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Peanut Brittle

June 4, 2012
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This stuff comes with a disclaimer: homemade peanut brittle is seriously delicious.  It’s fresher than anything you could buy in the store; it’s buttery, with just a hint of salt to bring out the peanut taste.   It’s addictive.  But you can’t say I didn’t give fair warning: you might find yourself unable to stop at one piece.  My rationale?  Peanuts have protein, so–somewhere deep, deep down–this brittle must be nutritious.  Don’t question it… let’s just move on.

To make your own brittle, you do need a little bit of special equipment, namely a thermometer and a silicone mat.  Since all of the steps must be done at specific temperatures, I like to set up all of my ingredients and equipment first, including the silicone mat at the end.

If you’re like me and hate cleaning up hardened sugar from all over your kitchen, keep a tall, narrow container filled with hot water right next to your boiling sugar solution.  If you keep your equipment in there, neither the equipment nor your kitchen surfaces gets the least bit sticky!  (I was pretty proud when I came up with that one, so I just had to share it.)

Just for a couple of visual aids, this is approximately the color your sugar will be when you add the peanuts.  It’s only at 264º, so it won’t have taken on any color.  Note that the bubbles are still white.

And the brittle should be about this color when you pull it from the heat at 318º.  It might seem a little dark for peanut brittle…

But when you add the baking soda, the mixture will foam and significantly lighten in color.

When you first pour the brittle onto your silicone mat, it will be fairly thick.

About like this.

After you stretch it, it should be a little thinner.

About like that.

And once you break it into pieces, you should probably store it in an attractive glass jar.  Just sayin’.

Finally, once I’ve poured out the brittle, I refill my pot with hot water and boil it for 1-2 minutes to release any bits of brittle that have gotten stuck on the pan.  They should come right off, making even the final step in candymaking a breeze!  To give you an idea, I made this peanut brittle start-to-finish and cleaned all of my equipment in about 25 minutes this morning, which [spoiler alert!] makes it a strong contender for the candy component of this year’s Christmas tins.  And since I’m sure you shouldn’t wait another six months to try it, I strongly suggest you give it a shot before then.  Enjoy!

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Peanut Brittle

I have also made this successfully with almonds instead of peanuts, and I’d like to test it with macadamia nuts.  I suspect that walnuts and pecans would be a little too soft to make brittle, but it’s always worth an experiment!

—–

7 oz sugar

3 oz water

5 oz glucose or corn syrup

8 oz peanuts, blanched [I like mine lightly toasted, but they will continue to toast when you add them to the hot sugar syrup, so be careful not to go crazy with the pre-toasting.]

1/8 oz salt

1/2 oz butter

3/4 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking soda

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup on high heat.  Stir just until it comes to a boil; then cook without stirring until mixture reaches 264º.

2. Continuing on high heat, add the nuts and the salt.  Stir gently until the mixture reaches 318º.  By this point the sugar will start to take on some color, so don’t panic!  Just keep a close eye on your thermometer, and you’re good to go.

3. When mixture reaches 318º, pull it from the heat and add the butter, vanilla, and baking soda.  When you add the baking soda, the brittle will change color and you will see a significant rise in volume.  Just keep stirring until the mixture looks homogenous throughout.

4. Pour the brittle onto a greased silicone mat.  Now comes the tricky part.  Once the brittle has cooled just enough so that you don’t burn yourself, but before it cools completely and sets, you will need to pull it thinner.  You can either wear two pairs of food-safe gloves and pull the brittle by hand, or you can place a second silicone mat (also greased) on top of the brittle and press it as thin as possible.  Either way, you will have very warm hands–but if you work carefully, you shouldn’t burn yourself at all.

5. Once the brittle has reached the desired thickness, allow it to cool completely on the silicone mat.  When it is cool, break it into rough pieces with your hands.  And voilà, homemade peanut brittle is yours!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. fiona permalink
    June 4, 2012 9:47 AM

    Omg, actually salivating! How absolutely necessary is that thermometer? I don’t suppose one can eyeball 264º or 318º? :S

    • June 6, 2012 5:18 PM

      You absolutely can! 264º is within the “hard ball stage.” So, if you’re adventurous, you can dip your fingers into icy water, into the boiling sugar, and *immediately* back into the icy water. The solid sugar that you pull out of the water should be–you guessed it–a hard ball. And by 318º, you can go by color (see picture above.) Let me know if you try it!

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