I realize I include the word “easy” in many of my baking or pastry recipe posts. I think because for me personally, if it’s not easy, I might not bother with it. And, usually by the time I’ve perfected my recipe, I have made it as easy as possible so that I enjoy the recipe as much as I hope someone else will. Which is the exact case with my Easy Peanut Brittle!
The truth is, making brittle is kind of a pain in the you-know-what. It requires some dedicated attention, you need to work quickly while it’s hot, and it’s sticky and tricky. However, something about making brittle from scratch is also fun and rewarding. Not to mention, it only calls for four really easy ingredients. Sugar and butter you probably already have. Peanuts, well, buy a jar and keep the extra for easy snacking. As for the corn syrup, well, I used to skip any recipe that called for corn syrup, but now I am a fan. It’s extremely inexpensive, and it does a job that no other ingredient can do. So, for all the doors it opens into the world of homemade sweet making, it’s worth picking up at the store.
So, what’s so tricky? Well, let’s just say, I’ve made a bunch of different nut batches and they don’t always come out right. I’ve over cooked them, undercooked them, and probably tried recipes with the wrong combination or ratio of ingredients. Which is why I wanted to post this recipe more than ever. I’ve figured out a fairly fool-proof recipe and I think it can work for you too.
Let’s get to it!
First, I combine sugar and corn syrup in a large saucepan. Use a large pot for this because as you add the butter and nuts at the end the mixture will expand. Working in a large pot helps give it the space it needs.
For about 10-15 minutes I watch this pot pretty intently. You don’t have to touch it as often as you might want, as you know if you’ve made caramel. But, it’s hard not to. I happen to feel better when I stir it every so often. The sugar won’t melt as quickly as you would expect. Instead, little icebergs of sugar seem to form a crust throughout the pot, which in my mind feels like the opposite of melting, but that’s where patience comes in. And, I’ve never had much of that.
So, I watch. And stir. And tilt. And check the time….And as the color begins to change, I wait and watch and stir some more.
Eventually, the icebergs of sugar really will melt. The mixture will become so liquefied in fact, and the color change will become so rich that it will look like you have a pot of warmed-up honey. The bubbles that were big and chunky during the sugar phase will become tiny and abundant, and when you stir your spatula through the mixture you’ll see straight through to the bottom like a swimming pool filled with amber glass. I share these descriptions with you because I want you to see the results, rather than call for a candy thermometer or give an exact time. You’ll know by the liquidity and color that it’s ready.
At that time, take the pot off the heat and stir in the nuts and the butter. Work carefully because this $*@! is seriously HOT! (‘scuse my French, but it’s true!) But, work quickly too because you don’t want the mixture to seize up on you. When I add the butter, I also like to switch to a whisk or a fork to help the sugar mixture absorb the butter mixture more easily.
Once the butter is incorporated, meaning you don’t see excess melted butter hanging out on the surface of the “caramel” pour the batter onto a sheet tray prepared with a layer of parchment paper. The mixture should be runny enough that you can spread it out into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle with a flaky sea salt if you have it and if you like that salty-sweet taste profile, then allow the entire thing to cool to room temperature.
Whatever you do – DO NOT LICK THE SPOON! It will be so tempting to run your finger or your tongue over that spatula with the remnants of this toffee-looking batter, but again, so for-realz-hot, you will totally regret it. Another moment where patience comes in…you just have to wait for that glassy goodness to harden and set so you can shatter it into delectable little bites of candy goodness.
So, what do you think? Worth it? I think so! And the more often you do it, the easier it will get. If you do try it, comment in the section below and let me know how it turned out for you!
Prepare a large sheet pan with a layer of parchment paper. Have a rolling pin and another piece of parchment paper standing by.
Roughly chop the peanuts and cut the butter into small cubes. Have both standing by as well, along with the Maldon salt if using.
Melt sugar and corn syrup together over medium heat in a large saucepan. Stir occasionally as the sugar melts and the color begins to turn golden. Heat until mixture becomes very well liquefied and turns a rich amber color. Stir more often towards the end as the mixture will brown from the bottom up and stirring helps get a better idea of the change.
Remove from heat, stir in nuts and then butter. I like to switch to a whisk or fork at this time to help incorporate the butter more easily. Working quickly, stir until butter is fully incorporated, then pour out onto the prepared sheet pan. The mixture should be viscous enough that you can spread it into a thin layer easily with your spatula, but if it begins to cool too quickly, you can cover it with the extra sheet of parchment paper and use the rolling pin to spread it into a thin sheet. Remove the parchment to let it cool.
Sprinkle over the top with Maldon salt, if using. Let brittle cool to room temp, then break apart into small pieces and store in an air tight container.