This is my second favorite candy. First is black licorice.
Peanut brittle is fairly easy to make as long as you have a good thermometer. Most recipes say to use unsalted, raw Spanish peanuts. That does work and can be substituted but this recipe goes a little differently and cheaper by using standard salted and roasted peanuts.
It is very easy to go from done to burnt so attention is important. For me, this is the most difficult part. On the plus side it is not tricky to not get fingers and hands burnt, unlike some other candies. At least for me, anyway.
Equipment needed: a decent sized pot - about 2-4 qt - thermometer, wooden spoon, silicone spatula, and a cookie sheet, preferably no-stick.
With soft butter - not margarine, butter the cookie sheet and spatula. 1 Tbsp butter 1 tsp vanilla 1 tsp baking soda 1 cup roasted and salted peanuts Measure the above and put them close to the stove. You will need to work quickly when it is time to put them in the pot. Cut the butter into two or three pieces. This will help to evenly distribute it in the mixture and will melt faster. In the pot, put the following in: 1 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1/2 cup water Mix all three ingredients until the sugar is completely dissolved. Place on the stove, with medium-ish heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it starts to boil. Stop stirring and continue to heat mixture until at least 300, but less than 340 F. It should be a golden brown. It can be as low as 290 F but it is not as nice looking and tasting, and more chewy than crunchy. Take the pot off the stove immediately and stir in the butter, vanilla, baking soda and peanuts. The mixture will rise a bit and foam a lot. Keep stirring until the foaming stops. Pour the mixture out onto the cookie sheet. Use the spatula to thin it out by spreading it out until the desired thickness. Let it sit for an hour to cool. You can break it up with your hands by pressing it down to create whatever size pieces you want. For less mess on your hands, place parchment over the peanut brittle before pressing down on it.
Storing it in an airtight container allows it to stay good for a few weeks, maybe a month.
Yeah, it can take some trial and error to get it the way you like. A nice golden brown tastes the best, IMHO. I never dislike the results at 310 F but is less good below that. It might be better at a higher temp, but I get nervous about burning it.
On my stove, I have it past medium, about 40% of the way to high. A high setting will scorch and burn, too low and it will either take forever to heat up or will fail to reach the proper temperature. It varies greatly from stovetop to stovetop.
If you use too big of a pot, it will be difficult to get the temperature because the depth is small. If the depth of the mixture is too small, burning it is a real risk. Too small of a pot, and it will boil over once you put in the baking soda.
The yield for this recipe is pretty small, 1 ½ quart would be the smallest that I would try. If you double it, definitely go at least 2 quarts.
Cashews or whatever nuts you like could be substituted.
Cleanup is simple like it is for all sugar based recipes, Warm water will dissolve what is left in the pot and spatula.