The Candyman I’m Not

So my bright idea was to make peanut brittle to exchange with our neighbors.

Three pounds of roasted, lightly salted peanuts, five pounds of sugar, a quart of corn syrup, a lot of boiled water, and two sticks of butter (butter was suggested in one recipe I found online) later, and the best I can say for myself is I made one batch of something that came out brittle but has a really grainy, sugary texture — and six batches of an unusable peanut taffy. What I have to show for it are sore knees from standing and stirring over the copper pot for so long and an exchange of unpleasant words with my wife motivated by a combination of frustration and disappointment as well as low blood sugar (you don’t eat this stuff while you’re making it). My attempt to make peanut butter crispy balls turned out substandard to boot. I’m quite sure the problem is that I never got the sugar syrup hot enough, except the one time, and then I must have allowed crystals to form rather than pouring out a smooth mixture. But I never quite figured out how to get there in the first place.

My pies — a chicken pie and an apple pie — turned out much better. But I am not a confectioner.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. My ex grandmother in law has a recipe for peanut brittle that you make in the microwave. I saw her do it once and it took her like 10 minutes. Crazy.

    Just give your neighbors alcohol, works every time. Kahlua and Irish cream are surprisingly easy to make. If I can do it, anyone can.

    • You’d think, right?

      I did Santa Claus Melon-infused tequila last year and they all looked at the gift bottles like they were ugly sweaters. “Ye-e-e-ah… um, thanks.” Most of them are Bud Light drinkers.

      So here it is Christmas Eve and we need to figure something out. We will, it’s just that like the House Republicans, we’re scrambling to come up with a plan C.

  2. I never got the sugar syrup hot enough

    Next time, boil it harder. You need to have the courage of your confections.

  3. But seriously, from watching Alton Brown’s show when he makes candy, it seems nearly impossible unless you have a good thermometer and a stove where one can fine tune the heat input.

    • Working without a thermometer is hard.
      0) butter a cookie sheet, and a spatula.
      1) You want RAW peanuts. NOT roasted.
      2) Sugar/water/cornsyrup goes in together. Stir till dissolved.
      3) Once it’s up to boiling, stir in the peanuts. At this point, stir like a banshee. It helps to have someone else around, as you’ll need to stir like a banshee for about 30 minutes.
      4) Once you hit hard crack on the thermometer (you do have a thermometer, right?)… take the mix off the unit.
      5)stir (frantically) in the butter, baking soda, and cinnamon.
      6) pour onto sheet, and spread to desired thickness.

      I can give proportions if you’d like…

      This makes the most awesome peanut brittle anywhere. But… is it worth it?

      Definitely sounds like you didn’t get hardcrack most of the time, and that you need to stir more.

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