Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Old-Fashioned Peanut Brittle the Easy Way!

There are all kinds of methods and theories for making perfect peanut brittle. There are those who insist you cannot make it without a candy thermometer. Some swear by the back of spoon trick, or the water test. Frankly, I find them all daunting and off-putting, even a bit scary. I need things to be easy, so I have always been happy to leave the candy-making to other people. My Aunt Harriett has been making the most delicious peanut brittle during the holidays for as long as I can remember. I just assumed she dragged out all of the same accoutrements everyone else did and stood by nervously staring at a candy thermometer trying to gauge the right temperature. “Not true,” she told me rather matter-of-factly one year. “Grandma never used a candy thermometer to make peanut brittle, so I’ve never used one. I go by the color. Light golden brown is the key.” She also told me she throws the peanuts in at the beginning because “it’s just easier.” Her words were a revelation and just like that, I’ve been undaunted ever since.

Old-Fashioned Peanut Brittle

Yields about 2 pounds

3 cups sugar
3 cups salted, dry roasted peanuts
1 cup Karo syrup
½ cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for buttering pan
1 teaspoon baking soda

Butter the bottom of a large sheet pan; set aside.

Combine peanuts, sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture is the color of light brown sugar, about 5 minutes. Resist the temptation to push the browning past the point of “light golden brown,” as Aunt Harriett says, or it will undoubtedly take on the taste of burnt sugar, undoubtedly landing you somewhere on the other side of good. Remove saucepan from heat, and stir in the butter and baking soda; stir quickly as the mixture will begin to foam up. Pour onto the prepared sheet pan. Use a wooden spoon to stretch the brittle as thinly as possible over the sheet pan. Allow the brittle to cool completely, about 45 minutes, then break into bite-size shards. Brittle can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

1 comment:

  1. My mom always used a thermometer, so initially, I did too. I now have a microwave recipe that's much easier, and just as tasty. (Mother's trick for getting the brittle nice and thin, was to put her cookie sheet in a warm oven until she was ready to pour the candy.) However you make it, it's always readily accepted.