Back to Christmas cookie boxes this week with one of the two non-cookie recipes I put in the boxes this year: peanut brittle. I think it’s fitting to still be sharing cookie box recipes because some of the cookie boxes I mailed out (3 day priority mail about 2 weeks before Christmas) just this week got to their destinations. USPS needs its funding restored.
Anyways, peanut brittle went in the boxes this year as a compromise. I really wanted to try to recreate Williams-Sonoma peppermint bark, but then once I started looking at recipes realized it was a project in and of itself, and not a great one to add to a weekend where I was already making 5 other recipes. Plus, tempering chocolate is terrifying, and I didn’t need that kind of stress in my life.
So I was flipping through BraveTart’s cookbook and saw peanut brittle, and Erik immediately lit up. As he was just walking out the door now to go grocery shopping, he told me I should tell all of you it was his favorite thing I made for the boxes.
I thought it was definitely good, but I think overall I’m more of a chocolate person than a any-other-kind-of-sweet person. Fortunately, this brittle was pretty foolproof and didn’t require a candy thermometer, so stress level was overall lower than tempering chocolate.
I don’t have pictures for every step of this, because you have to work pretty fast once the mixture heats up, but you should be able to get the gist.
In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, sugar, butter and seeds from one vanilla bean over medium-low heat.
Stir with a fork until the syrup starts bubbling around the edges, then increase heat to medium-high. Continue cooking, without stirring, until syrup is golden (the color of peanut brittle), which should take around 10 minutes.
While that’s cooking, spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and measure the baking down and salt into a ramekin.
Once the syrup is ready, work very fast through the next couple of steps. First, turn off the heat and add the baking soda and salt, stirring in quickly with a heat-resistant spatula. Then stir in the peanuts and scrape the whole mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread out until it’s around 12 x 8 inches.
Once you start the spreading process, it will stop being spreadable pretty quick. To the extent you can, I suggest trying to pour the mixture across the pan, rather than all in one place and then spread, to maximize surface area.
Allow it to cool to room temperature for about an hour.
This is the fun part – take something hard but not breakable (a wooden mallet if you have one, but I think I used one of my heftier wooden spoons) and break the brittle up into 2-inch pieces.
The candy will keep in an airtight container for about a month at room temperature. Erik went through the leftovers from the cookie boxes much quicker than that.
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/3 cup (3 ounces) water
- 1/2 cup (6 ounces) light corn syrup
- 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (5 ounces) dry-roasted peanuts (salted is fine)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the seeds from the vanilla bean, water, corn syrup, sugar and butter over medium low heat.
- Cook, stirring with a fork, until bubbles from around the outside edge.
- Increase heat to medium high and continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup turns golden in color, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and measure the baking soda and salt into a ramekin.
- When the syrup is golden, turn of the heat and stir in the baking soda and salt with a heat-resistant spatula.
- Add the peanuts and stir in quickly. Spread mixture out on baking sheet into a roughly 12 x 8 inch rectangle.
- Allow to cool to room temperature for about an hour.
- Use a wooden mallet (or sturdy wooden spoon) to break up the brittle into 2 inch pieces.