Brittle me this, Brittle me that.

2015-01-02 20.25.12

Ever since “the great throat closing of 2001” I have had to stay away from delicious nutty delights. That means no nutella and absolutely no toffee for TheGrumpyGourmand. Sometimes, I can sit and daydream about all of the nut-filled desserts I used to be able to eat, and I swear I can taste them.  Luckily for me, peanuts are legumes and not true nuts! So this year, I am experimenting with new ways to use these filling little beans in desserts so I get my nutty fix, without ending up in the hospital. Let’s start with Peanut Brittle…

Peanut Brittle seemed like a good and easy (takes about 15 minutes including clean up) place to start.  It’s crunchy, sweet, and fairly filling, which means you probably won’t be able to gorge yourself with brittle and wreck any new year’s resolutions you might have made.  It’s also incredibly satisfying to hold a huge chunk of brittle in your hand and then smash it into a large chunks or a million little pieces to then use as plate decoration,  inside cookies, or as part of home-made candy bars (more on this later).

2015-01-02 20.00.46Almost Ansel… almost.

For Peanut Brittle not to burn, I suggest using at least 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of peanuts. The ratio ought to be about 2:1, although it really depends on if you want your brittle chock full of peanuts or more like caramel glass with some peanuts for show. What’s most important is that you start with a good quantity of sugar and not try and make a tiny batch. Larger amounts of sugar mean you will have to stir the melting sugar more, watching it carefully so it doesn’t burn.

Watching the sugar turn to caramel makes me feel like a mad, mad scientist. The sugar slowly melts and crystals begin to form. After about two minutes the sugar should resemble a crumble topping. Another minute or so and the clumps will begin to melt and the crystals will dissolve (photo 2). From here continue to stir the caramel so that you add air into it, which will help to avoid the caramel from burning. The sugar will fully dissolve into a nice amber color (photo 3), and you will know the time has come to Remove it from the heat, add your peanuts, and turn it into the goodness you have been waiting for.

2015-01-06 17.32.09

 

Here’s how it should look before you break it up…

PeanutBrittle

To clean up, just add water back to your pot and heat the remaining caramel-water mixture until the caramel dissolves in the water and you can clean your pot like normal. Easy!

So here’s what you’ll need: 

1 cup granulated sugar (dominos works great)

1/2 cup peanuts (skinned & unsalted)

1 silpat rolled out onto a cookie sheet

The Process :

  1. Roll your silpat out onto a cookie sheet and set aside
  2. Caramelize that baby (3-5 minutes). Melt your sugar on medium-high heat (I use about an 8 on a 12pt scale). Stir from the start with a heat proof spatula, watching for the sugar to slowly melt. The melted sugar will slowly caramelize and change color from clear to amber (see photos below). With an eye on the color of the caramel so as not to burn it, make sure all the sugar chunks are dissolved.
  3. Once the sugar is dissolved and the color is a nice deep amber, immediately remove from heat and add your nuts. You will need to stir the nuts from the start, as the caramel will bubble up (don’t freak out, this is normal). Stir to make sure all the nuts are coated. Now it’s time to work quickly before the mixture hardens…
  4. Pour the caramel-nut mixture out onto your silpat quickly paying less attention to what’s left in the pot and more attention on spreading the nut mixture over the silpat as best as you can. You only have about a minute before everything hardens. 
  5. Let the Brittle cool for a few minutes, so you can pick it up and take a nifty photo!
  6. Crack. You can do this directly on the silpat or by popping the brittle into a plastic bag and smashing it with something nice and sturdy (and not breakable).
  7. Snack away!

Do: 

  • make a bunch (at least 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of nuts worth)
  • stir constantly until light-medium amber and the sugar is dissolved
  • use a silpat!

Don’t:

  • try to make individual batches
  • let the sugar melt into a deep/dark brown caramel (this will have a burnt taste to it)
  • pour the hot brittle mixture out onto your counter, onto parchment paper/tin foil, or directly onto a cookie sheet (it will be hard to remove-making it hard to break apart the brittle into neat chunks, and hard to clean up)

 

Peanut Brittle
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Delicious caramel sauce and peanuts
Author:
Cuisine: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (dominos etc.)
  • ½ cup unsalted skinless peanuts (roasted or unroasted)
Instructions
  1. Roll your silpat out onto a cookie sheet and set aside
  2. Caramelize that baby (3-5 minutes). Melt your sugar on medium-high heat (I use about an 8 on a 12pt scale). Stir from the start with a heat proof spatula, watching for the sugar to slowly melt. The melted sugar will slowly caramelize and change color from clear to amber (see photos below). With an eye on the color of the caramel so as not to burn it, make sure all the sugar chunks are dissolved.
  3. Once the sugar is dissolved and the color is a nice deep amber, immediately remove from heat and add your nuts. You will need to stir the nuts from the start, as the caramel will bubble up (don't freak out, this is normal). Stir to make sure all the nuts are coated. Now it's time to work quickly before the mixture hardens...
  4. Pour the caramel-nut mixture out onto your silpat quickly paying less attention to what's left in the pot and more attention on spreading the nut mixture over the silpat as best as you can. You only have about a minute before everything hardens.
  5. Let the Brittle cool for a few minutes, so you can pick it up and take a nifty photo!
  6. Crack. You can do this directly on the silpat or by popping the brittle into a plastic bag and smashing it with something nice and sturdy (and not breakable).
  7. Snack away!

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