Tim's Favorite: Peanut Brittle

Some memories just stay with us. No matter how old we may be, we remember that first crackling bite into a piece of peanut brittle. It may have been rectangular, triangular, a square or just a handful of jagged pieces, but that wondrous mix of salty and sweet, crunchy and chewy stimulated every taste bud on our tongues. Peanut Brittle has captivated co-owner Tim Strickland, who enjoys making it the most out of everyone in our sweet family!

Who Came up With the Idea of Peanut Brittle ?

Believe it or not, there are some who think it was all a big mistake. There's been a legend going around for years that sometime around 1890, a woman somewhere in the South was making taffy when she mistook baking soda for cream of tartar, which is a plausible mistake, both being white and powdery. She caught her error, but being frugal and not wanting to waste all the ingredients, she went ahead and put it in the oven anyway, hoping for the best. And the best is what she got. Instead of the chewy yielding texture characteristic of fresh taffy, which is a wonder in itself, she pulled from the oven a slab of hard shiny candy. Upon tasting this brittle substance, she was delighted with her error and went on to experiment with subsequent batches. It being the south, where peanuts thrive in the warm climate, a few naturally found their way into her experiments and the rest is history. Another version places the woman in New England, and yet another traces it back to the Celts who mixed sugar with peanut butter and roasted it as a holiday treat, which dates the Irish bringing the recipe to America circa 1830. Whatever its origins, peanut brittle became America's sweetheart, and even provided energy for soldiers in the midst of battle.

How to Make Peanut Brittle

Ask a thousand cooks how to make peanut brittle, and you'll get a thousand variations. The basic recipe calls for mixing sugar or corn syrup with water and heating it to 130 degrees Fahrenheit until it takes on the consistency of caramel, then adding peanuts, a leavening agent, and spices, and finally spreading it out onto a flat surface, traditionally marble or slate, to harden and cool before breaking it into pieces.

Brittle Makes the World Go Round

Although we love our brittle here in the United states, be it peanut, almond or cashew, candy lovers all over the world have their own variations. Confectioners in the Middle East mix pistachios into their batches, while in Asia, they add sesame seeds along with the peanuts. At River Street Sweets® in the heart of the South, we use only the freshest of ingredients in mixing up this timeless treat, and take the greatest of care to stretch each batch of brittle on marble tables to harden into peanut laden perfection.

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