When I was a child, Mama would make peanut brittle around Christmas each year. She has a fabulous, fool-proof microwave peanut brittle recipe. I remember helping her with it when I was a kid and the way the corn syrup, sugar, and peanut mixture would foam up and start to harden when we added the vanilla.
This year, I decided to add peanut brittle to the bags of goodies I make for my students. Each year I try to make a few things that are unusual and put them in a bag with a handmade ornament for each student. Peanut brittle smacks of Christmas for me, and I was determined to make Christmas rock around here this year. So I bopped out to the store and picked up peanuts, corn syrup, and sugar. I checked the humidity and whipped up a little peanut brittle….
Which flopped miserably. It never set up, and when I scooped piece of it off the pan, the rest oozed to fill in the hole. Peanut brittle? No. More like Peanut Flexible. Forget the fact that I was doing this while the Munchkins ate lunch and multiplied the recipe wrong. If you’re going to screw something up, you should totally quadruple it, right?!
I tried again two days later. I was pretty sure our microwave is not as powerful as it thinks it is, so I added a little cook time to each step. Wham, bam, let there be….
Peanut Flexible, Round II. This time it was set-up enough for me to roll it into a log which I wrapped in plastic wrap. We have decided that if I dip it in chocolate I may have developed an awesome new candy. But Peanut Brittle it ain’t.
Fast forward two more days. Which, coincidentally was the day I needed to pack up goodie bags for my students. I checked the humidity — 38%. I added two minutes to the initial cooking time and minute and a half to the second cooking time, and it worked out pretty well. At least for a day or two, since it’s started to clump together again. But it’s still the right consistency to pick it up and munch, and Brian has been doing just that.
So this week I’ll be making a new batch, and cooking it even longer. Peanut Flexible, indeed.
Fool-Proof Microwave Peanut Brittle
Ingredients: 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 cup salted peanuts, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tsp vanilla.
Stir sugar and corn syrup together in a glass bowl. Microwave 4 minutes (longer if you’re using my hamster-wheel-powered microwave) until the sugar is dissolved.
Add butter and peanuts, and stir well. Microwave 4 minutes (see note above regarding Stone Age microwaves).
Add vanilla. You’ll need to stir very quickly as this makes the mixture foam up and begin to harden. Add soda and stir quickly.
Pour mixture onto a buttered cookie sheet and allow to harden. Strike with the handle of a knife to break into pieces.