Peanut Brittle always makes me think of Christmas. When I was Maddie’s age, I loved to give my grandparents Christmas gifts but I never knew what to get them. My grandpa loved peanut brittle. I can remember often making homemade peanut brittle and giving it to him as a gift. Peanut brittle just holds a special place in my heart.
It had been a few years since I had pulled out my favorite peanut brittle recipe. It’s an old Amish recipe. What makes it “Amish”? I really have no idea. I’ve never compared it to other peanut brittle recipes. I’ve never felt the need to think too much about this recipe because it is perfect just the way it is. Light, crisp, airy…mouth-watering good.
The secret to a good peanut brittle is patience. It’s something that I don’t always have a lot of. But when I’m making peanut brittle (or any kind of homemade candy, really) I know I need a good dose of patience ready. It’s not that it takes a super long amount of time or that it is hard, it’s just that you have to….well…let me explain.
In order for your peanut brittle to turn out perfectly crisp and light, you need to do two things:
1. Heat the mixture to first the soft ball stage and then the hard crack stage. What in the world are these stages? There are several different stages to candy making and in order to get it right you need to have a good candy thermometer. Here’s a link to the one I have. I love it because it has clear markings for the different stages of candy making. You’ll first heat the sugar, corn syrup and water until it reaches the soft ball stage (235-245 degrees). Then you add butter, peanuts and salt and heat it until the hard crack stage (295-310 degrees). It’s called “hard crack” because the when the mixture cools, it will be hard and crisp. Seems simple, right? The hardest part of the recipe is having the patience to wait until the sugar syrup mixture gets to that temperature. I cooked my sugar mixture over medium heat for about 20 minutes to get it to the soft ball stage and then an additional 10-15 minutes for the hard crack stage. You don’t have to stir the mixture constantly…just stir it a few times here and there, mostly in the first 10 minutes or so while you are waiting for the sugar to dissolve completely. You definitely don’t want to stop cooking the mixture before it reaches the hard crack stage. That’s where the patience comes in. If you take it off the heat too early, your brittle will not be crisp. Again, I highly recommend using a candy thermometer. It completely took the guessing game out of candy making and gave us success!
2. Add baking soda to the mixture. When the sugar mixture reaches the hard crack stage, you’ll take it off the heat and add the baking soda. It’s going to foam and the mixture will “grow” as you stir it, doubling in volume. Don’t leave out the baking soda. The carbon dioxide that is created when the mixture foams is what gives the brittle its texture. Snap a piece of brittle apart and you’ll see little bubbles or air pockets inside. Light….airy.
The last step is pouring this foamy mixture out on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking spray. Spread the mixture to the thickness that you’d like. Our brittle is about 1/4″ thick. Then let it cool. Before you know it, you’ll be able to snack on this amazing little salty & sweet snack.
Give it as a gift to the peanut lover in your life. They’ll be smiling!
- 1½ cups white sugar
- ½ cup white corn syrup
- ⅔ cup water
- 1½ cups raw peanuts
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
- In a 3 quart saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook this mixture over medium heat to the soft ball stage (about 238 degrees) on a candy thermometer, stirring it only until the sugar dissolved. Add the peanuts, salt and butter. Cook the mixture to the hard crack stage (about 290 degrees) on a candy thermometer. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the vanilla and baking soda. Stir the mixture thoroughly.
- Pour the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet. Spread it to about ¼" thick.
- Let the candy cool completely before breaking the candy into pieces.
- Makes about 1 to 1½ pounds of peanut brittle.