Christmas Candy–Peanut Brittle–My Mom’s Recipe

Yes! You can make peanut brittle at home.  Some of my childhood memories of Christmas center around peanut brittle.  When I was a child, churches and schools gave out many paper bags of candy and fruit.  My choice pieces of the candy was peanut brittle.

Every Christmas my mother made peanut brittle from the following recipe which I am going to share with you.

Mom’s Peanut Brittle

Before you start cooking, take two large cookie sheets and butter them generously.

If you have a helper in the house, another pair of hands would be very useful at the last stage of the candy making.

Smear the butter around with your fingers.

First you need to measure out 3 tablespoons of butter.  Put it in a small dish close to the stove.  Next open a 1 pound bag of raw peanuts and put them in a bowl next to the butter.

When you are ready for the butter and peanuts, you will have them handy.

Next, measure out 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Put them in a small container nearby.  Then, in another small container, put 1 tablespoon of water and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

You will need these measured out and ready for adding to the syrup.

In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups of white sugar, 1 cup of corn syrup and 1 cup of water. Turn the stove on to medium heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

The syrup should be clear, with no granules left.

When the sugar has dissolved, put the pan lid on and let it cook undisturbed for three minutes.  Take the lid off. (By the end of the three minutes, it should be starting to boil.) Let it boil for about 10 minutes without stirring.

Boiling merrily.

Cook to firm ball stage or 238F on a candy thermometer.  After 10 minutes I checked the syrup by dropping a small amount in a cup of cold water.  I pulled the syrup together with my fingers to check it.

Note how the “ball” is losing shape and sliding off my finger.

Not done yet.  The ball is way too soft. I let it cook three more minutes and tested it again.

The syrup formed a very firm ball this time that kept its shape when removed from the water.

Ready for the next step!

Now add the measured peanuts and butter.  Bring back to a boil, stirring.  Stir constantly until the brittle reaches the hard crack stage or 300F on your thermometer. This will take about 10-15 minutes after it returns to a boil. The peanuts will turn from pale to a golden brown as the syrup cooks.

Notice the color is turning from pale white to light golden.

Judging the doneness without a thermometer is the trick.  Take a spoonful of the syrup and hold it above the pan.  Watch as the syrup drips down.  When the syrup makes a thin thread that holds its shape, it is done.  Don’t undercook, but don’t burn it either!  If you taste the peanuts and they taste cooked, your syrup is done or close to it.  (Caution: don’t burn your mouth tasting a peanut.  Cool it first.)

Syrup is much to runny. Not ready yet.

Getting thinner. Close.

Note the fine thin thread that would be brittle in water.

When your syrup reaches the hard crack stage, turn off the heat, or remove the pan from the stove.  Dump in the salt, baking soda, vanilla, and water.  Here’s where a helper would come in handy.  Your helper can dump in the ingredients while you stir.  Stir, stir, stir while the mixture bubbles and foams.

Be careful of the rising steam when the liquid ingredients are added.

As soon as everything is all mixed in, take the pan to the buttered cooky sheets and pour out about half on each sheet. Spread with two spoons or forks immediately.  (Your helper can spread while you pour, or the other way around.)

Spread the syrup as thin as you can.

Don’t go anywhere.  As soon as the syrup has cooled enough to handle so you won’t burn yourself, take the edges and pull very lightly, to stretch the brittle thinner.  Loosen the brittle from the sheet a few times while it is cooling.

Pull gently around the edges to thin out the middles.

Now let the brittle cool completely.  After it has cooled, break it into pieces.

Start with big pieces. You can always make them smaller.

Making some big pieces smaller.

Ready to eat or put away for Christmas!

Both sheets of broken brittle, piled together.

You will have some very small pieces that are too little to save or serve.  I think you know what to do with them, don’t you? If you have kids, ask them!  🙂

Munch! Munch!

Here’s the complete recipe.

Mom’s Peanut Brittle

2 cups white sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup water

1 pound raw peanuts

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon water

Combine the sugar, syrup, and water. Place over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Cover and cook for three minutes.  Uncover and cook to firm ball stage or 238F on a candy thermometer.

Add the peanuts and butter.  Stir constantly until the brittle reaches the hard crack stage or 300F.  Do not undercook.

Combine the salt, baking soda, vanilla,and water.  Add to the cooked brittle, removed from the heat.  Be careful.  Thick steam will rise from the mixture being added.  Stir for a few seconds, then pour onto two well–buttered cookie sheets, spreading as thinly as possible with large wooden spoons.

Loosen the brittle from the sheets several times while cooling.  When cold, break into irregular pieces. Enjoy!


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Filed under Baking, Christmas, Christmas Candy, Christmas Traditions

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