Wednesday, January 25, 2012

National Holidays

Did you know that January 26 is National Peanut Brittle Day?  I don't know who comes up with these holidays, or what, but it sure is fun to have a reason to make a specific food.  I'm not one to ignore a holiday, so I set out to make some peanut brittle. 

When I do a google search for a recipe, I almost always come up with lots of options, from a variety of sources.  I am actually fairly picky about whose recipe I will trust, since baking and candy making can be so finicky.  I looked at a bunch of recipes.  Some had lots of ingredients and long and complicated instructions.  Since I had always heard that peanut brittle was supposed to be so easy, I crossed these ones off of my list of possibilities.  I also didn't feel like using a recipe that would yield three pounds of peanut brittle.  THREE POUNDS!! What was I going to do with that much peanut brittle? 

I finally landed on a recipe that had a short list of ingredients, simple instructions, and only yielded about a pound and a half of brittle.  When I read the recipe, I also made sure to read the comments that others had left, and I'm glad I did.  There was one comment, recommending reducing the amount of baking soda, and adding butter and vanilla. And then there were a whole bunch of comments saying that they took the original commenter's suggestions, and it was great.  So, I did too.  The recipe I have printed here reflects those changes. And one other change -- I used lightly salted cocktail peanuts.  They came in a little can in my little grocery store up the hill.  I like the salt they add.  It's nice.

This stuff is addictingly tasty.  When I was breaking it up, I swear bits of it just flew right into my mouth!  I wasn't about to spit them out, so I obliged them by chomping away.  So good. I've read that the stuff has a decently long shelf life, but I don't think mine will be around long enough to test that. 

Peanut Brittle
Source: Epicurious, originally from Bon Appetit, March 2003

2 cups lightly salted, toasted peanuts
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and butter the parchment.  Or you could use a silpat, if you have one, which I do not. Stir peanuts, sugar, and corn syrup in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil until candy thermometer registers 295 degrees F, stirring frequently.  Add butter and vanilla and stir.  Remove from heat and add baking soda- the mixture will foam up.  Immediately pour onto buttered parchment and use a buttered spatula to spread into an even layer - work quickly!  Let stand until cold and hard.

Break the brittle into pieces.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature. 

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