Hundred-year-old Panocha Recipe

When it comes to holiday cooking at my house, old-fashioned candies are a “must make,” so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old Panocha recipe.

Panocha is a delightful old-fashioned brown sugar fudge with the typical walnuts.

Sometimes I have issues with fudge, but this recipe was quick and easy to make. The Panocha was creamy with a nice caramel flavor,

Here is the original recipe:

Source: The Text-book of Cooking (1915) by Carlotta Greer

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:


  • Servings: 20-25 pieces
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 cups light brown sugar

½ cup milk

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup walnuts, chopped

Combine brown sugar and milk in saucepan; add cream of tartar and stir. Continue stirring while heating over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Quit stirring and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to low and continue boiling (without stirring) until candy reaches the soft ball stage (235-240 degrees F.) (about 10-15 minutes).  Stir in butter and remove from heat, beat until the mixture thickens. Stir in walnuts. Pour into a buttered 8 X 8 inch pan. When cool, cut into pieces.

58 thoughts on “Hundred-year-old Panocha Recipe

  1. I haven’t had this since probably the late 1960s. Mom used to make it all the time. I just pulled out her recipe and saw that she spelled it “penuche.” It’s a different spelling, but I’ll bet it’s the same great taste. The recipes are almost exactly the same, too. Like chocolate fudge, it’s not complicated.

    1. There must be several different spellings. I struggled to spell this candy the way it was spelled in the old recipe. Every time I typed it, I automatically spelled it the way your mother did – and then had to go back and correct it.

    1. I think that you could skip the nuts without any change in quality. However, you may need put the fudge in a smaller pan. The additional of the walnuts definitely increased the volume of the mixture.

  2. I’ve seen several candy recipes recently and this one reminded me I need to get a new thermometer and get started! Looks delicious and not too hard – thank you!

    1. One of my children got me a new thermometer for my birthday – and it really helps to have a good thermometer. Until I started having problems with my old thermometer, I hadn’t realized that thermometers can lose their calibration over time.

  3. I have a recipe for this that calls for pecans instead of walnuts. Now I am debating whether or not I should concentrate my efforts on making cookies or candy for Christmas. My great-grandma has fantastic recipes for both.

    1. Pecans would work well in this recipe. The hundred-year-old recipe just said “nuts.” I used walnuts when I made the recipe, and that is what I listed in the ingredients section of the updated recipe – but maybe I over-interpreted the old recipe and should have just listed “nuts” when I updated it.

        1. Hmm. . . I don’t know. I’m not familiar with raw coconut sugar (though it sounds delicious). Can it generally be substituted for brown sugar? The Panocha definitely has a bit of the caramel flavor that comes from the brown sugar.

          1. I might try it… is is light brown in colour as it is raw and not bleached but more like demerera texture not fine like brown sugar but it should melt….

  4. My grandmother used to make this, I couldn’t find the recipe and I think she just had it in her head (most of the things she made were never written down). It would show up with almost any kind of nuts in it, cashews, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and one year with sesame seeds so I think the “nuts” was to indicate whatever was on hand. I WILL be making this as soon as possible.

    1. Thanks for the information. The options you describe sound wonderful and make me want to make the recipe again so I can try putting another kind of nuts in it. One of my favorite things about old recipes is how simple and flexible they are. Most recipes only have a few ingredients and were easy for cooks to keep in their heads – and they could make adjustments based on what foods were available.

  5. Penuche is my absolute favorite fudge! (with and without nuts). I make it every year at Christmas…. I may need to make it twice, now and for Christmas!

    1. I must admit that I use both a thermometer and the soft ball/hard ball method. Somehow I feel more confident that the candy is ready to remove from the heat if I double check the temperature using two methods.

  6. My mother used to make something like this. I didn’t know it was called panocha. Although it looked easy I didn’t ever manage a successful batch when I was living at home.:(

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