Time: About 20 minutes, plus cooling
- Butter for greasing pan
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups roasted peanuts, salted or unsalted, or other nuts
- Salt, if using unsalted peanuts (optional).
1. Use a bit of butter to grease a baking sheet, preferably one with a low rim. Combine sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy skillet and turn heat to medium. Stir until smooth, then cook, adjusting heat so that mixture bubbles steadily. Stir occasionally until mixture turns golden brown (which it may do rather suddenly).
2. Stir in the peanuts and a large pinch of salt, if desired. Pour mixture onto greased baking sheet and spread out. Cool for about a half-hour, then break into pieces. (You can score brittle with a knife when it has solidified slightly but not yet turned hard; that way, it will break into even squares.) Store in a covered container for up to two weeks.
Yield: About 1 pound.
Substitutions: I made a special version of the peanut brittle using peanuts, sesame seeds, and shredded coconut at my Grampa’s request.
New York Times
December 13, 2006
Have No Fear, It’s Only Candy
By MARK BITTMAN
OF all the ingredients in our cooking arsenal, sugar is surely among the most valuable. Nutritionally, of course, it’s just about worthless. It’s also bad for your teeth and can make you fat over time.
None of that stops us from eating it just about daily — thrice daily this time of year for many of us. So here’s one more sugary treat you can make: your own nut brittle.
To do this you will need to caramelize sugar, so here is a quick primer.
Over heat and with a little time, sugar melts and completely transforms, becoming less sweet. When it recools it can be sticky, as in soft caramels, or hard. Brittle, in fact.
What scares many beginning cooks — and even some experienced ones — is that sometimes caramelized sugar burns or becomes irreparably lumpy. A couple of tips can help you avoid these pitfalls. (And since sugar is so cheap, if it fails, you can try again; you’re only investing a few minutes.)
Start with a heavy pan; you want evenly distributed heat. If you have never made caramel before, add a little water to the sugar, about a tablespoon per cup.
This slows the cooking process, which is a good thing. Once the sugar starts melting the action can be quick; slowing it allows you to stir out lumps before they are too big or too numerous.
Veterans — and the brave — will do without the water and without the stirring and just shake the pan occasionally to move the melted sugar off the bottom. Stirring dry sugar almost guarantees lumps and a load of caramel forming on the spoon, where it does you no good.
No matter which technique you use, when the mixture is uniformly bubbly and golden, it’s done. It won’t burn immediately thereafter, especially if you lower the heat. At that point, dump in the peanuts or other nuts. I like a bit of salt, also, but that’s optional.
Having made the stuff, you will be tempted to eat it all. But you don’t have to. You can give it away. Then make another batch. Did I mention that sugar was addictive?