Help, I’m being held… #5 – Making Peanut Brittle

Peanut brittle is my favorite candy to make.

I know, it’s not chocolate, and it may not be considered a connoisseur’s delight, but good peanut brittle is a joy to eat.  It is also very fun to make.  Anyone can make it, but to make it well requires a mastery of a variety of candy making skills.  It can separate the men from the boys. 

I learned to make peanut brittle at Disneyland (my first candy making job).  The small show kitchen was the perfect environment for perfecting the necessary skills and I was taught by the best.

Sugar, corn syrup and water (this mixture is called a “bob”) is cooked in a copper kettle over an open flame.  Butter and peanuts are added in order at specified temperatures.  When the final temperature is reached, the batch is poured onto a buttered, floured, pre-warmed slab.  The hot, thick mixture is carefully spread with a palette knife (they used to be made of carbon steel and would flex easily while still providing even pressure along the entire length of the knife – nowadays they are made of stainless steel (too stiff, resulting in too much pressure at the tip (so now they offset the handle so you don’t have to flex the blade))) (I like the old pallet knives better).  The batch must be spread properly (or the final results will merely mediocre):  one nut thick, peanuts right to the edge and evenly spaced (easier said than done). 

Now the fun begins.  At this point the batch is a soft, leathery consistency.  It is broken loose from the slab and flipped over with a dramatic, crowd pleasing flourish.  Now the white gloved hands spread out the warm brittle until it fills the slab.  If done right there will be no holes and no thick spots and from end to end will be glorious, golden peanut brittle that bites easily with a pleasing crisp snap and is saturated with buttery roasted peanut flavor.

I know it's not chocolate, but peanut brittle is my favorite candy to make.