I was flipping through Living the other day and stumbled upon a recipe for peanut brittle.
"Aha!" I thought. I could make my own personal crunchy-munchy slice of Americana, a treat I used to chomp on as a kid and looked at longingly during the braces phase of life. She who can master boiling sugar can master anything.
Turns out it's incredibly easy to make, and even easier to eat.
Yield: How do you determine how much peanut brittle a person can put away?
Unsalted butter (to oil jelly roll pan)
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 c. salted peanuts (I used dry-roasted, not cocktail which are greasier)
1. Butter a jelly roll pan or rimmed baking sheet. Spray a plastic spatula with gobs of cooking spray or coat thickly with vegetable oil. Place your tools on a flat surface for later.
2. In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine sugar, water and salt. Cook for 3 minutes without stirring. (Mixture may boil vigorously and appear as if, at any moment, it may boil over the pan. Have no fear. If you get really freaked out, though, you can turn the heat down till some of the water has boiled off, and then turn it back up to high.)
4. Once sugar has begun to melt and turn golden (after 3 minutes) continue to cook, this time stirring occasionally, until sugar has melted and mixture turns golden amber, 8-10 minutes. I would err on the golden side rather than the amber side, since just a touch too much heat can make the sugar taste burned. It's so easy to make, though, that if you don't like it just do it over. Mine, of course, came out perfect the first time.
5. Remove pan from heat and stir in peanuts. Leap over to the buttered jelly roll pan and quickly, immediately pour the mixture in. Grab your handy-dandy pre-greased spatula and pat the brittle down.
6. Let cool all the way, 15 minutes or so. Then do your damndest to break the brittle and remove it from the pan. As I hacked away, first with a spatula, then with a knife, I thought, "Hmmm. This a good project for someone who's boss/spouse/neighbor/child has just really made them mad." But I was getting nowhere fast. I considered writing up an algorithm to help me determine the best angle at which to hack at the brittle, and finally my feeble, can't-see-the-forest-for-the-trees mind realized that I could just turn my greased pan over and the brittle would slide out. Voila! Then I just broke it up into pieces.