close in flavor and texture to that long-ago sweet.

Flash forward to the present: we're going to visit our daughter at college over the weekend. I always like to bring her a homemade treat when we do so, but an ongoing kitchen remodel means whatever I made had to be simple. Peanut Butter Penuche to the rescue!

If you'd like to make it yourself, here's the recipe:

Peanut Butter Penuche (adapted from Gooseberry Patch's Welcome Home For the Holidays; recipe was contributed by Betty Monfort)

3/4 cup milk
1 pound light brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
12 ounces peanut butter, either smooth or crunchy
3 tablespoons marshmallow cream (but see my notes below)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Grease a 9x9 pan. Combine milk and sugars in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; boil three minutes. Remove from heat. Add the peanut butter, marshmallow  cream and vanilla. Beat for a short time, then pour into prepared pan. Cut into pieces while penuche is still warm for easier slicing. Serve after penuche has cooled; it will be quite firm then. 

Notes: the recipe indicates crunchy peanut butter, but my daughter and I prefer smooth, so that's the kind I always use. 

Up until tonight, I'd always added the amount of marshmallow cream listed. However, the one fault this fudge has is that it seems to dry out after a day or two. Working on the assumption that more marshmallow cream would hopefully result in a less dry fudge, I added more to the mixture. How much more? I didn't measure it precisely, just spooned out three blobs of the stuff. It probably was at least double the specified amount in the recipe. Time will tell if the extra marshmallow cream makes a difference in dryness or not, but I thought it worth a try.

I find it helpful to measure the peanut butter and marshmallow cream in advance; that way they're both ready to dump into the cooked mixture right away after it's been taken off the stove. You can do this step while the milk and sugars are being heated to boiling. 

I find that I don't need to beat the penuche any further once the peanut butter and marshmallow cream have blended evenly into the cooked mixture; this candy seems to set up quickly without prolonged beating. See what I mean by very easy and quick?

Keep in mind that the milk/sugar mixture will increase in volume when it reaches its boiling point, so make sure you use a large enough pan. A cooked sugar mixture that has boiled over from a too-small pan = a too-big mess!

The recipe doesn't give a yield, but the amount of penuche made fills up the 9x9 pan pretty well. There's plenty to share and still keep some for yourself if you've got the same peanut butter sweet tooth that I do! 

Here's how my peanut butter penuche turned out, by the way:

One small tin, ready to give to our daughter. I made sure to give her enough to share with friends - not only is that a nice thing to do, but also prevents me from over-indulging in the rest of the batch!


  1. I had a piece this noon and it was excellent. I'll bring some home to share with the family... maybe.

  2. Glad you liked it! Our kid was very happy when I gave her the tinful. She said she'd been thinking of this recipe after seeing peanut butter cake in the cafeteria. She didn't get it because she knew it wouldn't taste as good as this!