After I left home, my mom would regularly send me a package of Heggy's peanut brittle. It's almost not worth the effort of making it yourself when it's so readily available, but I haven't found a supplier here in the Twin Cities that matches my hometown's product. It's been thirty plus years since I last tried my hand at peanut brittle, and that was as an apprentice to my mom who was using our brand new microwave oven instead of a stovetop. I thought I'd give it a try and see if the effort was justified.
This is a recipe that requires patience for most of the process, then urgent and swift attention at the end. Side story-during my baking marathon a few years ago, I grew tired of listening to the same Christmas CD's over and over. So, I turned on the TV and searched for programming that would keep me entertained during some of the more mindless tasks and inevitable waiting periods of baking. I happened on the documentary about the Ramones, End of the Century. If you loved punk rock back in the day, this is a must see. The music is awesome and the story of the band is surprisingly poignant.
Anyway, I spent the rest of that baking time listening to early punk music on a DirectTV channel that has since been replaced. Idiots. Thank God for Pandora. Now I make Christmas cookies while listening to festive songs from The Clash, Talking Heads, The Misfits, the Sex Pistols...you get the picture. That three chord progression and those rapid gunfire drums make my task seem so much less tedious and monotonous.
Back to the peanut brittle-hey ho, let's go!
Perfect Peanut Brittle
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups raw Spanish peanuts (I prefer skin on)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 TBSP butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp baking soda
Get your ingredients ready just as I have them above. Once you hit the temperature markers, you need to be ready to move fast, fast, fast. Time is of the essence when you're making any kind of hard candy.
Heat and stir sugar, syrup and water in a heavy 3-quart saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Add salt.
Cook over medium heat to soft ball stage (234 degrees). Add peanuts at 250 degrees.
Stirring is critical at this point, but it will feel at first as if you have too many nuts and the candy isn't cooperating. Stick with it. I had Annelise help me by holding the thermometer until the candy reached 290°.
Cook to hard crack stage (290 degrees), stirring often. Remove from heat. Quickly stir in the butter, vanilla and baking soda. Beat to a froth for a few seconds.
Pour the candy onto the buttered cookie sheets, spreading well or stretching mixture with two forks in order to get the candy as thin as possible.
The verdict? It's every bit as good as Heggy's and it only cost about $2.50 for this batch. Gabba gabba hey!