Saturday, October 21, 2006
Maple Peanut Brittle is Fabulous!
Last night, in addition to having hockey puck Chinese buns from the West Village and an excellent roast (more on this later) I decided to make peanut brittle. There was no real reason, other than it seems easy and I've always liked it. It was a success. And as soon as I post this, I am heading right to the gym to make up for all the brittle I've eaten (or maybe I'll play another round of Lego Star Wars). The key ingredient is salt, which you add. As we all know from snack food commercials, there is a balance between salty and sweet. The peanuts in brittle should not be devoid of salt, this upsets the taste balance. But a standard salted peanut has too much salt, and the taste balance is so bad you will need a drink to wash the stuff down. By controlling the salt, you become the master of the balance, which certainly is better than Frito-Lay doing it for you (although I think they claim to control Salt and Crunch).
5 cups sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
Eight ounce can unsalted cocktail peanuts (the Planter's Can)
3 tablespoon warm butter (not melted)
Kosher salt (probably about 3/4 teaspoon)
KITCHEN EQUIPMENT YOU WILL NEED
Good 4 or 5 quart pot
wooden spoon, greased with canola oil
Cookie sheet, greased with canola oil and left in the fridge until needed
Large bowl to hold peanuts and salt them.
Pastry brush or bar-b-que brush (I use the latter)
Put water, cream of tartar, sugar and maple syrup in the pot. Place the candy thermometer in the pot. Put heat on medium-low. Stir gently. When mixture starts to boil, wet the pastry brush with water and brush off any crystals on the side of the pot. Stop stirring, and raise heat to medium. During this time, put the peanuts in a bowl and add salt. The peanuts should have a very mild salty taste.
When the thermometer hits 310 degrees, start watching carefully. When it hits 320, stare. If you like lighter brittle, remove from heat immediately. If you like a darker smokier brittle, wait till it gets to 325 degrees. In either case, immediately add peanuts and butter to the pot and stir with the greased wooden spoon. When mixed, carefully pour onto the greased cookie sheet. If the sheet is to large, you can use the spoon to minimize the surface area of the brittle. It should be about 1/4 " thick. Let cool and you have brittle. Remove from cookie sheet with a spatula and smash into brittle sized pieces with a meat tenderizer. Makes a lot.