Peanut Brittle a la Marketman


Who would have thought that peanut brittle would be so easy to make??? It always seemed so much more convenient to buy it instead… But caramelized sugar and nuts are a match made in heaven, and being able to make your own batch at home is a small epiphany of sorts. Peanuts, almonds, macadamias, cashews, etc. all make wonderful brittles and you can even make brittles with some types of seeds such as pumpkin, watermelon, etc. Your main enemy in your quest for brittle brittle is the tropical humidity. But my first attempt yielded delicious results, so read on. I saw a write-up in Gourmet Magazine a couple of years ago about a brittle made by one of the chefs at El Bulli in Spain and it incorporated an interesting twist to the standard procedure of brittle making so I kept it in the back of my mind. Traditionally, one makes brittle by first making a batch of caramelized sugar and when it is nice an amber in color, you drop in the pre-roasted nuts, stir, spread, cook and crack the brittle into pieces.


The traditional method is what is used by the vast majority of brittle makers, to varying results. Some get a stunningly beautiful brittle, with an almost amber or jewel-like feel, others get a sandy, cloudy, chalky, opaque brittle. The key apparently has to do with the type and temperature of the sugar used, the reaction with the nuts and the pace at which it dries. I can’t explain the alchemy…I just know that slight variations to each variable results in dramatic physical attributes to the brittle. In the Philippines, brittles range from “blond ones” of a super thin variety, the color almost too light it would seem (see some Baguio examples), while other brittles are chunky, dark and substantial (see cashew brittle in this post), but often sandy or cloudy in feel. I like a brittle with a nice color, a good sheen, an abundance of nuts and paradoxically, does not taste so incredibly sweet (achieved by taking sugar to the edge of caramelized and bordering on burned).


To make this brittle, I first blitzed (or chop finely) some raw skinless peanuts, about a cup and a half worth. Next, In a heavy bottomed pan, mix 2 cups of white sugar and 1 cup of water and turn the heat up to medium high. Wait until the sugar reaches the “soft ball stage” where a tiny drop into a bowl of cold water turns into a soft ball (or alternatively about 238 degrees F, I think, on a candy thermometer), it will still be clear at this point, NOT yet turning amber. Then add the nuts and stir constantly. Do not fret when the gooey liquid turns into crystallized sugar and nuts and looks like you have a disaster on your hands.


Continue to stir and miraculously, the solid masses de-clump and start to turn an amber color and they do this VERY FAST once it starts… so be CAREFUL. As soon as everything is liquid again and the color of dark amber, transfer it all to a sheet of parchment or baking paper on a large wooden chopping board or a flat counter in your kitchen…


Cover the VERY VERY hot mass of sugar and nuts with another sheet of baking paper and use a rolling pin to flatten the brittle out. I like to make it pretty thin, but other like a thicker brittle. Do this very quickly as the sugar will harden in seconds.


Remove the top sheet of baking paper immediately after rolling (note the sugar strands I have in the photo here), then slice with a pizza cutter as the brittle is cooling.


Let the brittle cool completely and remove the pieces and store in an air tight container. I served the little slivers with tea or with an ice-cream plate with dulce de leche ice cream, dulce de leche and leche flan for serious sugar overload… They were excellent. You must use raw peanuts for this recipe as roasted ones will burn.



25 Responses

  1. Nothing beats home made goodies – you know what’s in there – quality control and lots of love put in. We get ours from Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio. We have to build our first class ticket to heaven!!!!

  2. It looks nice marketman. Lately I’ve been been reading caramelization. Here’s the reaction.

    Sucrose (white table sugar) is broken down with heating into fructose and glucose.
    Fructose and glucose are reducing sugars so they give their electrons to other molecules
    developing compounds which gives caramel colors and flavors.

    1) Diacetyl gives a buttery flavor
    2) Furan gives a nutty flavor
    3) Acetaldehyde gives a rum or cherry components flavor

    I got this info from this video

  3. I suddenly remembered my first encounter cooking peanut brittle. I asked our house help to buy peanuts. Little did I know, she bought grower’s. End result = YUCK! Never made peanut brittle again haha

  4. i remember the time my hubby brought home 3 round peanut brittle since he knew i love peanut brittle.. i was saving it for a rainy day and when i was looking for it already, he ate the peanut brittle na.. grrr!! now i know how to make them, thanks to MM… i will make my own na lang.. hehehe!

  5. you know what i like about this blog? you really take the time out to write details with some warnings on what could go wrong or may seem to have gone wrong. thanks for this recipe MM. we are “everything nuts” lover and i am definitely going to try this.

  6. MM, try enrobing with tempered bittersweet chocolate after the brittle cools down. It not only taste awesome, but also prevents the brittle from becoming soggy due to our humidity.

  7. Oh man!!! Your peanut brittle LOOKS DIVINE!!!!! I tend to mess up anything that calls for caramelizing thus, I steer clear of homemade brittles. But as always, anything that you make seem so simplified. I’m using caster sugar in our household, would that be okay to use than granulated sugar, or is there even a difference when caramelizing?

  8. Looks very nice, MM. And the photos (as usual) inspire us to head to the kitchen. I especially like the one with the sugar strands. I made it once with chocolate. I added semisweet chocolate same time as the nuts and the result was like a chocolate brickle somewhat reminiscent of the chocolate Skor.

  9. Aha, you used pizza cutter, I was wondering how you got all nice and even cut, that’s a brilliant idea, thanks MM for the recipe!

  10. fried neurons, funny you should notice. We actually tried this in the sitram, with brilliant results. We did another batch in an All-Clad frying pan and nearly burned the entire batch. The Sitram definitely was better for this dish, though the All-Clad might work for other dishes… dhayL, yes use a pizza cutter while the brittle is still hardening. erleen, butter and salt would add flavor… Didi, lower the flame as you start to color the sugar and work FAST. zena, with chocolate? cool. elaine, caster will work but you may need to use a little less as it gets ore sugar in a cup since the grains are finer than regular granulated sugar. artisan chocolatier, I will definitely try your suggestion…yum, that is a holiday treat in the making! palengkera, there is no reason you can’t do this with pili nuts! chunky, thanks. I always try to make the recipe easier for a reader. Some folks email me to say they just want the recipe, don’t want any write ups, so I say go buy a bloody cookbook! :) Wyatt, thanks for the link, very interesting! K, thanks for that tip, I didn’t realize they added baking soda, those clever nuns…

  11. Maria Clara, you are so right, the PB from Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio is so so so so gooooodddddd! Thin and crispy and lasts for a while. I wonder how many people know this secret? MM, yours looks wonderful, but too bad you couldn’t send some over so we can have a taste test. Truly, yours looks amazing.

  12. love peanut brittle, esp the one from baguio.. :) maybe i can try making it on my own.. using different kinds of nuts! i love it w/ pili too!



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