Friday, November 18, 2011

Peanut Brittle

One thing that I would say I cannot make is candy. My mom is an excellent candy maker and she makes dozens of different types of candies, including knock-offs of popular items like twix bars, altoid mints, etc. I tried to make peanut brittle a couple of years ago. It was nasty. The first batch tasted like baking soda, and the second batch I burned.
I guess I am not very persistent when it comes to food. If I make something twice and it doesn't turn out it usually ends up on the back burner (figuratively). I may return to it later, but I usually don't keep trying. I don't like wasting food and I don't like eating things that didn't turn out so that sort of puts me in an awkward spot.
So, recently, I had a change of heart and decided to try peanut brittle again. It turned out perfect. I made another batch. This too, was perfect. I made a third batch. I burned it. Ah, well....what can you do?

This peanut brittle recipe was from my mother, who, in turn, got it from her mother. I made a few alterations (doubled the salt, reduced the peanuts, and rewrote the recipe so I could better follow it) and voila-there you have it.
Also, you can use this recipe to make any single nut brittle, or combine leftover raw nuts you have on hand to create your own mixture. Feel free to sprinkle chocolate chips on the top after the brittle has cooled for just a minute or two, and spread them around. You can top with chopped nuts or dried fruits, coconut, etc. You get the idea.

Peanut Brittle
2 cups sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups blanched raw peanuts
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda

Spray one large or two medium size baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large pot heat sugar, corn syrup, and water over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring. Add nuts and salt and continue to cook until mixture reaches 300 degrees (hard-crack stage). This will take about 15 minutes, so be patient and keep stirring to keep the peanuts from burning. (Once it begins to brown test it in a cup of ice water until it reaches the hard-crack stage). Remove from heat and add the butter, baking soda, and vanilla, vigorously whisking while adding. Be sure to thoroughly mix.
Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet(s). After it cools, lift off of pan and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container. Tightly stored brittle will keep for at least one month.

Note: for candy making, neither me nor my mom use a thermometer (gasp!) If you have a cup of ice water sitting next to the stove, and a small spoon to fish out the test results, you can have consistent results with candy. Simply drizzle a bit of the hot mixture into the ice water and fish it out as soon as it has cooled. Try it. Brittle is ready when it is brittle, or in the 'hard-crack' stage.

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