FIVE batches of peanut brittle were required for the posting of this recipe- that would be due to the fact it kept getting nibbled up before I could reach for the camera! I had hoped to make this year’s peanut brittle with the peanuts I grew in the garden, but a little bunny came and munched most of the plants; then the chickens scratched up and gobbled the few peanuts that managed to survive Peter Rabbit. Oh well. Next year!
Haley and I were pediatric nurses at Fairbanks Memorial when she shared this recipe with me a dozen years ago or so (I can’t keep track of time anymore; it’s lightning fast these days.) I decided to post it as it’s written on the recipe card I hastily scratched the ingredients on (her Mom’s name is Roxanne for the record.)
For decades Roxanne has cooked this candy in a 9.5 inch cast iron skillet- that’s the most utilized pan in my kitchen and the reason I locked onto her recipe. You can use a thick bottomed two-quart pot if you aren’t lucky enough to have a cast iron pan (put one on your Christmas list for goodness sake!)
You need to have all the ingredients measured out ahead of time and a cookie sheet or counter (this is super-hot, so only use a granite or marble counter top) buttered and ready to go- when this concoction is done you need to move quickly.
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
½ cup white Karo syrup
½ tsp salt (or skip if using salted nuts)
¼ cup butter
add all these ingredients to skillet or pot and cook until a rolling boil for one minute.
add 2 cups of nuts (our favorite is macadamia nuts, second is almonds, then cashews and peanuts) I’ve used raw and roasted successfully.
Cook to hard crack stage (300 degrees) while constantly stirring. For most of us, this requires the use of a candy thermometer. I have made this often enough that now I know by the color, but it only takes a few degrees up or down to burn this or have it be too soft. In my iron skillet on our current gas stove top it’s about 10 minutes of simmering.
As soon as it reaches hard crack stage, remove from heat and add 1 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp of vanilla. Stir quickly. It will change texture and appear a bit foamy. As soon as the soda and vanilla are mixed in, pour into the buttered pan or counter top. Spread with a buttered utensil or pull apart with two forks. Whatever you do- don’t touch it or you will get burnt! Within a few minutes the brittle will solidify and you can break it up and store airtight (if you get the chance to store any at all)
Disclosure:I know that some of you are going to have mini strokes when you read the ingredient list and see CORN SYRUP. I just want you to know I researched high and low trying to find a brittle recipe that didn’t require corn syrup (and turned out) and I was unsuccessful. For years I shamefully hid this nasty stuff in my grocery cart, lest one of my grain co-op customers see it and start terrible rumors about me. I have come to peace with this little compromise and if you think less of me that’s just fine; more peanut brittle for me! Now I live in the south and could fill my cart with corn syrup, cream of mushroom soup, shortening, pork rinds and all kinds of crap and no one would bat an eye. (By the way- shopping carts are called buggies here. Isn’t that quaint?!)