Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peanut Brittle

There is a lot of science involved in candy-making.  Just like any other science, it requires careful and precise measurements and attention to details.  If you have young kids around, it would probably be best to make candy while they're napping or in bed for the night, as there's really no room for distractions!  Cooking the sugar mixture to the proper temperature is a very important aspect of making candy.  While you don't absolutely have to have a candy thermometer (or probe thermometer), it does make it easier and takes out some of the guess work.

Peanut Brittle
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup*
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1 cup peanuts
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

Grease a large cookie sheet; set aside.

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water over medium heat.  Cook, stirring frequently, until it reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  At this point, add the peanuts and continue cooking until it reaches 300 degrees.  If it doesn't reach 300 degrees, it will be more sticky and not so crunchy; if you let it go higher than 300 degrees, you risk burning it.  Remove from heat and quickly add butter, baking soda, and vanilla.  Sorry I have no pictures at this point, because I was just trying to get it done before it cooled too much.  Pour onto greased cookie sheet and spread it around.  It will begin to harden quickly, so you'll need to work quickly.  Also, it doesn't have to look perfect, so don't worry about spreading it perfectly even.  Allow to cool; break into pieces.

This is how the mixture will look when it's first combined.
It will foam up - this is normal.
The foam will go away and it will just be bubbly.
If you don't have a thermometer, you can use the cold water test.  You'll need a bowl or cup of cold water on hand.  Drop a little bit of the sugar mixture into it.  If it separates into brittle threads, it is done.  For more information on using the cold water test in candy-making, click here.

*Most peanut brittle recipes call for light corn syrup.  One time I made this, I only had dark corn syrup, so I went with it.  It tasted great and I actually liked the color of the brittle made with dark syrup better than what I had made with the light syrup.  The brittle in these pictures was made with light syrup.

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