Thursday, November 22, 2007

no nuts about it .....

once upon a time, it seems, nobody was allergic to peanuts. at least, no one i knew...... peanut butter and jelly/jam sandwiches were the standard for school lunches and those "any-time-you-were-hungry" snacks. now, for some reason, it has become a common (and rampant) allergen, often with potentially deadly outcomes. scary stuff, indeed. i still thank the heavens that i can enjoy this favourite item of mine. mostly, though, i only indulge within the confines of my home or at a restaurant.

photo: source wiki

with that aside, peanuts — or groundnuts — are not nuts at all but rather legumes (Arachis hypogaea) originally native to the hotter climes of the americas. as with many other crops, explorers introduced these to other cultures who quickly adopted them. they are now found around the world, much being grown in africa, india and china.

from their 'greens' to their shells (see the above link for all the info), peanuts are used in a variety of ways and nothing goes to waste. while many people in north america are only familiar with one type — the cooked/roasted ones from a bottle, jar or package — other cultures know them in their more unprocessed or raw state.

cooked in a variety of ways, everything from savoury soups, stews, seasonings to sweet confections and baked goods, they are usually dry roasted first to extract their best flavour. i don't imagine they are very palatable or digestible in their raw state either....

one of my favourite ways to eat peanuts is in that most sinful concoction called peanut brittle. with only a few ingredients, this amazing confection can be made in under 15 minutes. it couldn't be easier to make, however, since the way i am showing here is done in a microwave versus the conventional stove top way.

making candy [with a thermometer] isn't exactly the easiest thing for most everyday cooks who are often inexperienced with it. it can also be a challenging thing as it is a bit more difficult, in general, than simple baking. besides that, i am assuming a number of people do not own candy thermometers!

so, if you like candy and are a peanut lover, then opt for this super simple method. this is really only a recipe to be made by adults, keeping pets and children out of the way as any slip up can result in burns. remember, you are dealing with hot sugar syrups here.

don't let that deter you, however! it's a super simple recipe and anyone can make it with fantastic results.

if you like sweet and spicy things, try adding a 1/2 tsp of dried chili flakes at the time you add the vanilla. that'll for sure get your attention and taste buds stimulated! :))

microwave method peanut brittle

whether you are making this for yourself or as a gift to give away, this peanut brittle is always a winner. it is also a much simpler and faster way to make it than the stove-top way, done with a candy thermometer — something not everyone owns. you may want to make more than one batch but only make it one recipe at a time as there is much 'upfoaming' and you are dealing with a scorching hot sugar syrup.

makes 1 batch (about 10 to 12 pcs)


1 c white sugar
1/2 c corn syrup

1 1/4 c peanuts, plain roasted or salted

1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter or parve margarine

1/2 tsp red chili flakes, optional

1 tsp baking SODA (not powder!)


before starting, you MUST:
  • have all ingredients ready;
  • have a baking sheet lined with parchment or buttered ready;
  • follow the directions exactly;
  • make sure to use heat proof utensils and oven mitts to transfer.
in a large bowl, place the sugar and corn syrup. you can use either dark or light. i use dark corn syrup. MAKE SURE to use a large bowl as it will bubble up. i doubt you want to scrub a hardened sugar mixture out of your microwave, now do you?!

mix the two together.

stir until it is well mix and use another spoon to get the sugar mix all into the bowl.

microwave this mix for exactly 3 minutes on HIGH heat.

remove carefully the bowl to the counter and add the peanuts only and stir.

place the bowl back in the microwave and heat it again on HIGH heat for 4 minutes.

remove the bowl again and add the vanilla, butter and chili flakes if using. stir.

cook again for exactly 1 minute on HIGH.

you need to work fast (but extremely cautiously) now:

remove the bowl to your counter top and add the baking SODA and stir with a wooden spoon quickly but thoroughly.

it will thicken and turn creamy coloured.

pour this all out on your prepared baking sheet and smooth it over. you may end up with a little left in the bowl but don't fret over it.

quickly spread out the mixture a little and let it harden for 1 hour. it should be the size of a large dinner plate.

once completely cooled, break into smaller serving pieces.



ong said...

Interesting -- I will try it! I always make brittle on the stove and usually burn it... But that sure seems like a lot of baking soda without much acid to counteract it! What does the soda do here? I'm sure you know what you're talking about, though... I've tried a couple of your recipes before and never been disappointed.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I ADORE peanuts! They taste so heavenly! I am addicted! Yes, luckily, I am not allergic to that wonderful legume...

Your brittle looks so good! A delicious treat.

Lately, I made big quantities of nut (cashew, almonds, hazelnuts, etc...) pralines, but forgot to use peanuts! Next time! Thanks for reminding me...



burekaboy — said...

hi jeff - thanks for the feedback and comment :)) glad to hear you liked what you tried.

like you, i used to make it stove top method. once i discovered this way in the microwave, i've not gone back to the way i made it previously. doing in the microwave is superfast and doesn't require checking it with a candy thermometer.

one would think 1 tsp is a lot of baking soda but it isn't. go ahead and try it this way and you'll see it works fine. i believe that in the cooking process the sugar chemically converts to an acid and reacts with the baking soda, causing gases to form and thus lighten the whole product. otherwise, you'd probably end up with a candy which is rock hard and would probably crack your teeth!

hope that helps (and i hope i'm right!!).

rosa, my dear - i could eat this whole batch of peanut brittle by myself but i won't (this time!).
i love all those kinds of things, too, especially praline (with pecans).

Anonymous said...

One of my favorites from growing up. I hope one day to try to make it, especially for my father who loves it.
Thanks BB

burekaboy — said...

hey jamila! - same here. i've always loved this stuff :) it's super easy to make, too. you can also use other kinds of nuts but i really prefer it this way.

Anonymous said...

What a nice recipe! I brought corn sirup from my last stay in Canada and so I'm able to try peanut brittle here in munic, germany.
Greetings form

burekaboy — said...

hi lavaterra - welcome and thanks for your visit and nice comment :)

i hope you enjoy the recipe for the peanut brittle. it is very easy & quick to make, especially in the microwave. corn syrup is a popular item used in baking in north america. i guess it's not so easy to find in europe?

greetings from canada to you :)