It isn’t National Popcorn Day (January 19th). It isn’t National Peanut Brittle Day (January 26th).
But it is a day for a bit of food fun.
Want to make peanut brittle even more fun? Add popcorn!
You can substitute another nuts in the brittle; for example, almonds, macadamias, pecans or pistachios instead of peanuts.
Or, use mixed nuts!
The history of peanut brittle is below.
Ingredients For 8 Servings
1. LINE a large baking sheet with parchment paper; spray it with cooking spray and set aside.
2. COMBINE the sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
3. INCREASE the heat to medium-high and bring to boil, without stirring. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook, without stirring, for about 10 minutes or until golden brown and candy thermometer reaches hard-crack stage (300°F to 310°F)*.
4. CAREFULLY REMOVE the pan from the heat, working quickly. Stir in the butter, vanilla and baking soda until foamy. Stir in the peanuts and 2 cups of popped popcorn until well coated.
5. IMMEDIATELY POUR the mixture onto the prepared pan. Using a heatproof spatula, spread the mixture as thinly as possible. Sprinkle with the remaining popcorn, pressing the popcorn into the candy with the spatula.
Different civilizations have been making sugar syrup-based candy for millennia. Cavemen raided beehives for their sweet treats.
But the first foods that can be called candy were made around 1500 B.C.E. The ancient Egyptians used honey as a base and added dates, figs, nuts and spices [source].
Sugar candy itself was invented in northern India, the earliest known producer of crystalline sugar, about 250 C.E. [source].
Fast-forward 2000 years or so: Peanut brittle was invented in the American South.
The story is that around 1890, a Southern woman created peanut brittle by mistake.
She was making taffy when she added baking soda instead of cream of tartar. She realized her error; but not wanting to waste the ingredients, she continued to cooking it.
(Elsewhere, a similar accident created fudge instead of taffy.)
The result:crunchy brittle instead of chewy taffy.
The term brittle first appears in print in 1892, along with recipes that included different nuts and seeds.
Brittle is a mixture of sugar and water is heated to the hard crack stage (300°F).
In parts of the Middle East, brittle is made with pistachios, a local nut; while many Asian countries use their local sesame seeds and peanuts.
Today, creative cooks have enhanced brittle with everything from smoked nuts to pumpkin seeds, bacon to cayenne to garlic. Some even add maple syrup or dip the brittle in chocolate.
*If you don’t have a thermometer, test for the hard-crack stage by dropping a teaspoonful of hot syrup into a cup of cold water. At this state, the syrup will form hard brittle threads and crack when you bend them.
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