Friday, December 11, 2009

Chipotle Peanut Brittle: A Crazy Take on a Traditional Christmas Treat

I like traditional things.  When it came time for school pictures and my classmates were selecting backdrops with neon lasers and other sweet lighting effects, I said, "I'll just sit in front of that gray canvas, please."  When I was planning my wedding and several magazines suggested I write my own love-infused vows and perform a complicated-yet-symbolic ritual involving pouring sand from one glass into another, I said, "How about we just stick with the 'til death do you part, I do' stuff."  And when I make a classic traditional treat like peanut brittle, I say, "Give me my grandmother's recipe and no funny business, mister."

But when I found this recipe for peanut brittle with chipotle, I admit it: I was curious.  So I made a batch for Ben to take to a football viewing party.  And I'm proud to report that in this case, I'm willing to part with tradition.  At least once in a while.  

Peppery peanut brittle is pretty interesting.  At first, you don't really taste anything different about it.  But as you're chewing, the smoky spiciness sneaks up on you and your mouth gets zinged.  It's quite a feeling.

If you're heading off to a holiday party soon and need a treat to take (or a hostess gift), this peanut brittle would be a fun, unexpected choice. And it beats fruit cake.

Chipotle chile powder probably isn't available everywhere, but I was able to find a McCormick-brand jar of it at Harris Teeter. I'd avoid regular old chile powder, since the real beauty of this recipe is the smokiness. I guess you could substitute regular chile powder and liquid smoke if you wanted. Let me know how that goes.

If you don't already have a candy thermometer, you'll need one for this recipe. (The recipe developer suggests cooking times, but it took me less time to reach the specified temperatures than suggested.) And when you add in the peanuts toward the end, don't be afraid when the mixture seizes up on you. Keep heating and stirring. It will soften and liquefy again.

Non-Traditional, Smoky Spicy Chipotle Peanut Brittle (from the estimable Cooking Light)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light-colored corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 11.5 ounces of salted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper; coat with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook 18 minutes or until a candy thermometer registers 275°, stirring frequently. Add peanuts; cook 3 minutes or until a candy thermometer registers 295°, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda and chile powder. (The baking soda will cause the mixture to bubble and become opaque.  This is cool.)

Quickly pour mixture onto prepared pan.  Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to roll mixture to an even thickness. Discard top parchment sheet. Cool mixture completely; break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

The food: Chipotle peanut brittle
The verdict: A good blend of spicy, smoky and sweet


BridgeMom said...

Mike was a HUGE fan!!

Mike said...

As someone who was at the "football watching party" that ate at 63% of said brittle, i give it the ole "2 thumbs up!"