Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Peanut Brittle Recipe for Thanksgiving or Holiday Host Gift

November 8th, 2010 · 1 Comment

My friend and fellow food blogger, Anderson Greene (a budding gourmet confectioner) just tempted me into making peanut brittle. (See his blog post about it at his site, The Broken Ganache, here.)

I don’t think he’ll mind my using his partner Andrew Meade’s glorious photo of the brittle, so long as I credit him:

Peanut Brittle by Anderson Greene /photo copyright by Andrew Meade 2010

Don’t you wish you had lick-o-vision on the computer or an app for it?

So here I go, shopping for peanuts to make brittle. Today, I think I’m going to forgo raw peanuts, my typical nut of choice, and choose the salty, skinned Spanish peanuts already roasted. You can, however, use any nut you want (or fruits like raisins, cranberries, cherries – or seeds). Make it your own, but pay attention to the directions.

For best results

Here are top tips for making this crunchy-good candy.

  • Choose a dry day to make brittle.
  • Candy making requires your undivided attention. Turn off the phone, the TV and put the dog outside.
  • Have all your utensils and ingredients lined up, measured and ready to go – this comes together in an instant. Especially have your buttered pans for pouring the finished candy into nearby and on a stable work surface.
  • Use a heavy-bottomed pot – I use my cast-iron skillet and it works beautifully.
  • You’ll be working with hot sugar – the worst of foods to cause skin burns. Wear long mitts when handling the pans and pouring, and keep tots out of the kitchen.
  • Plan to make more than one batch at a time – it’s easy and quick to do all at once, and makes a lovely gift for a host. It lasts a long while on the shelf properly packed (though I don’t find it freezes well).

Peanut Brittle Recipe

Note: Have all ingredients measured and nearby for immediate use; have buttered pans ready for pouring.

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups raw peanuts – see note
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, optional
  • sea salt for sprinkling, optional
  • Equipment:
    Heavy bottomed 4-quart pan or 12-inch iron skillet
    Rimmed cookie sheets or jelly roll pans
    Candy thermometer (or glass of ice water and teaspoon – see note within recipe)
    two large forks
    oven mitts for handling hot pan
    Wooden spoon for stirring

Butter well 2 large cookie sheets with rims, or jelly roll pans. Set nearby on a flat, heatproof surface.
In a 12-inch iron skillet or 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water. Heat on medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, without stirring; when mixture is at a full boil, stir in peanuts.
Continue cooking on medium heat, stirring over medium heat, until mixture is golden brown and reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. (I like this one because it has a clip and doubles as a deep-fry thermometer, too: CIA Masters Collection Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer.)
Note – If you don’t have a candy thermometer, drop the liquid from a teaspoon into a glass of ice water – mixture will harden rapidly and form brittle strings of sugar from the teaspoon at 300 degrees. This is called the “hard-ball stage.”
Working very quickly, remove the pan from the stove and immediately stir in butter or margarine and baking soda – the mixture will foam up and lighten in color at this point. Add vanilla and stir rapidly; pour out all at once onto the buttered cookie sheets.
Using forks (DO NOT TOUCH WITH BARE HANDS!) stretch the peanut mixture to the edges of the pan and distribute nuts; cool completely.
Move candy to a cutting board. Break candy with a meat mallet, or snap apart into irregular pieces about 2-by-3-inches. Store the candy in a tin, with layers or pieces separated by waxed paper. Wrapping individual pieces, or half-slabs in waxed paper or parchment makes a nice hostess gift.
Makes 2 pounds brittle.
Note: Raw peanuts are ideal, but roasted (either dry-roasted or with oil) nuts also can be used. Take into account the salt on the nuts before adding salt to this recipe. I like to use coarse sea salt to sprinkle over the brittle as it hardens.
Variations: Use any nuts desired: Macadamias, almonds, hazelnuts and pecans all make good brittle. If desired, fold in with the baking soda raisins or other dried fruits, or seeds such as sunflower seeds or sesame seeds, or spread them in the buttered pan before making the brittle.
Add chocolate and flavorings: You also can spread the warm brittle with white or dark chocolate as desired for a chocolate-covered brittle.
Instead of vanilla extract, substitute in like amounts bourbon, rum, coffee liqueur, chocolate liqueur, or a nut-based liqueur as a flavoring.

Tags: Holiday cooking · Recipes: What's Cooking!

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Terri // Nov 29, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Hi. I use the Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts to make my Peanut Brittle for years now. I’ve used almonds before and it turned out delicious as well. This looks very similar to the recipe that I make. I found it in a local church cookbook that I purchase at the church bazaar years ago.

    I would like to try the chocolate on top and/or adding liquor in place of the vanilla this year for something new.

    Not tried the sea salt sprinkled on it before. Using salts seems to be very popular recently in making candies, etc.

    Thanks for sharing your recipe and comments. Have a great day!

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