Peanut Brittle

November 3rd, 2010 / Comments 1

The few golden brown leaves remaining on the trees make me think of caramel and my high school chemistry class.

L Oak 02 Peanut Brittle

The first experiment we did in the lab was to transform granulated sugar into golden caramel. It was an irreversible, chemical reaction that used heat to remove water from sugar. The sugar melted and the longer it was heated, the greater the quantity of water that was driven off and the more brown the liquid became. When all of the water was gone, we were left with a lump of pure, black carbon. When sugar has been changed from white crystals to a transparent, golden solid there’s no going back but there are many delicious ways to go forward.

I amazed my sister who was still in elementary school with my mastery of this chemical reaction when I created a sweet treat of peanuts suspended in sweet amber. Here’s how I did it:

Peanut Brittle

I put one and a half cups of peanuts onto a baking sheet that had been smeared with butter. I combined three cups of sugar with one cup of water in a medium saucepan and put the pot on medium high heat and stirred until the sugar was dissolved. When the mixture began to boil, I reduced the heat to medium and continued cooking the liquid without stirring. When it had turned a light amber color, I poured the caramelized sugar over the peanuts. After the candy had cooled completely, I broke it into pieces and shared it with my sister.

Many years later, I learned that a teaspoon of baking soda, stirred into the caramelized sugar before it is poured over the peanuts, makes it easier to chew but no longer transparent. Cashews, almonds and hazelnuts all make delicious treats.

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• One Response to “Peanut Brittle”

  • Drick says:

    ‘sweet treat of peanuts suspended in sweet amber’ … now that’s a new one, you sure ya not from Georgia? the peanut commission will be looking for you – have not made this in a long time, the last time I suspended any nut in sweetness, it was pecans… have always added the baking soda….

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