Thursday, 8 December 2011

Peanut Brittle Cravings

I just couldn't help myself.

I went on a brittle bender. I wasn't meaning to, honest. It's just that with brittle, it's addicting.
And it was beautiful and snowy outside and Bing Crosby was crooning White Christmas inside and every time I opened my deck door to give the dog a treat, the jingle bells hanging from the handle jingled in that Christmas way they have. And I was just going to whip up one batch of peanut brittle.

One quick little batch.

With this super easy recipe I have, that would have taken only 10 minutes - 15 minutes tops. But the Christmas spirit hit, and about 8 batches later I wiped my brow and looked up and realized I'd done it again - gone on a Christmas baking bender - a peanut brittle bender. The only thing that stopped me was a shortage of nuts. (Stop laughing).

But I did have containers full of crunchy, caramel-coloured pecan brittle, and pumpkin seed brittle, and macadamia-poppyseed brittle to show for it.

Oh, and of course, peanut brittle. 

If there's any left by Christmas, it'll make great gifts.

Years ago, before I had this recipe, I was scared of peanut brittle, because it involved candy thermometers and much stirring and holding of breath and maybe even some bad words. But then my friend, Wendy, passed on her easy microwave recipe and I've been making it ever since. It always turns out. It's light and crunchy, not tooth-breakingly hard, and you can use any kind of nuts you have on hand.

This year I also tried a few batches with brown rice syrup for my corn-allergic daughter and they turned out great. When I ran low on brown rice syrup I even tried one batch with half brown rice syrup and half agave nectar and it turned out, too. And in that batch I used coconut oil instead of butter. My son proclaimed it tasted like Werther's Original candies. (I had to hide it from him.)

 Is that versatile or what?

This recipe looks like there are a lot of stages, but is quite simple, really. It goes into the microwave three separate times. Make sure you have a trivet to set the dish on, use oven mitts to avoid burns and have a plate on the counter to set your stirring spoons onto, as the candy hardens up quickly and sticks to everything.
The dishes easily come clean if you soak them for a while.
*When I ran out of salted nuts and used unsalted, I sprinkled the top of the hot brittle in the cookie sheet lightly with Maldon flaked sea salt, and that won rave reviews - so much so, in fact that I was requested to sprinkle it onto regular batches next time. Kind of like salted caramel. Mmmm.

Peanut Brittle (or Nut Brittle)

1 cup (240ml) sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) white or light corn syrup (or brown rice syrup)
1 heaping cup salted peanuts (or other nuts or seeds, salted or not)
1 tsp (5ml) butter (or coconut oil)
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla
1 tsp (5ml) baking soda

Grease a cookie sheet with butter or cooking spray. Set onto a cutting board or mat, to protect your countertop, as it will get very hot.

1. Put sugar and corn syrup into a 1 1/2 quart glass bowl or casserole dish (with handles is better and safer). Stir until combined and microwave, uncovered, for 4 minutes on high.

2. Remove from microwave and add the peanuts, stir quickly, and microwave again for 3 to 5 minutes, until light brown. (This will depend on your microwave - in my microwave it takes 4.5 minutes). Don't stir during this time - just watch it.

3. Remove from microwave and stir in butter and vanilla. Microwave a final time for 1 to 2 minutes, until a deep golden brown colour (on my microwave that is 1 1/2 minutes).

Set dish onto your trivet or cutting board and add the baking soda. Stir until the foam is evenly distributed (this is the fun part - kind of like a science experiment).

Pour quickly onto the greased cookie sheet and lightly spread around just a bit to even out the thick spots - try not to muck around with the foam too much as that is what makes it light and crispy. The mass will not spread to the edges of the pan. Just leave it as a puddle.

Cool 1/2 hour until no longer warm and break into pieces by lifting the hardened puddle and breaking off pieces with your hands or leaving it in the pan and tapping lightly with the tip of a knife. Wipe each piece with a paper towel to remove crumbs and grease.

I'm guessing Santa might even like this better than cookies with his milk.

1 comment:

  1. The corn-less batches taste amazing! They really do taste like Werther's Candies. This is such a classic holiday treat, and its really great to be able to eat it!
    P.S. the microwave method is brilliant!