But in the meantime I can share one of the recipes from the dessert table – Old Fashioned Peanut Brittle! Peanut brittle is one of those candies that one associates with one’s grandma (at least I do). It’s an American original (although undoubtedly with European influences) that appeared in the 1st cookbook in the 1890s. You can really make brittle from any variety of nuts or seeds, but peanut is definitely the classic.
The process is to heat sugar with nuts until it reaches the hard crack stage and then pour out onto a greased surface to cool. When it cools you then “crack” it into bite-sized pieces. This recipe is adapted from the Betty Crocker classic peanut brittle recipe. The original recipe calls for unroasted unsalted peanuts which you add when the sugar reaches the soft ball stage (240 degrees). I had a hard time finding unroasted nuts, so I went with the roasted variety from Trader Joes. To prevent any issues with burning the roasted nuts, I added them closer to the end of the cook time.
If you can find unroasted nuts, feel free to use these- and add these earlier in the candy making process- as cooking the nuts longer will give the peanut brittle an extra peanut-y taste. All in all I found that this recipe, although requiring close monitoring, was quite easy to make successfully. There were no issues like making caramel where you have to be worried about it bubbling up and burning your hands, and, while you want to pour your candy quickly once it’s to temperature, you do have quite a bit of time (i.e. time enough to pull your cookie sheets out of the oven) before it hardens.
One pro tip though – I absolutely would not attempt to make this without a candy thermometer. You really need to watch closely and carefully to the temperature changes to make sure that your candy will come out successfully. Hope you enjoy this fall treat as much as we did! Coming up soon: baby shower pics!
Old Fashioned Peanut Brittle
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups shelled roasted peanuts
- Grease two cookie sheets with butter and place in a 200 degree oven to keep warm.
- In a small dish stir together baking soda, 1 teaspoon water, and vanilla - reserve.
- In another small dish place butter and salt- reserve.
- In a 3 quart saucepan pour sugar, water, and corn syrup. Place a candy thermometer in the mixture and heat over medium, stirring intermittently, until mixture reaches 240 degrees.
- Then, add the butter and salt, and then begin stirring constantly.
- Watch the temperature very closely - your goal temp is 300 degrees. I took the baking sheets out of the oven at 280 degrees, and dumped in the peanuts at 290 degrees. (Adding the peanuts late in the game prevents the nuts from burning).
- When your peanut candy mixture reaches 300 degrees, immediately turn off the heat and pour in the baking soda mixture.
- Stir until everything is combined and color turns pale orange and foamy.
- Quickly pour evenly between the 2 greased cookie sheets.
- Spread with a spatula to desired thickness.
- Cool for 1 hour, then break into pieces.