Tomorrow I’m hosting a volunteer appreciation at my workplace. Every one of the volunteers appreciates history but several are also interested in culinary history. I thought it might be nice to include a treat from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book among the refreshments. I decided to make Penuchie, a recipe contributed by Mrs. J. M. Staebler.
I put three cups of brown sugar in a large sauce pan and added one cup of milk. I started with the heat on low until the sugar dissolved and then turned up the heat. I was surprised by how long it took to reach the soft ball stage. I think it was about twenty minutes. However, once that little drop of liquid turned into a ball as soon as it hit the water, I had to move fast. I stirred the teaspoon of butter and a cup of chopped walnuts into the mixture. I poured it all into a greased square pan and let it cool a bit before marking into squares.
I’m not exactly sure who is Mrs. J. M. Staebler. Jacob Merner Staebler was a prominent man in Berlin. Based on Waterloo Generations both his first and second wives predeceased him and he died in 1906 so I’m not sure who contributed this recipe. The 1901 census shows him with his three young children and a servant but not a wife. He’s disappeared in the 1911 census.
I don’t know how to pronounce Penuche but know it is a type of fudge. However, a quick listen on the internet taught me to say “panoochie” — no wonder it was spelled penuchie by Mrs. Staebler. This is a very nice candy. I should have used larger pieces of walnuts rather than the small chopped bits I had on hand but it is still good.
Boil 3 cups light brown sugar and 1 cup milk, till it forms a soft ball, in cold water. Stir in 1 teaspoon butter and 1 cup pecan or walnut meat, chopped a little, continue to stir, till mixture becomes creamy and begins to stiffen, then turn into buttered pan. Should be firm enough, when cold to be cut into squares.