Peanut brittle recipes are simple candies made primarily of sugar and nuts, and it was one of the earliest candies ever formulated. Ancient brittles likely originated in the Middle East and were composed of honey and sesame seeds. Over time, the concoction evolved according to regional preferences and ingredient experimentation. Modern peanut brittle first came into existence over two hundred years ago during the pioneer days of the United States.
Temperature Tips for Peanut Brittle Recipes
Though peanut brittle recipes can appear deceptively simple, the candy can be tricky to make correctly. The correct temperature must be reached in order to thoroughly dissolve the sugar and create the appropriate "snap" to the candy (undercooked peanut brittle is too sticky), but cooking times vary according to the behavior of specific appliances. When checking the temperatures, avoid touching the candy thermometer to the side or bottom of the pan, which could give an inaccurately high reading. Always be cautious when working with boiling sugar, which can cause severe burns. Many peanut brittle recipes suggest adding baking soda at the end to add air and make the candy slightly more tender, but this causes foaming and must be done in a pan large enough to contain the candy. It may be helpful to warm cookie sheets in the oven to aid spreading the candy and keep it from hardening too quickly after cooking.
The specific type of peanuts is also a critical choice. If choosing salted peanuts, consider omitting additional salt in the recipe for a healthier treat. Many recipes also recommend unroasted peanuts because roasted nuts can get too brown or even burn at the high temperatures necessary to cook the brittle. Name brand peanuts may have added monosodium glutamate (msg) or seasonings that could taint the flavor of homemade candy. Of course, while peanuts are the traditional choice, many cooks experiment with other nuts for brittles: cashews, pecans, and almonds are other favorite choices and excellent alternatives for individuals with peanut allergies.