Sunday, January 29, 2012

Peanut Brittle

So, once again, it's been far too long since I posted anything. The holidays flew by and somehow it is 2012. I can't believe I have been at CCSD for 3 months now and that I am just days away from my health insurance kicking in! It's a bittersweet time though, as I am happy to be in a stable job, but miss the middle school counseling daily. I'm constantly plotting ways to go back and visit my previous schools. One of these days I'm going to show up at Lewis for supervision at 7am and see what happens. And still try to make it to CCSD by 8am (totally doable). Anyway, I apologize for the lack of posts. I sit at a computer 40 hours a week and I often avoid my laptop like the plague when I get home. But I'm getting back into the blogging starting now!

Over the holidays, I had some really delicious peanut brittle at a friend's house. She had it sitting out with other food and I was drawn to it. I love, love, LOVE the stuff and can't get enough of it, but it's one of those things that I never buy and don't really think of until I have it unexpectedly. Then it's all I want. And I mean it: ALL I WANT.

As luck/fate would have it, the incredible Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker shared a recipe for homemade peanut brittle and I made it. I picked up the ingredients weeks ago, but I was waiting for the perfect time to make it. It didn't quite seem like a treat I would make and bring to work, not like cake or cupcakes or homemade bread. But I also didn't have any gifts to give. Instead, this past weekend, while I had the apartment to myself, I felt the urge to do something and be creative...which meant bake. But I didn't want to go to the store or deal with leaving the house. That's when I spied the peanuts in my pantry! Success! I knew exactly why to make it: just because I can. :)

It's a really easy recipe and it does not require a candy thermometer, which is excellent because mine gets hard to read when it's in a hot pot! As always, I write the blog to help share the things I learn along the way with any recipe. This one wants you to take the sugar and water mixture off the heat when it is a deep golden color. But what color is that really? And how do I know if it's gold or deep gold? And what is too deep? I honestly ask myself these questions, which is why I take so many darn pictures. Anyway, with this recipe in particular, I watched the time, the color, and the smell to tell me it was ready. And even then I think I hesitated a bit too long (meaning I took an extra picture) and let it cook a little too long. 

Peanut Brittle
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
½ cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 cups salted dry-roasted peanuts (about 1 pound)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray; set aside. (Can I emphasize lightly enough? Too much and your brittle will have a light film of cooking spray that really doesn't taste good. I wiped mine off the brittle once it was hard.)

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high and cook until deep golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. You should just be able to smell the sugar caramelizing! Watch the process below:

Sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt waiting for the heat!

Starting to simmer, but hasn't changed color yet.

Just a hint of mellow yellow.

A light gold color, but not quite deep enough yet!

This is my idea of a deep golden color. I should have stopped here!

But I'm learning and left it on a few seconds too long.
See the brown spots?  That's my visual hint that it's caramelizing too much!

Remove pan from heat. Stir in butter, baking soda, and peanuts (mixture will foam). 
How delicious do those peanuts look??
Stir until mixture is no longer bubbling and caramel is smooth, 1 minute.

Working quickly, transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread with a lightly greased spatula.
When I say work quickly, I really mean it.
I think it was starting to harden before I got all of it out of the pot!
Let cool until firm, 15 minutes. Break into pieces. The brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
Homemade Peanut Brittle for the win!
Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

Good luck sharing it! ;)
<3 Buttercup

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