Every year I make Peanut Brittle for friends and neighbors.  Peanut brittle is festive, special and is mail-friendly.  It took me many tries to get it right though.  My brittle would burn or come out chewy and tacky (gross!)  After wasting pounds of peanuts, butter and sugar I found there are two big keys to success:  A proper digital instant read thermometer and PATIENCE.


I use a ThermoWorks Thermapen Cooking Thermometer (picture below, red thermometer) which costs around $115.00.  It is expensive, but it will ensure candy-making success.  Beforehand I used a candy thermometer that looks like a metal ruler and clips to your pan for under $10 (picture below, on the left).  Much cheaper, but it didn’t work for me.  Candy making is so precise that when the directions say boil until 305 degrees, for example, they mean EXACTLY 305 or you will either burn your candy or end up with taffy.  Besides precision, the Thermapen can be used for many other applications like meats, bread baking, frying, etc.  You will get a lot of good use from this one-time purchase.


The second key to success when making brittle is patience.  There is a temptation to turn the heat up on your stove when it seems like the brittle is taking too long to reach the right temperatures.  This leads to burnt candy.  My best advice is plan for the batch to take 45 minutes to an hour.  Pull up a chair by the stove, have a cup of tea nearby, keep your burner medium-low and just go low and slow.  Even if it feels like the process is taking forever, you will reach your temperature marks.

Finally, I use corn syrup in this recipe.  I know that there are also wonderful recipes out there that use maple syrup or honey instead if you prefer.

Sweet and Salty Peanut Brittle

2 cups (14 oz) sugar
1 cup (11 oz) light corn syrup
1/2 (4 oz) cup water
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 cups (10 oz) raw, unsalted Spanish peanuts oftentimes found in bulk food sections during the holidays
1 teaspoon baking soda
Flaky sea salt, I like Jacobsen’s Salt
Heat oven to 250 degrees.  Butter 2 (15x10x1-inch) baking sheets and set in oven.  (This important step ensures when you pour the hot brittle onto the pans the candy doesn’t seize up into a thick mass, instead it will spread out nicely on the warm baking sheets.)
Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in 3-quart heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 8-12 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a full boil .
Add butter; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 15-25 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 280°F.
Stir in peanuts; continue cooking, stirring constantly, 10-12 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 305°F. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda.
Pour mixture immediately onto warm, prepared sheets; spread evenly to about 1/4-inch thickness.  Sprinkle with a nice dusting of flake salt to taste.  I like to use a heavy hand for a salty sweet kick.  Cool completely, break into shards.  Will keep in an AIRTIGHT container at room temperature for 3-4 weeks.  Separate layers with wax paper.