Legend has it peanut brittle was invented by mistake, and we couldn’t be happier. After all, this classic confection is like taking a bite straight out of your childhood.
Make sure you have everything measured out before you start, as there's not much downtime once the sugar starts cooking. For candy nerds, you're taking it to what’s called the hard-crack stage, which happens at around 300 degrees. A candy thermometer is your best bet, but you can use a digital one as long as it reads high enough—or if you're completely without a thermometer, you can use the water test: You'll know it's hot enough when a bit of the syrup dropped into cold water completely hardens and becomes, well, brittle.
If you're not into peanuts, you can easily swap them out for almonds, hazelnuts or roasted pumpkin seeds. Just remember not to skip the baking soda—not only does it help brown the brittle, but it also creates tiny air bubbles that make the candy lighter and thus less prone to cracking your tooth. Do it for your dentist.
To learn more, read “Board of Confections.”
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup roasted peanuts
1. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook on medium-high heat until the sugar melts completely, stirring often with a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula, about 3 minutes.
3. Turn the heat to medium low and cook until the sugar is lightly golden and reaches 300º, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.
4. Add the butter and peanut butter, stirring as they melt. The mixture will foam up; this is normal. Stir in the baking soda, salt and peanuts, then remove from the heat and pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.
5. Working quickly before it sets, spread the mixture into an even layer on the sheet, about 8 by 4 inches. Be careful, as the candy will be hot.
6. Let sit at room temperature until completely hardened, about 1 hour. Break into pieces and serve.
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