|Posted by holmfamilycookbook on December 13, 2010 at 1:04 AM|
During the holidays I often make peanut brittle or English toffee to give as gifts. I also make canning jar bread, which is pumpkin or zucchini bread made in wide mouth canning jars and sealed. People really seem to appreciate receiving homemade gifts and for those people that have everything, consumables are usually the best gifts. I have already made six batches of peanut brittle to give as gifts during this holiday season.
Tins filled with peanut brittle and ready to give as gifts
The thought of making candy used to scare me as I mistakenly thought making candy would be a very long, complicated process. I have since discovered that as long as you can follow instructions and read a thermometer, you can make candy. In most cases it is not a long process. The peanut brittle that I make takes less than an hour. The English toffee is a two step process because you have to wait for the toffee to cool before you put the chocolate on it, but in total it too takes less than an hour and the outcome is very impressive.
The recipe that I use for the peanut brittle is from our cookbook. The ingredients are very common and you probably have most of them in your pantry, with the exception of the raw Spanish peanuts. Many grocery stores carry the raw Spanish peanuts during the holiday, but if you can't find them at a grocery store, try a health food store. Here is the recipe with very detailed instructions.
Mimi's Peanut Brittle - Serves 12
Silicone or heat resistant spatula--don't use metal utensils or you could burn yourself
Measuring cups and teaspoon
14-inch by 20-inch baking sheet
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup hot water
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups raw peanuts - Spanish peanuts work well
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
The Peanut Brittle Ingredients
Lightly butter the baking sheet. I don't have 14-inch by 20-inch baking sheet, but I have a 10-inch by 16-inch pan with sides. The sides are important if you don't have the larger cookie sheet--without the sides the hot molten candy will spill onto your counter.
Lightly Buttered Cookie Sheet
Before you start cooking, be sure to measure out the baking soda and vanilla into separate containers. If you have to take the time to measure them out later, the peanut brittle will burn.
In the 3-quart pot, combine the sugar, corn syrup, hot water, and salt. Mix well. Cook over high heat until the mixture reaches 300 degrees F or the hard crack stage. It will take at least 15 minutes from the time the sugar mixture starts to boil until it reaches 300 degrees.
The Boiling Sugar Mixture
Slowly add the raw peanuts to the boiling sugar mixture and stir in the peanuts. Reduce the temperature to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns a soft yellow. Note: This is the trickiest part of making the peanut brittle. Adding the peanuts to the mixture will reduce the temperature of the sugar mixture. The peanuts will become a cluster that you will need to keep stirring and mixing or the peanuts will burn. It is important to maintain the 300 degree temperature. Keep mixing the peanuts until the peanut cluster loosens up and all of mixture is boiling again. It is easier to stir the peanuts if you don't have the thermometer in the pot at this time, but be sure to make sure the temperature doesn't get too hot or too low.
Once the sugar mixture has turned a soft yellow and the peanuts have become a shade darker, stir in the baking soda and the vanilla, and still well until it is all mixed in. The mixture will boil up to the top of the pot. This is why it is very important to have a 3-quart pot--to prevent the candy from boiling up all over the stove.
The Yellow Peanut Brittle Mixture Boiling Up to the Top of the Pot
Continue to stir well or the bottom will burn. Turn the candy out onto the baking sheet and spread the peanut brittle mixture into a thin sheet. When cool, break it into pieces and store in an air-tight container.
When I give the peanut brittle as gifts, I put the peanut brittle it into quart-size or sandwich-size ziploc bags and put the ziploc bag into decorative tins. One batch of peanut brittle will yield about three 12-ounce quart-size bags or four sandwich size bags.
Peanut Brittle Turned Out onto the Lightly Buttered Cookie Sheet
The Peanut Brittle Broken Up into Bite Sized Pieces
Blessed are those who can give without remembering, and take without forgetting.
~ Princess Elizabeth, Asquith Bibesco