Monday, December 1, 2008

Sauerkraut Candy

Be not afraid.

There is no actual sauerkraut in this candy. (Though, let it be known, sauerkraut goes great in sweets, especially in chocolately sauerkraut cake. No, really.)

Trust me. Trust the editors of the Farm Journal's Homemade Candy. This is good stuff.
Sauerkraut Candy Comes Back

Most youngsters never heard of Sauerkraut Candy, but oldsters know it well. The "sauerkraut" is shredded coconut and you team it with penuche. Many grocery stores throughout the Midwest sold it from barrels during the Gay Nineties. It held its place in the sun until World War I. Then for some reason it almost disappeared. Make it once and you may stage a revival, for the candy tastes extra-good.

Sauerkraut Candy
You can't miss with this combination of lots of coconut in penuche

2 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1 1/3 c. dairy half-and-half
1/4 c. butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. shredded coconut

Combine sugars, corn syrup and half-and-half in a 3-qt. heavy saucepan with buttered sides. Cooked over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking to the soft ball stage (238 to 240°).

Remove from heat; add butter and salt without stirring. Cool to lukewarm (110°). Add vanilla and beat until creamy; mixture loses gloss and becomes opaque.

Fold in coconut all at once. Pour onto buttered and chilled platter or into an 8" square pan. Cut in slices if thick or in 49 squares if molded in pan. Makes about 2 1/4 pounds.
You may be wondering what the heck penuche is. I'd never heard the word before. Turns out, it's a brown-sugar fudge. I know, I know... fudge overload. But it's more caramel-y than the average fudge; Wikipedia describes some uses:
Penuche is also used as a boiled icing flavor. It was once very popular in Hawaii where the name was localized as Panocha or Panuche. "Panocha" is said to come from the Spanish word for raw sugar. Hawaiian cooks often reminisce about both panocha fudge and icing. As an icing, it was common as topping for prune cake. Other names for Penuche include Noochie and creamy praline fudge.
Ooooo. Oooo, I like the idea of a prune cake, and of a brown sugar fudge-tastic icing. This appeals to my inner Icelandic self, which believes that all winter holidays should have pastries made from prunes (see: family recipe for vinaterta, which I should really post here at some point).

I was stopped in my tracks by the phrase "Gay Nineties"; when did we stop giving decades cute monikers? The Roaring Twenties is the last one that springs easily to mind. Surely we could come up with some more.

I think the author of the recipe pulls a few punches, or is willfully ignoring the obvious. If "for some reason" a recipe with a Germanic name drops from public usage sometime within the lifetime of folks who ate it during the Gay Nineties, it's not a big mystery. It's called The War. Even sauerkraut wasn't called sauerkraut anymore; it became Liberty cabbage.

Coconut is one of those things that I adore, that I know many people loathe, and that I can't understand anyone disliking. It's so mild. So tasty. So delightful. Chefly Husband, thankfully, adores it, even though his father twitches at the mere thought of the shredded horror.


  1. What an interesting blog this is! I love old cookbooks.

    I love sauerkraut, too, so I guess I have to try this... though it still seems a little out there...

  2. I made this candy today, but am wondering if "cool to lukewarm (110 degrees)" is a typo. At 140 degrees, mine was so hard, I had to reheat it! Perhaps cooling the mixture to 200 degrees would make more sense...