Monday, November 2, 2015

Bacon Peanut Brittle

Years ago, my mother was the peanut brittle maker in the family. Every November, she would line the counter with marble slabs, get out her cook pot and go to town. I used to love the smell of the house when it was cooking. If the onset of the holiday season has a fragrance, this is it.

As my mother got older and less able to manage big batches of peanut brittle, my younger son decided to take over the reins. When he was in high school, he thought it would be a smashing idea to make batch after batch of peanut brittle to give as holiday gifts to his hoard of friends and favorite teachers. Recipe in hand (and after an intense quizzing of my mother), he laid the marble slabs out on our counter and set to work.

Everything went swimmingly until it was time to spread the brittle. Mother had told us to wear rubber gloves and then carefully spread it out (and I only wish I could show you the hilarious pinching hand movements that she used to illustrate) the hot brittle and leave it to dry. I poured the 260-degree molten lava brittle-in-waiting onto the slabs and we stuck our gloved hands right in. This literally brought us to our knees. Andrew collapsed to the floor saying, “I can't do this. Ahhhhhhh!” While I caught myself as my knees buckled, spun to the left, and plunged my hands into a pan of lukewarm water that was setting in the sink.

The brittle hardened and was delicious, but neither one of us could imagine how my mother managed to spread, by mere gloved hands, this boiling mass. We took her a sample the following day that met with her approval, and asked how she managed to deal with the heat. It was hot, she agreed with us, but after you let it set for a minute or so, it becomes less so, and easy to spread. What?! That minute, that crucial minute, had been left out of the instructions. She just assumed that, between the two of us, we were smart enough to not plunge our hands into boiling liquid. Apparently not.
Andrew has now perfected the method, come up with recipes of his own (with an eye toward a cookbook), and ditched the marble slabs for a rimmed cookie sheet. A lover of anything with bacon, he recently tried this recipe recently published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He had this to say, “I thought it was a great combination of sweet and spicy. The bacon offers a light smoky flavor without being too overpowering. I am a big fan of the brittles using Spanish peanuts, but this one called for roasted. It makes the process a lot shorter, but I still prefer the overall flavor of the Spanish peanuts. I'll make it again, with my own spin, adding a seasonal beer (as he is wont to do).” Personally, I loved it, not just for the hint of smokiness, but for the ancho chili kick. 
Bacon Peanut Brittle 
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup salted, roasted peanuts
2 cups cooked, crumbled apple wood-smoked bacon (see note)
1 teaspoon baking soda

 Note: The trick is to buy thick, meaty apple wood-smoked bacon, then dice it and cook the bacon slowly until the fat is fully rendered and the meat is a reddish mahogany. Press the bacon pieces between paper towels to make sure all the excess fat is absorbed. If you don’t do this, the candy will have a cloudy appearance.

Use about ½ tablespoon of the butter to coat a rimmed baking sheet.

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high, combine the sugar and corn syrup. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbly and slightly thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ancho chili powder and cayenne, and then cook for 2 to 3 minutes. The sugar mixture should now be at the hard ball stage, or 255º to 260ºF.

Stir in the remaining butter, as well as the peanuts and bacon. Continue cooking until the mixture is golden brown and reaches 300º to 305ºF degrees. Stir well, then add the baking soda and stir again. Immediately pour onto the prepared baking sheet and use a silicone spatula to spread evenly. Set aside to cool, about 30 minutes.

Once the brittle is cool, break into pieces by hitting the bottom of the sheet pan on the counter. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Yield: About 1 pound

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Julie's Lifestyle said...

Hi Pattie,
Boy this peanut brittle looks so yummy! This is perfect for the holidays.
Thanks for sharing this recipe with us at Cooking and Crafting with J & J.

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

Oh I love peanut brittle - thanks so much for the recipe.
I will make it for Christmas.
Have a great week and loved the story.\

Mimi said...

Whhhhaaaat?! Pattie, you bend my brain! This sounds insanely good. I have to try. Mimi xxx

Unknown said...

I may have just drooled! YUM!

Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

AnnMarie aka Vintage Junkie aka NaNa said...

Wow does this sound delicious!! I have never made peanut brittle so I am afraid to. I may have to try this one though!

Rattlebridge Farm said...

Swoon. I love bacon, especially in a sweet/savory recipe. Looks divine, Pattie!

Unknown said...

Okay, this is a recipe my husband will flip over! This is a definite pin. Thanks for sharing at My Flagstaff Home.


Miz Helen said...

Wish I had a piece of this awesome candy right now. Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a great day.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen