TASTE
07/22/2014 07:00 am ET

WTF Is Penuche Fudge, Anyway?

Radishes And Rhubarb

Today is National Penuche Fudge Day. We know what you're thinking: What the f*ck is penuche fudge? Penuche, or panucci in Italian, is fudge made with brown sugar, milk, butter and a hint of vanilla -- but no chocolate. What sets penuche apart from other fudge is the brown sugar -- most fudge is made with white sugar. The brown sugar lends butterscotch and maple tones to this New England favorite, which may be enhanced by adding actual maple syrup in some cases. Penuche can also be made with evaporated milk or nuts, like walnuts or pecans.

In the South, penuche fudge is often referred to as Brown Sugar Fudge Candy, and in addition to making penuche fudge, people also use penuche to make frosting. It may not be the prettiest dessert, but people swear by penuche. Brown sugar is one of those ingredients that can make a huge difference in your cooking and baking. Its dark color and flavor is due to its molasses content -- between three to seven percent, depending on the kind of brown sugar (light or dark). The hint of molasses yields a spicier, richer flavor than regular white sugar.

While the origins of brown sugar-based fudge aren't entirely known, some people believe the idea for penuche fudge came from former Boston Bruins player Mark Penuche in 1924, who had a known love for maple syrup. According to Merriam-Webster, however, the word penuche comes from the Mexican Spanish word panocha, which means raw sugar.

Wherever the origin of penuche fudge may lie, it has become a New England favorite and a staple in fudge stores across the country. In honor of National Penuche Fudge Day, step outside your comfort zone and look past the questionable designation of a food holiday in honor of this treat, 'cuz it's time to try some penuche.

Want to read more from HuffPost Taste? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

Fudge Recipes

CONVERSATIONS