1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup half-and-half or light cream
2 T butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1. Line an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Butter the foil; set pan aside.
2. Butter the sides of a 2-quart heavy saucepan. In saucepan combine sugars and half-and-half. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Reduce heat to medium-low; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, until thermometer registers 236 degrees, soft-ball stage (about 15 minutes)*.
*What is soft-ball stage? This means that when you drip some of the hot sugar mix into a bowl of very, very cold water, and then take it out, the candy will flatten out and run over your finger. Basically, it is starting to solidify.
3. Remove saucepan from heat. Add butter and vanilla, but do not stir. Cool, without stirring, to 110 degrees (about 40 minutes).
4. Remove thermometer from saucepan. Beat mixture vigorously with a clean wooden spoon until it just begins to thicken. Add the chopped nuts, if desired. Continue beating until penuche becomes thick and just starts to lose its gloss (about 10 minutes total).
5. Immediately spread penuche evenly in the prepared pan. Score into squares while warm. When penuche is firm, use foil to lift it out of the pan. Cut penuche into squares. Store tightly covered for up to 1 week.
Ok, I did pretty good up to step 4, where I lost it. First of all, by the time you cool to 110 degrees, it is already pretty thick- like molasses- and therefore there is no "beating". There is sloggishly stirring (in intervals) as hard as you can while your wrist and arm totally cramp up until you decide that the "gloss" is indeed gone (about 2 minutes total). In actuality, by that point, when I went to "spread" it in the pan, it was already pretty well set and there wasn't much spreading to be had. It was more like piling and hoping for the best. I also threw it into the fridge for a few minutes so it would cool and set so I could eat it immediately. I made a half a batch and it came out great. I even used fat free half-and-half because that's what I had on hand, and it was fine. It's really nice and creamy, a little crumbly, and not too soft. I highly recommend it!
|The cooling stage|
|I may have forgotten to butter the saucepan...oops! Soaked in hot water and soap; no problem with cleanup.|
|"Spread" in the pan|
|The final product!|