15 July 2011

A confession and a revelation.

Do you follow me on twitter?  Are we friends on facebook?  If so, you were privy to a particularly distressing confession earlier today.  (If not, get on that.) I'm talking about my treacherous, consuming, rampant, and undiscerning sweet tooth.

After a perfectly reasonable summer supper of bruschetta, olives and salad, I had the overwhelming urge to stir up a pan of penuche frosting.  You know, to eat. With a spoon.  (I would say I must have been raised by wolves, but hey, at least I had the spoon.  To class it up a bit.) Unable to resist an impulse like that, I, of course, succumbed.

Do you know how to make penuche frosting?  I suspect people don't make it much anymore, which is a shame.  It is charmingly old fashioned, the simplest thing, and the most impressive.  People assume you stirred for ages or used a candy thermometer.  Nope.  You don't even need a mixer.

Melt a stick of butter (you know that's 1/2 cup, right?) in a nice little saucepan.  Stir in a cup of brown sugar.  Boil it gently for a minute or two.  Stir in 1/4 c milk.  Bring back to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Let it sit around for a while until it isn't bubbling, and stir in enough powdered sugar to make it do what you'd like it to.  (That's probably somewhere between 2-3 cups.)  

Penuche can do most anything from a silky glaze to a thickly swirled blanket, to a crisply piped star.  It is versatile.  And forgiving.  If you screw it up, stir in a little milk, reheat it, and beat it well (apologizing all the while for your carelessness.) Penuche will forgive you. And eventually do exactly what you want it to. More things in life ought to take their cues from penuche.

Penuche is lovely draped over a darkly decadent chocolate cake. It's perfect swirled onto simple golden cupcakes.  If you're an utter heathen, it's apparently delightful, warm, out of the saucepan you whipped it up in.   

Further, I had been guessing that if you stir in a little more xxx sugar than usual, sprinkled the surface with toasted walnuts, and let the penuche frosting set up in a buttered pan, you could cut it into squares and pretend you aren't just eating a bowl of frosting. 

I guessed right.  

Oh, sweet dignity!   

(While this isn't the penuche fudge your grandmother made (did your grandmother make fudge?  Mine just made a mean gin and tonic) it certainly is a good approximation. Besides, will any of your friends be able to tell the difference?)

Mary Catherine


  1. That sounds and look delightful - I will indeed be making that soon! Thank you!

  2. Neither of my grandmother's made fudge. But my mom does, and it's one of our favorite things to do together. We generally limit ourselves to two or three pans a year. Otherwise we'd make it EVERY WEEKEND.

  3. My grandmother never made penuche fudge, but I do fondly recall little penuche coated peanuts set out whenever my mother would join her for a game of sheepshead. Thank you for such a charming post!

  4. this and your chevre have been on my to make list. i can't wait. it's going to be such a treat. i love this place. <3

  5. FYI: This Friday (July 22) is National Penuche Day!

  6. Ha! You learn something new every day. (I didn't know there was such a thing as National Penuche day, much less when it was! I am amazed!)