Loretta Lynn’s Peanut Fudge

Loretta Lynn is one of country music’s most revered stars. She’s won Grammys, had a movie made about her, and has had numerous #1 hit songs. Her tumultuous relationship with her husband, Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn, was often the subject of her emotional tunes. Despite their ups and downs and her own rising musical success, the pair had 6 children. One of her favorite treats to make for the family was peanut butter fudge. She would sometimes get a craving in the middle of the night and make it then! According to her daughter, Peggy, her mother was nuts about peanut candies of various kinds, including Paydays, owing to her sweet tooth. During a rough patch financially her mom even sold her fudge to make ends meet. Here’s how to make her famous peanut butter fudge.

For this recipe you’ll need:

3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup milk
1/2 stick butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
unsalted, roasted peanuts
salt for garnish

Combine the milk and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until thick, stirring all the while to dissolve the sugar crystals. Bring this to what Loretta called a “molten boil”, raising the burner temperature slightly if needed. In candy-making terms the ideal fudge temperature is 235˚F to 245˚F.

You can test this without a thermometer by dropping a tiny bit of the mixture into a bowl of cold water. If you have a little ball of candy that you can flatten with your fingers then it’s ready. This is called the soft-ball stage. If it’s too sticky or if it doesn’t form a ball then you haven’t hit the right temperature.

Once you have the right temp you have “work quickly” since it will set up very fast. Add in the butter, vanilla, and peanut butter and stir well. Peggy says you also can add in 1/2 cup of maple syrup for an extra hit of flavor. She also says you can use either creamy or crunchy peanut butter and that her mom used both at different times.

Pour this into a greased 8″x8″ pan. Then top with crushed peanuts before it sets. Peggy crushes the peanuts with the bottom of a ramekin on a butting board. It looks a whole lot easier than chopping them! The finishing touch is to sprinkle a little salt on top. Then you have to let it set at room temperature for a couple of hours before cutting into squares.