Make Your Own Brittle

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If you have a sweet tooth, you’re probably sweet on peanut brittle.

On a recent visit to the elegantly rustic Goodstone Inn in the beautiful horse country around Middleburg, Va., instead of a piece of standard-issue chocolate at the evening turn-down, the inn had placed a cellophane-wrapped bag of peanut brittle on the pillow.

Because this is Virginia where peanuts are an important crop, the brittle used locally grown legumes and was made in the inn’s kitchen by executive chef William J. Walden.

They were delicious. Crisp, not too sweet, with lots of peanut flavor. I was impressed that the inn’s chef made the nighttime treat. That seemed so much more personal.

Walden explained that he took great pride in his brittle. At first unwilling to share the recipe, he at last relented.

What I liked best about his brittle was the way he used baking soda to increase the brittle’s volume so that instead of a flat sheet, the candy had a lighter quality.

According to Walden, getting that aeration right will require experimentation because altitude and humidity affects how the baking soda interacts with the other ingredients.

Goodstone Inn Peanut Brittle

Once you make your own brittle, you will find it difficult to go back to store-bought candy. Be sure to store the brittle in an airtight container.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

½ stick sweet butter
1½ cups sugar
1½ cups corn syrup
2 cups Virginia peanuts, roasted or blanched and unsalted.
1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  1. Melt the butter and brush it over a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper, making sure that you cover it well with the butter. Set aside and reserve.
  2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup and peanuts in a heavy gauge pot.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously over high heat until an amber color is reached. Do not scorch! Use a wooden spoon for better results.
  4. Once the caramel is a dark amber, add the baking soda and turn off the heat and stir. A chemical reaction will occur, and the mixture will begin to rise.
  5. Immediately pour out on to your buttered tray lined with parchment and spread evenly.
  6. Cool completely at room temperature until hard and stiff. Break into aerated pieces and serve on a decorative plate or platter.
  7. Store in an air-tight, moisture-free container.

Variations

  • Instead of peanuts, use almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts or walnuts.
  • Add ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract to the sugar and corn syrup.

 


Zester Daily contributor David Latt is a television writer/producer with a passion for food. His new book, “10 Delicious Holiday Recipes” is available on Kindle. In addition to writing about food for his own site, Men Who Like to Cook, he has contributed to Mark Bittmans New York Times food blog, Bitten, One for the Table and Traveling Mom. He continues to develop for television but recently has taken his passion for food on the road and is now a contributor to Peter Greenbergs travel site and the New York Daily News online.

Photo: Goodstone Inn in Middleburg, Va. Credit: David Latt

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