Penuche memories

At age 12 (?) I decided to take on the very important task of making the family’s traditional holiday dessert, Penoche. My mother was nearby for guidance but I wanted to make it myself. “The recipe has only five ingredients. How hard can it be?”

Mix and bring to a boil:

  • Brown sugar. Check!
  • White sugar. Check!
  • Milk. Check!
  • Butter size very small egg. Check!

Heat and stir.

“Hey Mom, this doesn’t look right. How come the egg is cooking and getting all lumpy?”

“EGG? There isn’t any egg in penoche!”

“Sure there is. See? (as I point to the recipe card) Butter size very small egg.”

My 12-year-old brain reads this as an egg the size of butter. This is an old recipe —I don’t know, maybe sticks of butter used to be very small.

Suffice it to say I had to start all over again.

We wish you health, happiness, and local foods for all!
~Laurie Hepworth

Here is our beloved family recipe:


About eSS&SC

The South Shore and South Coast has been home to hunting, gathering, fishing, farming––and great eating––for over 10,000 years. We are committed to identifying, devouring, and sharing all that Southeastern Massachusetts has to offer today and preserving local options for future generations.
This entry was posted in Bakery, General Interest, recipe. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Penuche memories

  1. Marilyn Buckner says:

    I have several old recipes that call for a piece of butter the size of an egg. I also have recipes that call for an egg to measure 1/4 cup – but that would be a larger egg. So….. I’d call a small egg sized piece to be about 3 TBSP.
    Marilyn Buckner

  2. Karen says:

    Have a wonderful holiday season.

  3. Craig says:

    (Laurie’s brother chiming in…)
    I remember that batch of penuche! It was actually not bad, just had a few slightly chewy bits of egg amongst all the sweet goodness.
    I LOVE the photos of the recipe card!! Looks like an ancient manuscript, the Dead Sea Scrolls or something.

  4. Erin says:

    Hi Laurie,
    Love the story of your first cooking experience! Having the “original” hand written recipe is awesome!
    Was thinking I might try making this for Billy shhhh 😉
    Do you have a modern version of the recipe or any hints as far as what kind of pan to put it into, buttered?
    At the risk of sounding like a 12 yr old , the tipping for 2 minutes, has me a little worried. When I’ve made fudge in the past I put the pan in a sink of cold water and stirred. Do you think your recipe might be done that way?
    Wishing you and Michael a wonderful Christmas ! Can’t wait to read this new issue !
    Merry merry

    • eSS says:

      Hi Erin, I don’t have a modern day version sorry – just remember NO egg 🙂
      Hints: I used an organic sugar this year and I think it caused it to cook quicker and created a harder fudge. I only boiled for about 7 minutes before it reached the soft-ball size. We always dropped a teaspoon of the penoche into a ramekin of cold water to test.
      I did put it into a buttered 8×8 pan. It didn’t even fill the pan to the edges, you may want to double the recipe. It’s really hot at this point so be careful where you leave the pan to cool. Do not leave it on a hardwood kitchen table (ugh).
      You don’t really need to tip if for two minutes, it will start to set (and lose it’s shininess) as you beat it. Warning this is arm tiring. Again my set much quicker than I remember (due the the type of sugar? or due to the fact that everything seems to have taken longer as a child, especially if it had to do with food.)
      Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas as well!

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