This type of fudge is a demanding diva. But if you swoon over the icing on a caramel cake, this is the fudge for you. To make this candy turn out perfectly, follow the recipe carefully and trust your candy thermometer. In New England, this candy is called penuche, a derivation of the Italian word panucci (which is related to the word for baker) or the Spanish word panocha (which means raw sugar).
This classic candy is a testament to the talent of thrifty cooks who could craft sweet treats out of the inexpensive items that were readily available in most kitchens. Unseasoned mashed potatoes are thickened to the consistency of modeling clay with powdered sugar, then rolled into a thin rectangle. The surface is spread with peanut butter, rolled into a log, and cut into pinwheels. The secret ingredient is a guaranteed conversation starter.
No one can believe that this irresistible toffee is quick and easy, much less made with saltines. Because the ingredients are often on hand, you can whip up a batch of this candy at the drop of a hat. It’s a great cooking project to share with children.