Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Peanut Brittle

I've been waiting for a chance to try this recipe from Kate Zuckerman's book The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle, and a "Food Day" at work tomorrow is the perfect excuse. I like this book a lot; it's well written and contains a ton of information and tips. She shares the pastry chef perspective and that adds so much to a recipe that a novice like myself can understand more than just ingredients and cooking times but also methodology, presentation, and repeatability.

This recipe is a perfect example. Just about every peanut brittle recipe I've seen is basically boiling the sugar, adding the nuts, cooling in a pan, and then breaking into pieces. No frills. The steps Kate lays out allow for variation at certain places while still maintaining your ability to recreate a well-finished piece. Cooling the caramel and grinding it allows you to change nuts within the same batch. Want to do some almond and some peanut? No problem. Another benefit of grinding? It gives you more control over what the final product will look like so you can make circles or tubes instead of broken glass-like pieces. That's just a great way to impress your friends.

Following this recipe made me feel more like a "chef" than a cook, if I may be so bold so obviously I can't recommend this book enough.

Thin and Delicate Peanut Brittle
from page 204 of the The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelleby Kate Zuckerman

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup ground peanuts
1/4 tsp. finely ground sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350° F and prepare a 11"x17" baking pan with parchment, nonstick baking pad, or aluminum foil.

In a small, heavy-bottomed pan combine the water, sugar, and cream of tartar and heat over high heat. When the mixture begins a rolling boil, reduce the heat to about medium-high. Once the color changes to a golden brown caramel color, remove from the heat and pour into the prepared pan to cool.

Once the caramel has cooled, break it up into small pieces. Use a food processor or coffee grinder to grind the caramel into a fine table sugarlike consistency. Combine this with the ground peanuts.

Prepare your baking pan again. Pour this mixture into the prepared pan and spread very thin (1/8 inch thick). Bake the candy for about 4-6 minutes, until it melts and bubbles. Remove from the oven and evenly sprinkle the salt over the candy. Let cool and break into pieces to serve.

This will keep for up to 2 weeks in a sealed container in a cool, dry place. Humidity will rob this brittle of its crunch.


allegra said...

Your delicate brittle sounds delicious! Can't wait to try it. Thought it might be fun to pair it with the robust brittle a friend just gave to me, "Papa Ben's Brittle." You can find order it at:

It's as down home as it gets -- super yummy, hearty, and I just started (don't tell my dentist) to have it for breakfast! Ok, Before Breakfast, technically, but it's That Good! Thanks for the "delicate" brittle.

Paul said...

Thanks Allegra, you really should try it.