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© – David James Di Pardo 2012

Every year as the Holidays come around I look for homemade gifts that can be easily packaged and given as hostess gifts or bundled up and given as gifts to close friends and family. This year as I stood by the stove at 1AM, exhausted from having saved most of my Holiday baking for a couple of days before Christmas, I realized I had forgotten something. I needed something extra that could boxed and wrapped aside from the cookies platters and boxes I normally send around for the Holidays.
 
What’s a guy to do when he needs a last minute treat and is pressed for time? I’ll caution that boiling sugar at the wee hours of the morning is not recommended, especially if you don’t have a candy thermometer. Thankfully I had bought one a few weeks earlier, unfortunately I didn’t use it on the first batch which resulted in a pot of burnt sugar and a house filled with smoke. So here are a few words of wisdom regarding brittle making. Avoid recipes that call for boiling the sugar mixture for 20 minutes until golden, sugar can burn extremely quickly depending on the strength of your stove and the humidity and temperature in your home. Don’t trust the clock, trust the candy thermometer, for brittle the sugar needs to reach a temperature of 302°F/150°C, also referred to as Hard Crack. Lower than that and your brittle won’t set properly, go higher and the sugar will burn leaving you with a horribly bitter candy (unless bitter stuff is your thing). Note number 2; never stir your sugar as it’s boiling, doing so will result in the formation of sugar crystals. My Mother learnt this the hard way this year and yielded a bowl full of huge, rock hard sugar formations with almonds speckled throughout. The mixture was so hard it was inedible, so always remember, no stirring the sugar as it boils!
 
So after my first failed attempt I was more determined (and exhausted than ever), I caved and pulled out the candy thermometer. The Peanut Brittle below is the successful result of that. In fact that results were so successful and delicious, I modified the recipe the next day and created the recipe for the Holiday Brittle also featured below. Give them a try, your sweet tooth will thank me ;)
 
 

© – David James Di Pardo 2012

Peanut Brittle

About as traditional as they come this Brittle is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. Easy to make and with ingredients you probably have in your pantry.
Makes one 11 x 17 inch cookie sheet full
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups dry-roasted, salted peanuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated, non-dairy butter (such as Earth Balance)

Lightly oil an 11 x 17 inch rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper as well as a large offset spatula and set aside.

In a large pot, at least 8 inches deep attach a candy thermometer and combine water, sugar, salt, maple syrup, and corn syrup.

Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat without stirring until it registers 302°F/150°C on the candy thermometer.

Immediately remove from the heat and stir in peanuts, non-dairy butter, and baking soda. Mixture will foam, continue to stir until mixture is smooth and no longer bubbling, about 10-15 seconds. Immediately spread mixture onto the prepared cookies sheet and use oiled spatula to spread out the mixture and smooth out any air bubbles. Allow the mixture to cool completely.

Use a clean hammer, mallet or your hands to break the mixture into large shards and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Holiday Brittle

Filled with festive Holiday colors and flavors, I’m sure you’ll be making this brittle more than once a year, but don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone ;)
Makes one 11 x 17 inch cookie sheet full
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon non-hydrogenated, non-dairy butter (such as Earth Balance)

Lightly oil an 11 x 17 inch rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper as well as a large offset spatula and set aside.

In a large pot, at least 8 inches deep attach a candy thermometer and combine water, sugar, brown sugar, salt, maple syrup.

Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat without stirring until it registers 302°F/150°C on the candy thermometer.

Immediately remove from the heat and stir in almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, non-dairy butter, and baking soda. Mixture will foam, continue to stir until mixture is smooth and no longer bubbling, about 10-15 seconds. Immediately spread mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet and use oiled spatula to spread out the mixture and smooth out any air bubbles. Allow the mixture to cool completely.

Use a clean hammer, mallet or your hands to break the mixture into large shards and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

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