07 Dec 2012 Peanut Brittle

Three years ago, maybe four, I made some peanut brittle for some end-of-the-year gifts for my children’s teachers and coaches.  No problem.  Two months ago I made some peanut brittle as samples for a craft fair.  No problem.  Two days before the craft fair I made two batches of peanut brittle.  LOTS of problems. Both batches were big flops.   Crisis!  I needed some peanut brittle to sell, I needed it fast, and I needed it to be fabulous.

Thank goodness for the Internet!  I spent a few hours reading everything I could about making peanut brittle.  I took notes.  I highlighted.  I found sites that swore microwaved peanut brittle was the way to go.  I was all for it, but as (my) luck would have it, my microwave died the same day as the peanut brittle flopped.  (Where is my guardian angel!?)   I abandoned my old recipe, and went with a recipe that seemed to have the best chance of success (and that I could cook the “old fashioned” way, on the top of the stove), a twenty year old recipe from Bon Apetite, found on Epicurious.com.

I got out my heaviest pans. I hooked up my candy thermometer.   I also hooked up my instant read thermometer.   I put on my lucky apron.  I banished the grandchildren from the kitchen. I put on Christmas music. I was going to be double extra careful.  This was do or die day. I had to get two batches of really good peanut brittle into the cute boxes with the cute bows and the cute tags ASAP.

It worked.  PHEW.  I am glad to share with you the winning recipe, with all the hints and tips.  Good Luck!  As long as you don’t make this on an especially wet/humid day–and follow these direction and all my hints and tips–you should be OK.  But please note, this is important, the times are approximate.  I have a very powerful gas range, and I am an aggressive cook, so the times noted are the ones that worked for me.  If  you have an electric stove and/or are a cautious cook, your times might be twice as long.  Trust your candy thermometer (and your back up thermometer)  and pay attention to color.

One batch of this will make about 3 ½ lbs of peanut brittle.  That’s a lot of peanut brittle. I made two batches and was able to put 7 lbs of peanut brittle up for sale, to benefit my favorite organization, Dining For Women, YAY!

Totally Nuts Peanut Brittle

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • ¾ cup dark corn syrup
  • 3-4 cups salted cocktail peanuts (whole or coarsely chopped–I left mine whole)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Stir the sugar, water, light and dark corn syrup, and salt together in a large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.  (TIPS:  Use a really large, heavy pan (mixture will foam up, a lot, in the last step).  I used a five quart stock pot.  The dark corn syrup is for color.  You can use all light corn syrup if you want. The sugar isn’t be dissolved until you can see the bottom of the pan.)
  2. Take your spoon out of the mixture and leave it out for this entire step.  Clip your candy thermometer to the edge of the pan.  Be sure the tip of the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to high, and BOIL the mixture, without stirring, until the candy thermometer registers 280 degrees F, about 40 minutes. (TIPS:  The mixture will stay at 220 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, don’t worry about it, your thermometer is not broken.  The temperature will go up a bit faster after passing the 220 degree F. mark.  To reassure yourself, use a second thermometer, if you have one.)
  3. Preheat your oven to 225 degrees.  Put two (or three) large rimmed cookie trays into the oven to warm.  Just before your mixture reaches the 295 degree mark (next step) take the pans out of the oven and lightly grease with a bit of butter.
  4. Pour the nuts and the butter into the boiling mixture (this will cause a temperature drop).  Use your spoon now, and keep your eye on the thermometer/s.  Stir the mixture constantly until it reaches 295 degrees F., about 15 minutes.  (TIPS:  I prefer to use 3 cups of nuts, because I like more brittle than nuts, 4 cups of nuts makes a very nutty brittle.  Watch the color, you want that deep rich amber color.  One or two degrees over 295 will be fine–if you work quickly in the next step, but don’t go much higher than that.  The temperature will move fast now, and you could easily burn a batch! On the other hand, under no circumstances should you stop cooking before reaching 295 degrees–or you’ll have “Peanut Bendy and Sticky” instead of “Peanut Brittle”.)
  5. Yell for help. A child should not answer this call.
  6. Remove the pan from heat.  Stir in baking soda and vanilla and stir briskly.  Mixture will foam up.  Keep stirring. (TIPS: This is why you used a large pan. If you didn’t use a large pan your mixture might bubble out of the pan and onto the counter.  This is not a good thing. Under no circumstances should you touch the hot, Hot HOT mixture.)
  7. Being very careful and using your best hot mitts to protect your hands and arms, immediately pour mixture onto the warm and greased cookie trays.  If anyone answered your call for help have them spread the peanut brittle as thinly as possible across the trays. (TIPS: Do not get burned.  Do not burn your helper.  Banish all pets and children from the area. Do not touch the pan. Do not touch the peanut brittle.)
  8. Put the pans of peanut brittle in the warm oven for 2-3 minutes. This should help the peanut brittle spread evenly over the bottom of the pans.
  9. Remove pans from oven and let sit until cold and hard.
  10. Break brittle into pieces and store in airtight containers at room temperature for a month or more.
  11. Pat yourself on your back for a job well done.
That’s IT!  I hope this recipe helps you make the most delicious Peanut Brittle ever!
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

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