M: Paul Bunyan may get most of the giant lumberjack press in the Northwest, but in the South, similar giant lumberjack Tony Beaver had his own thing going on. He may not have had a blue ox or dragged his axe on the ground to form the Grand Canyon, but he did pretty well by 19th century candy lovers.
It seems the townsfolk were in terrible peril. Flood waters were rapidly rising, sure to destroy the town and drown its residents. Thank goodness for Tony. Using the town’s fortunate surplus of molasses and peanuts, Tony was able to dam the river. The heroic act of this legendary figure I’d never heard of before today not only saved the townsfolk, but also resulted in the creation of a treat beloved from that day forth. Dam that’s good peanut brittle!
This recipe produces exactly what I look for in a good peanut brittle. It is certainly sweet, but the peanuts still manage to remain part of the profile. Not all brittle recipes call for baking soda, but I haven’t met one yet that didn’t benefit from its presence. You’ll immediately notice some of its impact when stirring it in the at hard-crack stage as the candy become opaque and foamy. Not only does it look lovely, the brittle will become airier, meaning it will break, but not shatter as you sink your teeth into it. I vote yes.
This recipe yields about 5 pounds of candy. I like this stuff as much as the next guy, but that’s a lot of brittle. Next time around I may consider a half batch. What am I, Tony Beaver?
Recipe: Peanut Brittle
Summary: This classic American confection hasn’t changed much since it first made the scene in the late 1800s. Thank goodness! From The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.
- 5 c sugar
- 2 ½ c light corn syrup
- 2 ½ c water
- 1½ lbs raw shelled Spanish peanuts
- 2 T butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking soda
- Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a large pot and cook at medium-high, stirring until sugar dissolves completely.
- Increase heat to high and continue to cook without stirring until soft-ball stage is reached (235-240 degrees).
- Stir in peanuts and continue to cook until hard-crack stage is reached (300-310 degrees).
- Remove from heat and stir in butter, salt and baking soda (candy will become opaque and foamy).
- Quickly spread candy evenly onto 2 greased baking sheets.
- Allow to cool completely, then break into pieces.
- Store in an airtight container.