Debbie’s Famous Peanut Brittle

When I’m not selling real estate or out fishing, you can be sure I’m in the kitchen making something.  I love to cook, especially for a crowd.  My home was designed around my large kitchen.  All my real estate clients know that just before Christmas they will receive a delivery of homemade goodies.  The first year, it was easy.  Including friends and family there were less than 50 deliveries.  These days it is close to 200.

The first year, the packages included peanut brittle, sugar cookies, gingerbread men, peanut blossom cookies, cashew/caramel/chocalate chews, mocha truffles, homemade jam and I think at least a few other things.  As my career took hold, the number of deliveries increased and the number of items in the bags gradually diminished.  This year, I’m hoping to pare it down to only 3 items.  We will see if I can be strong.

These packages would never be complete without peanut brittle!  I’ve even made it without a candy thermometer although I prefer to have one just to be sure.  It also helps to have cold, dry weather.  I’m not sure why, but I cannot get peanut brittle quite right if it’s above freezing and raining.

When I was only 12, I decided to learn how to make peanut brittle.  It was my father’s absolute favorite candy and I was 100% Daddy’s girl.  I adored him and was always looking for ways to impress him or even just make him smile.  My first batch of peanut brittle turned out perfect.  My father told everyone who would listen that his little girl made the best peanut brittle in the world.  I glowed.  I also made it for him every year.  When he got older, I adapted the recipe slightly to make it easier for him to eat with his older teeth, but I made it up until his death in 1996.

After my father died, I didn’t make peanut brittle until the year 2000.  It was just too painful and brought back memories.  Now I make over 100 pounds every December and spend much of that time fondly remembering my father.  So, now that I’ve bored you to tears with the history of this recipe, here it goes!  I had to adapt this to what a “normal” cook would be working with!

Don’t mess with the ingredients here.  Real butter and RAW peanuts!  The heat is going to cook the peanuts and if you start with roasted peanuts they will taste burned.  I’ve adapted a collage of all the recipes I could find, and while this one is similar to many, I consider it my own.

Debbie’s Famous Peanut Brittle:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter (salted)
  • 2 cups RAW peanuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda*

* Add just a smidgen more if making for someone with old teeth!

Butter two cookie sheets using a small amount of butter and a paper towel.  This very light coating of butter keeps the brittle from sticking like glue.  Use too much, and your brittle will be greasy.

In a really heavy saucepan, mix sugars, corn syrup, water and salt.  I’ve found that if I warm the corn syrup in the microwave for 30 seconds, almost all of it comes out of the cup.  Then I put the water in the measuring cup and put it back in the microwave for one minute.  Stir over medium heat until all the sugar disolves.  You will want to use a wooden spoon.  A metal one will get too hot and a plastic one will melt.  Stir gently to keep everything off the sides of the pan.

When the mixture starts to boil, add the butter and stir until it melts.  Clip your candy thermometer to the side, and continue cooking but not stirring until 230° or thread stage.  Now stir gently and occasionally until 280°, soft crack stage.  Add the peanuts.  The mixture will get really thick and the temperature will drop dramatically.  Make sure you wear an oven mitt because things are going to get really hot.  Stir constantly until 300° and immediately remove from the heat.  Stir in the baking soda.  The chemical reaction will cause the candy to foam and makes the little bubbles that make this hard candy tender.

Working quickly, and preferably with a helper, pour the candy onto the cookie sheets.  Don’t try to scrape every last bit out of the pans because you’ll run out of time, and possibly add overcooked sugar to the finished product.  Some waste is just going to happen.  Some people like to try and stretch out the brittle with forks or tongs, but I’ve found the back of your wooden spoon does a pretty good job plus you don’t tear the candy.

Get all your cooking utensils into very hot water as soon as possible.

After the candy cools, use a butter knife to get up an edge.  Break into pieces, then pack in airtight containers.


Note:  I’ll add photos tomorrow at the office.  I am trying to make at least five more batches today!


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