I don't know why I avoided peanut brittle for so long...I guess in contrast to so many other favorite goodies it was often overlooked. Brittle? There's nothing appetizing about brittle, at all. I like peanuts, I like crumbly, I like chewy...but brittle? Whatever, I don't know who decided to name it such, but it kept me from becoming a fan for too long.
But the other day, my sisters and I popped over to my good friend Nellie's house to help with some baking and to try to bring about some Christmas cheer; even though the ground lacked snow. We walked in and herded ourselves into the cozy little kitchen, and we were greeted by a black, smoky bubbling mass in the microwave. "You guys came at the right time..." Nellie said.
So while my sister chiseled out (literally) the blackened mixture, the rest of us set about to whip up another batch. With some careful stirring and frequent checks, the next was a big success. I believe I really fell in love with peanut brittle then, making it with a good friend; determined to not let a recipe beat us.
Every piece I eat reminds me of my grandma for some reason...she likely made this and it's probably something she loved as well. It's a usual thing to find lying around at family gatherings this time of year, and it's too often underestimated. Don't be fooled.
I wanted to share this, I wanted to make my own version. So guess what I did with my friend Lydia today?
It was lovely. I enjoyed the whole day (notwithstanding my poor choice in walking weather...sorry Lydia...), but I think I liked this best of all. Despite the fact that this girl is on a fast right now (crazy, but I so admire her for doing it at Christmas), she helped and watched us all stuff ourselves. I felt kinda bad...but not that bad. Heh. We bought her pomegranates and bananas to eat. It's all good.
I was told that the product of this humble ol' recipe was the best peanut brittle ever; this said by very experienced tasters.
I haven't yet mastered the trick of spreading this evenly, and my mother recommended the use of greased wax paper, rather than just greased cookie sheets, for easier removal (yay, more chiseling!). Maybe parchment? I'll try it sometime, use whatever floats your boat. Just make this. Be warned though, it's super addictive.
Yield: Entirely depends on how many pieces you break it into
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. water
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 pound shelled unroasted peanuts
Mix baking soda, 1 tsp. water and the vanilla; set aside. Mix sugar, 1 cup water and the corn syrup in a 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it registers 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Stir in the butter and peanuts. Cook, stirring constantly, until it registers 300 degrees. Watch carefully so the mixture does not burn. When reached, immediately remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda mixture.
Pour half of the candy onto each cookie sheet and quickly spread about 1/4 inch thick. Cool and break into pieces.
Sources: Betty Crocker's Cookbook