Before Jimmy Carter was pounding nails for Habitat or sitting in the oval office he was a peanut farmer. After he became a little more famous by getting that seat in the oval office his mother was asked for a favorite recipe for peanut brittle. I've been making this just about every Christmas since and sometimes, like candy is apt to do, it has been a disaster.
Once the whole batch was green, not pale green but a bright St. Patrick's Day green. My father had a friend in the candy business and asked him about this phenomenon. Seems if you don't cook the peanuts long enough that's what happens. Lucky it was only one batch.
Another time I used a glass candy thermometer and when cleaning up I noticed it was broken. Now did it break after I took it out? Don't know, had to toss that whole batch in the trash. I now use a digital thermometer and you have to watch them too. One year it seemed to come to temperature very quickly and I didn't bother to check it with anything else, that year it wouldn't set up. Yeah, trash.
Helpful Hint: You should always test your thermometer by taking the temperature of boiling water, it should be somewhere close to 212 depending on your altitude. My darling air-conditioner mechanic told me that one.
Yikes, why do I go through all this? This is the best you've ever eaten, bar none. It has a honeycomb texture that makes it kind to all dental work and if you follow the directions it will be a holiday favorite of yours too.
If you've never made candy this isn't too difficult but watch that hot syrup--it burns. It just doesn't burn it sticks to you and burns until you can get it off--so be very careful.
Miss Lillian's Peanut Brittle
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup white corn syrup
3 cups raw peanuts
1/2 stick butter, cut in about 8 pieces.
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons baking soda, yup, that right two TABLESPOONS
Please read the entire recipe before attempting this candy.
Grease two large cookie sheets and sit them on trivets or rack as they will get very hot when you put in the cooked brittle.
Boil sugar, water, and syrup in a pan three times the volume until it spins a thread (234 degrees). Once the sugar is melted you don't have to stir it. It has to boil a while to get to temperature, I think about ten minutes or more.
Add peanuts and stir continuously until syrup turns a light golden brown. Think a nice medium lager and if it isn't golden brown, the peanuts will turn green when they cool.
Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Stir until it melts. Add the soda all at once and stir for about 30 seconds. The mixture will foam up quicker than you can imagine but don't be scared--this is what creates the honeycomb texture--stir it down but don't beat out all the bubbles.
Quickly pour into prepared pans and spread out the mixture with the back of a spoon. Don't flatten too much.
Cool and break into pieces. Store in an air-tight container.