I made two batches of this microwave recipe before we went up to NY for an early Christmas at my parents' place, and it was so easy and fast that I was able to make a batch at mom and dad's from memory. The stuff is a big hit...and isn't nearly as labor intensive as the old-fashioned method involving big pots over hot stove tops with candy thermometers, waiting and watching for the sugar temp to hit the hard crack stage, etc. Screw that! In about 10 minutes you can have a batch cooling on your kitchen counter, and at no point did you have to watch a candy thermometer. Notice I said that in 10 minutes you have it COOLING. Do NOT think you should be eating this stuff right out of the microwave - you WILL scorch yourself.
(Did you ever play "hot lava" as a kid, where you and friends/siblings were on the sofa, or the stairs, or where ever, and you KNOW that if you ever touched the floor, aka the hot lava, you would surely die? Or at least have to scream and laugh and fight your way back up the stairs/sofa/whatever... Well, if you eat this "hot lava" concoction too soon, there would be screaming but no laughing...)
Ok, enough chatting - you just want to eat brittle, right? Fine. Get your stuff together.... For one batch of microwave peanut brittle you will need:
- 1 1/2 cups of raw, unsalted peanuts (in NY dad requested more peanuts, and we found 2 cups was totally fine. I've also used spanish peanuts before just fine)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup (aka the see-through Kayro syrup)
- 1/8 tsp salt (a decent sized pinch will do)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp butter (don't measure it! just lop off a tiny piece)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 sheet pan (10x15) - this is a good size pan for this recipe. You could PROBABLY go with a 1/4 sheet pan (9x12) (I have two and love 'em - I need to see if this recipe would hit all four edges of the 1/4 sheet pan)
- Parchment paper (maybe lightly sprayed with non-stick spray) or a Silpat to fit the sheet pan. I haven't tried parchment paper without the spray.... You could also just pour the hot brittle directly onto a LIGHTLY greased sheet pan....I just like having something that makes it easier to lift/peel up the brittle.
- Something heat-resistant that you can stir with. I recommend a silicone spatula. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND avoiding old-fashioned rubber spatulas. My mom hates the silicone and loves the rubber spatulas and, well, let's just say after the Christmas batch of peanut brittle, I need to replace two of her old rubber spatulas! ;-)
- Something big and heat resistant that you can nuke the stuff in. I HIGHLY recommend something that has a handle because, once you take this stuff out of the microwave to pour it, a handle becomes VERY handy. I've done it in casserole dishes and Pyrex bowls without handles...and that's why I'm recommending something WITH a handle. A 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup MIGHT be ok - I need to test this. I got an 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup and it works PERFECTLY!
As I said, I find a 2 qt/4 cup Pyrex measuring cup works great for this. (Oh, and as a note - "Pyrex" stuff isn't actually Pyrex anymore....I guess this stuff isn't as tough as it used to be...but so far I've never ever had any crack or chip)
Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, peanuts and salt, then nuke for 4 minutes.
Here's the mess before going in the microwave.
After 4 minutes the stuff's seriously starting to boil, but there's no real color change yet. This wouldn't make very good peanut brittle.
Give it a stir with something that won't melt, and stick it back in the microwave for 4 more minutes.
While I was waiting (4 minutes can seem like an eternity sometimes!), I decided to get a little experimental....what would CINNAMON peanut brittle be like? Hmm....we'll come back to this!
After the second 4 minute nuking you can see why I wonder if a 4-cup measuring cup would be big enough - you can see that the goop clearly raised up as it was cooking!
Here it is fresh out of the microwave.
Dump in the vanilla (1 tsp) and butter (1 tsp), and stir it up. This is when I also decided to add 1/8 tsp of cinnamon...
Now the original recipe calls for 2 more minutes of nuking, but this is where you have to use your judgment. I've made the brittle specifically as the recipe instructs, and have found it can sometimes be a little pale in color. LOOKS pretty, but isn't quite hitting you with that "burnt sugar" taste. At mom and dad's, either because we added so many more peanuts, or because we were nuking in a Corningware casserole, or because their microwave is stronger, the batch turned out MUCH darker than the ones I'd made here at home. I kept apologizing because I thought it looked burnt. WOW was it GOOD!!! So this time I checked the color after the final 2-minute nuking, decided it looked pale, and kept adding on 15 second increments and checking again. I was happy at 45 additional seconds...you'll just have to experiment with this and learn from tasting each batch. Make lots of trial batches! ;-)
Now that the brittle has had it's final nuking, you need to act FAST! You should've already had your pan/silpat/parchment paper/whatever ready. Dump in the 1 tsp of baking soda, and give a quick stir to mix it in - you'll find the brittle concoction really foams up at first - this is good. It's adding a slight airiness to the brittle so it's not hard as a brick and risks breaking teeth. (Oh, btw - if you're taking pictures, you should've put the camera down by now - you need to move fast)
As soon as you've stirred the baking soda in, quickly scoop the mess out onto your pan and spread it out. The recipe suggests pre-heating the pan in the oven to make spreading easier. That's too much work for me, plus I'm sure I'd burn myself.
Here's the brittle, all spread and still molten-hot! NO TOUCHY!
Hint: We HAVE found you can take this and put it out on your ultra-clean (right?) garage floor in the middle of winter, and that helps speed things up for quicker snacking! ;-)
Oh, and that big measuring cup you were nuking the brittle in? Don't throw it in the sink to soak and dissolve all that sugar just yet! There's nibbly bits to pick out and eat first (ONCE it's cooled some!). Sure, you might even cut yourself on sharp sugar....but it's worth it.
You can even bend and twist that spatula around to break off brittle - yummy!
Enjoy! I think I'm gonna go see how it turned out now....