Momma Said for December 17, 2013
Picture this, witches hunched over a boiling vat and the words from Shakespeare’s Macbeth comes to mind, Double, Double, Toil and Trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Now picture this, two sisters standing over the kitchen stove, making peanut brittle, mixing all the ingredients. Stir until boiling, then stir some more. Now the recipe says boil until candy reaches 234 degree. Well you guessed it, no candy thermometer. Momma Said, “Drop a small portion of the mixture into a bowl of cold water, when it forms a soft ball it is at the right temperature. Now the recipe says to add nuts and salt and boil to 305 degree, remembering no candy thermometer. So you do the same trick with the water, only this time it must form a hard ball.
So now we have boiled, boiled and toiled. You guessed it, now the trouble comes into play. I am guessing all you cooks out there know the difference between baking soda and baking powder. Well let me tell you, the difference it very significant. I also know the difference but when you are in a hurry and pick up the wrong one, it can be a disaster.
You guessed it I put baking powder in the mix instead of baking soda and things got out of hand really fast. We had candy actually crawling out of the pot, what a mess.
Ok, so we get rid of that mess and start again with all the boiling and boiling. We really toiled on this batch. Everything goes along fine, all the right ingredients this time. If you have ever made peanut brittle before, you know when it comes time to spread into the pans you must be very quick. So sister is pouring and I am supposed to be spreading. Trouble again…I picked up a plastic spatula to spread with. Remember in the recipe, this candy is now at 305 degrees. Momma Said, “I don’t know the melting point of plastic, but I am guessing it is way below 305 degrees.” The spatula melted right into the candy. I am standing there with my jaw on the floor and feel like crying.
This was supposed to be for Christmas gifts and time is running out. I know now how Mom felt when she used Puffed Wheat instead of Puffed Rice in her Rice Krispies treats. I guess that old adage, “Live and Learn” really comes into play more often than you might think. If you are feeling like some boiling and toiling of your own, then here is a recipe for the infamous Peanut Brittle. Momma Said, “Try to keep the trouble to a minimum; measure, mix and most of all pay attention to what you are doing.”
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 cup Light Karo Syrup
2 cups peanuts (any type of nuts can be used)
1 Tbls. Butter
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
Heat and stir sugar, syrup and 1 cup water in heavy saucepan, stir until sugar dissolves. Cook over medium heat to soft ball stage (234 degree). Add nuts and ½ tsp. salt. Cook to hard crack stage (305 degree) stirring often. Remove from heat and quickly stir in butter and baking soda. Pour at once onto 2 well buttered 15x10x1 pans, spreading with spatula. Break into pieces when cooled.