This recipe is actually my Aunt Zelda’s, but my grandmother loved it so much I have no qualms with calling it hers. As a matter of fact, the last few months of her life my grandmother would sneak a small piece every day. She wasn’t allowed to eat sweets by her doctor, but she didn’t care. The brittle was one of her vices and she wasn’t going to give it up for anyone. Right after she passed away, my Aunt Carrie was cleaning her room when they found her stash of peanut brittle. It turns out she was eating the brittle my wife had made for her as part of her Christmas gifts.
It makes me happy knowing that we were able to give her a little bit of comfort every day.
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of white corn syrup
1/4 cup of water
2 cups of roasted, unsalted peanuts
1 tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
You should make peanut brittle on a clear, low humidity day or the candy won’t harden.
Before you do anything, go ahead and spread butter on an oven safe sheet pan. When you have molten hot, sticky sugar ready to spread out the last thing you want to do is try to set the speed record for greasing a sheet pan while your sugar continues cooking in the pot. From personal experience, I seriously suggest you do this step first.
In a heavy, stainless steel pot combine the cup of sugar, the half cup of white corn syrup and the fourth cup of water.
Bring everything up to a boil, and keep it boiling for about four minutes. Once I didn’t wait the whole four minutes and the recipe failed. Four minutes, no less!
Add the peanuts, drop the heat down to medium and stir constantly. The white blur in the middle of the picture is my wife whipping the spatula around the pot at top speed. You’re looking for the mixture to start turning a golden brown. It’s tough to see exactly when this happens, so make sure you have lots of light. If you don’t cook the sugar enough, the candy won’t set at all, so make sure it’s golden brown! Remove the pot from the heat and continue stirring.
Add the tablespoon of butter and teaspoon of vanilla extract to the pot and continue stirring until both are integrated into the sugar. I’m a big fan of Adams Extract, and ship it to my baking friends around the world. I highly suggest using it in this recipe, but any good quality vanilla extract will do.
Now for the tough part. Add the teaspoon of baking soda (make sure it’s fresh!) and per the instructions from my aunt, “Beat it like HELL!” The sugar will start to foam a little bit and turn lighter in color.
Pour the mixture out immediately on your greased sheet pan and spread it out thin as quickly as possible. Adding a bit of butter to the spreading device helps the brittle not stick to it. Let the brittle cool.
When it’s done cooling, break the brittle into manageable pieces and eat right away. To store it, keep the leftover brittle in an airtight container. This will keep it fresh for a long, long time.
I hope you’re having a great holiday!