The best part about making this peanut brittle (besides eating it, of course) was watching Nathan ask the elderly wine man at our local beer and wine store what he suggested pairing with it. We normally get the clerk’s opinion on our sometimes wacky pairings but I’m pretty sure that ‘a wine to pair with peanut brittle’ was our oddest request to date. To his credit, the wine guru usually manages to maintain a fairly straight face and always takes several moments to respectfully ponder our request. I do think I saw him trying not to smile though…
Anyway, this peanut brittle is surprisingly easy and so amazing. Candy making was a mysterious process to me before we tried it but it seems that the key to most candy making is extreme heat…like 300˚ heat. This makes the process slightly scary and yet chemically magical. A few basic ingredients caramelize, harden, and finally become the quintessential peanut candy that has become inherent to the holiday season. It’s perfect for making ahead or gifts because it lasts for at least a month after you make it!
Normally our wine store guy suggests a wine in the same genre as what we had been thinking would be good but this time he went in a totally different direction when he suggested a sauvignon blanc. We had been thinking a sweet rose but in this case he was right! The acidity in the sauvignon blanc was perfect for cutting through and balancing the sweetness of the brittle.
This particular sauvignon blanc is wonderful…very clean, crisp, simple and versatile. We also tried it paired with poached salmon and it was fantastic with that as well.
Nathan’s Beer Pairing: Newcastle Brown Ale
Rating: 7.25 out of 10.0
While not the best brown ale that I have ever had, Newcastle brown ale was actually a really nice pairing with our peanut brittle. The nutty malt flavor of the beer complimented the peanuts in the brittle but was the flavor and body of the beer were light enough that it washed the rich flavors right down. If you are looking for a brown session ale that you can drink a lot of or light brown ale to wash down a nutty dish then this will do the job nicely.
Based on this recipe.*
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
4 cups coarsely chopped salted roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1. Butter 1 heavy large baking sheet or line with a Silpat.
2. Stir first 4 ingredients in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil without stirring until candy thermometer registers 260°F.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Mix in peanuts and butter and cook until thermometer registers 295°F., stirring constantly, about 15 minutes.
4. Immediately pour out onto prepared baking sheet. Spread out brittle as thinly as possible. Let stand until cold and hard.
5. Break brittle into pieces. Store in airtight containers at room temperature. (Can be prepared 1 month ahead.)
Note: The original recipe calls for baking soda and vanilla which we planned to include but completely forgot! I didn’t realize we had omitted that step until the following day. The peanut brittle was so good that we didn’t realize anything was missing. I did some reading and the purpose of the baking soda is to make it more delicate and easy to chew. Our peanut brittle turned out somewhere in between a delicate peanut brittle and a hard candy. I think it’s a matter of preference whether you include the baking soda or not…we can attest to the fact that it’s perfectly tasty without!