12 Days of Christmas Treats
Christmas Facts Continue:
1. Did you know if Santa Claus was alive today he would be 1739 yrs old? (The kid in me wants to say: “But he IS still alive…isn’t he?” lol)
2.Did you know originally the 9th reindeer that Santa had was actually called “Rollo”? (Rollo the Red Nose Reindeer…doesn’t really have that much of a ring to it, does it?)
3. Did you know in Morocco, Santa Claus is called “Black Peter”? (Umm….I don’t get it. Why?)
This another one of those recipes that I’m extremely proud of myself for pulling off. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I was gonna be able to. Peanut brittle is literally candy, and there’s always been something about making candy from scratch that’s scared the living bejeesus out of me. There’s so much to worry about; temperature, stirring, burning, cooling, consistency- ugh.
In this case however, I was prepared to roll up my sleeves, suck it up, and make an exception. My grandma’s peanut brittle is worth it. More than worth it. It’s been a Christmas institution in my family for literally as long as I can remember. My grandma always made it since my grandpa’s a huge fan of nuts. Being a ‘grandpa’s girl’, I wanted to eat whatever it was that he was eating. The best part was, I didn’t even have to pretend that I liked it just because he did. From the very first time that I sampled peanut brittle, I loved it. The saltiness of the peanuts works so well with the rich caramel flavor of the brittle. It’s seriously addictive.
As you can see, the peanut brittle fortunately turned out pretty well. Luck? I don’t think so. In fact, I know so. In retrospect, I can see several essential factors that played into this recipe’s success:
1. A Candy thermomemeter. I can’t emphasize the necessity of having this on hand when making peanut brittle enough. i’m pretty positive that if I hadn’t had one of these suckers, I would’ve messed up the whole thing. If you’re not experienced with making candy, then you must have a candy thermometer. I repeat: you MUST have a candy thermometer. Also if possible, try to use a candy thermometer that gives the numbers, as well as the various ‘candy stages’ (Soft Ball, Hard Ball, Soft Crack, Hard Crack, etc), and one that clips onto the saucepan so you don’t have to keep pulling it out of the caramel.
2. Stirring. The recipe will tell you to stir the caramel constantly as it cooks, but I’m gonna place a particular emphasis on it here too. Just so you know that it’s serious. Stir. Stir. Stir. I’m not saying that you have to be glued to the stove top, but don’t wander off to do laundry, take a shower or anything that keeps your eyes off the saucepan for longer than 1-2 minutes. You’d be surprised how easily this stuff can stick to the bottom of the pan and burn, especially nearing the end when it’s almost done. You don’t want it to happen to you. At all. Once it does, the burnt flavor will get into the entire caramel and the batch will be ruined.
3. Butter your sheet pan thoroughly. When the caramel is done cooking and is ready to spread out, it’s gonna be very hot, but it’s also gonna be VERY sticky. Making sure the sheet pan is nice and oiled up with butter ensures that the brittle will spread as quickly as possible, and will also come off easily when it’s fully hardened.
I know it may sound intimidating, but if you just follow the directions, and my tips, this peanut brittle really isn’t so hard at all. And it’s definitely worth it!
I don’t think this movie needs much of an introduction, or defense. If you’re looking for feel-good movie at Christmas (or come to think of it, any time of year) then Love Actually is a must see. It’s a romantic comedy that takes place in the UK, featuring a stellar cast each with their own personal stories and challenges that interweave with one another that all center around…love actually. I’ve watched this movie twice already and I just may try to sneak it in one more time before Christmas. Because all I really need this time of year is my family and love…actually.
My Grandma’s Peanut Brittle
*2 tbsp butter
* 2 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
*2 cups raw peanuts
*2 cups sugar
* 1 cup white corn syrup
*1/2 cup water
1. Bring 1/2 cup water to boil. Add 2 cups sugar and 1 cup white syrup.
2. Now add 2 cups raw peanuts and cook slowly over a low fire until hard crack stage (300°-310º), stirring constantly.
3. Take from heat and add 2 tbsp butter, 2 tsp baling soda and 1 vanilla extract. Stir quickly.
4. Spread on large, well buttered cookies sheet. Place in refrigerator until completely hardened and shiny. Use a knife to break up the pieces of peanut brittle into shards. It should crack easily.