The Crucial Tip To Remember When Making Candy Brittle

If you think that making crunchy, sweet and savory classic peanut brittle and other crispy candy treats is not in your skill set, we're here to change your mind. Success is mostly a matter of simply keeping an eye on your sugar as it begins to melt so you don't overcook the molten mass. But there's another tip involving a pantry ingredient that sounds like it belongs in your baked goods rather than your candy: baking soda. Old-fashioned bicarbonate of soda (not to be confused with baking powder) can make all the difference when it comes to the final texture of your candy, but adding it at the right point during the cooking is key.

Reading your recipe carefully, you'll see that the baking soda should be added when the sugar mixture is at its hottest – a crucial point to remember. When you add it, you'll notice that the ingredients foam up and increase dramatically in volume, and also change to a lighter color. This happens because baking soda is releasing carbon dioxide, just like it does in baked goods, making bubbles that lighten muffins and also make candy brittle easy to snap and bite.

A little science plus sugar makes delicious candy

Baking soda accomplishes this bit of culinary magic through simple science. When the powdery chemical gets overheated, it breaks apart into water, sodium carbonate, and our key ingredient: carbon dioxide. The bubbles of carbon dioxide created when baking soda hits that hot liquid sugar transform what would be a hard to bite, glassy melted sugar into an airy and delightfully crunchy slab. So, don't add any baking soda to your candy mixture until the sugar has fully heated up — for many recipes that's about 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

The amount of baking soda in your recipe makes all the difference in the way your candy turns out. For example, our maple cashew brittle and peanut brittle recipes use just a teaspoon of baking soda to get a breakable but solid piece of candy. In old-fashioned honeycomb toffee candy, a full tablespoon of baking soda results in a very airy, crunchy sweet. Too much baking soda can add an unpleasant background flavor, so resist the urge to add extra for lighter texture when you're making brittle. A little baking soda goes a long way!