Old Fashioned Peanut Brittle is one of my husband’s favorite Christmastime treats. I should have named it Mike’s Christmas Crack, but that name is terrible for oh-so-many dang reasons so we will stick with it’s traditional name. This is the type of treat that he would love to sneak away (but not admit it) and eat in its entirety. My sneak-away treat would be fudge… oh dear, I’ll make that soon. I wanted to make brittle today for my husband but also for a close friend who asked where she could buy it for her Dad. She’ll be getting a bag of this brittle tomorrow. (I must not forget to mark one bag DO NOT EAT! So my husband will stay out of it.)
I really love making brittle, it is quite easy if you have a nice candy thermometer or digital instant read thermometer. I can tell you that ‘quite easy’ can become translation of a total lie if you have children running about at your feet, if you don’t pre-measure your ingredients and/or if you do not pre-grease your cookie sheet you’ll turn the BURNING HOT candy out onto.
Here’s the recipe and I will remind you to have plenty of hot-pads out and to put your greased cookie sheet onto a hot pad because when you pour the hot candy mixture on it, it will get extremely hot underneath. Also, working with sugar is like nothing else, DO NOT ‘taste test’ the mixture… you will burn yourself beyond belief. This is not like frosting, glaze, a pan sauce or anything you pull out and taste test. Even when you have spread it on the tray, don’t do it. Trust me. (I may or may not have a burn on my tongue right now from a HOT caramelized peanut.) Sugar is EVIL and hot. Super hot.
Please make this for your family and enjoy! It is the perfect hostess gift wrapped in cellophane with a nice sparkly bow!
Old Fashioned Peanut Brittle
1 C tap water
1 C Light Corn Syrup (KARO)
2 C granulated sugar
3 C raw peanuts
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 TBSP butter, divided (you’ll only need 3 T if you are using a silicon liner)
2 heaping tsp baking soda
Liberally spread 3 T of butter in a large jellyroll pan, or place a silicone liner on a sheet pan. Measure out all ingredients and have them ready. In a large saucepan add water, Karo syrup and sugar. Stir to combine. Place a candy thermometer in the pan by clipping it to the side or get your instant read thermometer out and have it handy.
Heat over medium high heat and boil until soft ball stage (238 F degrees), stir this mixture occasionally. At 238 F degrees, add the peanuts, salt, vanilla and 3 T butter and carefully stir continually until the mixture reaches 310 F degrees. This can take some time, depending on your stovetop heat.
Here are some photos of the progression as the sugar mixture gets hotter, from 238 F to about 300 F.
The mixture after first dumping the peanuts in, it still looks thin. Just keep stirring… just keep stirring.
As it thickens, the bubbles will be bigger and slower. This is the sugar boiling to a higher temperature, getting closer to the hard crack stage. Keep stirring.
When the mixture starts changing to a golden color PAY ATTENTION darling, you’re getting close.
Once you hit 310 degrees F quickly sprinkle on the baking soda and stir well until it disappears within the mixture. The brittle will foam up and double in size, thus the reason for a big pan. Let it foam well for a few seconds. (There are no photos of this part because at this point you need to be all-hands-on-deck!)
Put oven mitts on and carefully bring your saucepan over to your sheet pan. Pour mixture onto your buttered/silicone mat lined jelly roll pan. Spread quickly if you can, it will cool fast. (Having assistance here is a good idea!) I took my hot sheet pan out and set it in the fresh snow to cool my brittle even faster!
Here’s a nice close up of the brittle. It’s handsome, old fashioned and plain delicious.
This photo is of my daughter holding the snow-chilled sheet pan. After the mixture and pan had completely cooled. She loves this candy as much as her Dad.
When cooled completely, break into rustic shards. Enjoy!
I love this guy.