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So, what I’ve discovered is, I’m not very good at making candy.
Why- I have no idea. Penuche is technically pretty simple- a creamy, brown sugar-y fudge that, from the initial glance of the recipe, looks to be just like making butterscotch sauce.
How To Make Penuche ?
I am here to tell you that is a lie. It is not like making butterscotch sauce. Penuche-making is, in fact, the Demon Spawn of Sugar. It took three full attempts and nearly breaking my arm off by vigorous stirring before I finally arrived at a passable recipe.
At least I’m not alone in this; I’ve seen the fails of other First on the First bloggers this month, in all their failed glory. Penuche gone crumbly, or seized, or overly crystallized. And my own first kitchen fail, of weirdly oozy and gooey penuche that I could practically pour out of the dish it was meant to be setting in:
No idea how that happened.
But actually, that’s what I love about being a part of First on the First, a monthly blog-hop of food bloggers creating recipes for the first time and posting about it- the successes, the fails, the everything in between. No one is making their own special brand of awesome here; we’re all trying these dishes for the first time, usually, and no one is saying they’re an expert at anything. It reminds me about what I love in the kitchen; the successes and failures, the trying of new things. It gets really easy to fall into a rut, and this group pulls me back out of it.
So much of everything we see nowadays focuses only on the good things, the stuff worth celebrating. We’ve all had Facebook Jealousy, or Pinterest Envy, when seeing other people posting the best things of their lives, while ours might not always be perfect (this is a great article on the topic). I have definitely measured myself up against others on social media and felt, in the end, lacking. It seems sometimes that everyone I know is out living the high life, while I’m sitting here at home with my hair looking greasy and no milk in the fridge. Again.
Yet I know, deep down, that it isn’t actually true (I hope)- that I’m not the only one with some dissatisfaction in my life. That no one out there is leading some perfect existence, and to remember that Instagram filters make even the greyest day look romantic, and all those perfect posts I see are only telling half a story.
So I’m taking my oozy, mistake laden penuche fail, and making it into butterscotch topping for ice cream. I’m enjoying the final recipe that actually worked (see below) and not beating myself up over the less-than photos and my kitchen floor in need of sweeping. And I’ll (try to) remember that everyone has a part of their lives they’d rather keep unsaid, and that envying someone’s ama-zing concert seats on Facebook is, in truth, silly.
But I’m still not posting the ugly photos. Some things just can’t be helped, you know. you can click here if you want more dessert recipes.
Hazelnut Penuche Recipe
Hazelnut Penuche Recipe
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 2/3 heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup crushed hazelnuts
- Layer a 6″x4″ baking dish with foil or parchment paper, leaving some hanging over the sides. Generously butter and set aside.
- Heat the brown sugar and heavy cream over medium-low heat until it just starts to boil, then turn the heat down to low. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and stir the sugar until the thermometer reads 240*F, or soft-ball stage. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Once the temperature is 240*, remove the sugar from the heat and add the butter, but do not stir the butter in. Let the mixture sit until the temperature is at least 140*F- about 20 to 30 minutes.
- When the temp is low enough, begin mixing with a hand mixer on low. Mix, about 5-7 minutes, until the candy has thickened and any gloss has started to fade.
- Pour the candy into the buttered dish and smooth out any large bumps. Layer the crushed hazelnuts on top evenly, and set in the fridge at least 2 hours, or until firm. Remove from the dish by pulling up on the overhang side of parchment or foil, and cut into squares. Store tightly wrapped and chilled.