brittle

As a young child  my family spent our winter evenings reading the Little House on the Prairie books. My mom would read and my sisters would make faces at each other, trying to get one another to crack up. I don’t remember much of the books, but one story is often brought to the front of my memory this time of year. In this story Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about Christmas morning and the joy of finding a small package in her stocking. She jumps out of bed and tears open her stocking to find six pieces of candy. Beautiful candy almost too pretty to eat. Almost. This is not a disappointing Christmas, her only gifts being 6 pieces of candy. Quite the opposite really; she is thrilled and grateful for this unexpected present.

I often wish Christmas was more like Laura’s retelling. A focus on family and food and small reminders that it is a special time of year. For several years now I have backed away from traditional Christmas giving and enjoyed putting together baskets of food, sweets, and drinks or handmade knit and crochet gifts. With this transition, Christmas has once again become a beautiful time in the simplicity of it’s intrinsic values.

I enjoyed putting together this amazing peanut brittle, thinking of the people in my life, thankful for so many, and grateful for a simple and sweet way to show them.

This peanut brittle takes a little of sugar cooking experience or a good candy thermometer. If you have either, I encourage you to make this a Christmas tradition. The sweet, buttery taste of this nutty brittle will have you licking the box and begging for more.

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Peanut Brittle
fills 2 medium baking sheets

1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup light corn syrup
3 tbsp non-hydrogenated, vegan butter
1 pound shelled peanuts

Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper and place in a 200 degree oven to keep warm.

Mix together baking soda, 1 tsp water, salt, and vanilla and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan (at least 3 quarts) combine sugar, 1 cup water, and corn syrup, mixing lightly to fully hydrate the sugar.  Cook over medium heat until mixture is at 240 degrees. This will take about 10 minutes. You can tell it’s close once the liquid stops steaming and the bubbles shrink down as they cover the surface. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can drop a small amount of liquid into a glass of cold water. Once it forms a soft ball, the sugar is ready.

Mix in vegan buter and peanuts. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture has reached 300 degrees. Again, if you don’t have a thermometer, test for doneness by dropping a small piece in cold water. It should break apart and turn into hard brittle. This can quickly go from 300 degrees to burnt, so watch carefully.

Immediately remove from heat, stir in water/baking soda mixture until light and foamy. Pour onto prepared baking sheets. Quickly spread about 1/4 inch thick. Cool completely (at least one hour) then break into pieces .

Store in an airtight container.

*Please note: working with sugar at these degrees gets VERY hot. A burn can be serious, so take caution.

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Do you have any books that remind you of your childhood? Any books you read over and over?

I have a list of books that played a significant part of my early life: The Narnia Series, Little House in the Prairie, the Ramona Quimby books, Nancy Drew…

I’m so grateful for growing up reading and I am excited to pass on these stories to Eden.