Sunday, March 28, 2010

Your Basic Peanut Brittle

With things getting increasingly depressing in my day-to-day (work) life, I needed a little hobby action to take the edge off the fact that tomorrow is Monday. So I ventured into sugar work. I had some choices: Hard candy? Taffy? Brittle? Toffee? I had a bunch of nuts in the pantry, so decided to make peanut brittle for the first time. The recipe was pretty basic: mix sugar, water and glucose syrup in a pan and boil the heck out of it. At soft ball, add peanuts and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture is a nice golden-brown color (at around 320 degrees F), then add salt, butter, vanilla, and baking soda. Watch the hot bubbly action! Pour onto an oiled surface, allow to cool, and stretch thin. Remember to use clean gardening gloves or two forks, because this stuff remains hot for a while.
Learnings: If you pour the brittle onto a marble slab, get to stretchin' right away. The slab cools down the mass very quickly (relatively speaking), and if you don't stretch it almost immediately after pouring, it'll set up and you won't be able to work with it. Also, I finally learned that with sugar work, the long boring part is waiting for the water to cook out of the solution. Once that happens, the mercury goes north very quickly and boredom is no longer a concern. Lastly: mise en place MUST include a bowl of ice water in case molten sugar solution splashes onto vulnerable skin.

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