Homemade peanut brittle is superior to so many of the commercial brands that making a batch is well worth the minimal time and effort. Even people who claimed they disliked this candy found our recipe hard to resist.
Buttering the inside of the cooking pan will prevent sugar crystals from sticking to the sides while the corn syrup, water, sugar and butter cook to 275 degrees. At that stage the peanuts are added and the mixture is cooked, stirring constantly, until it reaches 300 degrees.
Remove the pan from the heat and stirring constantly, add the vanilla, then sprinkle the baking soda over the hot mixture (Step 1). The candy will foam (Step 2) as the baking soda reacts chemically to neutralize the acid of the caramelized sugar. This makes the brittle porous and tender.
Pour the candy mixture onto a buttered baking sheet that has been warmed in a low oven (Step 3). Using a buttered metal spatula, begin spreading the brittle into an even layer (Step 4). The warm surface helps in spreading the candy.
As the candy cools, stretch it into a thin sheet by lifting and pulling the edges with two buttered forks (Step 5). This can also be done with buttered fingers (Step 6).
Pull the candy gently to avoid tearing. Stretching is what makes the candy crisp--the thinner it's stretched, the more brittle it becomes.
Work your way around the pan, pulling off pieces as you stretch. By turning these pieces upside down, the peanuts will stay suspended in the center rather than sinking to the bottom of the candy. Set the pieces aside on another lightly buttered baking sheet.
When cool, break the brittle into pieces with your hands (Step 7), the handle of a wooden spoon or back of a heavy knife. Once completely cooled, store the candy in an airtight container to prevent it from becoming sticky.
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup raw peanuts, skins removed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Butter baking sheet and place in oven turned to low or warm.
Butter sides of heavy 4-quart saucepan. Combine corn syrup, water, sugar and 2 tablespoons butter in pan. Place over high heat and stir with wooden spoon until mixture comes to boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and cook to 275 degrees on candy thermometer (30 to 35 minutes), stirring frequently. Stir in peanuts and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 300 degrees.
Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda (use caution as mixture will release steam when ingredients are added). Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet.
Using buttered metal spatula or 2 forks, gently spread and stretch brittle to thin layer. Allow to cool completely.
Break brittle into pieces and store in airtight container. Makes 1 pound.