Brittle is a type of confection made with sugar and a variety of nuts like peanuts, pecan, pistachios and almonds. This type of candy can be seen in any parts of the world hence we have the croquant in France, chikki in India, kotkoti in Bangladesh and brittle in America to name some. In Philippines we have different varieties where whole or crushed, skinned or unskinned peanuts are used in making this candy, it also varies in colour from light to dark depending on the sugar used. There are also differences in texture as there are ones that are really tough, some are soft and others are crunchy and if you go to the Southern part of Luzon pili nut (similar taste to pecans) is used instead of peanut.
Now where did this sweet originated? Well there are a lot of theories and stories behind it like other popular dishes and here are some:
- Soldiers Protein Supplement – It was believed that peanut brittle originated in the American South during the peanut farming boom in the 1900’s, it was said that this confection became the protein and energy source for the Civil War soldiers during those times.
- Sweet Irish Tooth – It was believed that the Celts the sweet tooth and love mixing sugar with peanuts, to make it even sweeter they started pouring syrup on these peanuts with sugar giving birth to the brittle we know now.
- Baking Soda Disaster – It was said that an unnamed woman in the 1890’s was trying to make some taffy but instead of putting some cream of tartar she accidentally used baking soda, then she realized the mistake so instead of throwing all of that sugar she decided to add the peanuts and continued on. She then let others try it and surprisingly they loved it.
- Molasses – Now this one is quite impossible but still a good story. It was believed that a person named Tony Beaver created after pouring peanuts and molasses into a river when their town was threatened by a flood. It proved effective as their town was saved so everyone did the same making it in their own kitchen, they then realized it was a good combination of ingredients making it also a really good dessert.
How about you, do you have a story like this to tell?
Today we will be using unskinned peanuts as that’s the one I have on the cupboard and we will add some baking soda to give it volume and have some air pockets in between the hard sugar making it crunchy and easy to crack.
- 1 cup peanuts
- 1½ cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- In a pan under low head add butter and the sugar, let sugar melt and stir once in a while to prevent burning.
- Once sugar is all totally melted add the peanuts then continue to cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the baking soda you will notice the volume will increase, continue to mix for a minute making sure peanuts are coated with the sugar.
- Turn heat of then pour in a baking paper lined baking tray, flatten with spoon making sure peanuts don’t stack on top of one another then let it cool in a cool dry place.
- Once totally cooled down, break it down into more manageable pieces then place them in an air tight jar.