Holiday festivities are quickly approaching, which is cause for celebration and gift giving. However, if you did not spend your Black Friday fighting strangers for the best deals on presents, you may find yourself lacking the funds or the inspiration necessary for creative holiday presents.

This peanut brittle recipe can solve both of your problems in that department, but it takes some perseverance. For starters, finding raw peanuts is not the easiest task at Wesleyan. Though you can substitute roasted peanuts, I would recommend taking the walk to It’s Only Natural Market on the corner of Liberty and Main streets to obtain raw peanuts for the classic peanut brittle flavor.

I would also recommend acquiring a candy thermometer to accurately measure the temperature of the sugar as it heats, although you can also use cold water to test the stage of the sugar. To test hard candy without a thermometer, drop a tiny bit of the soft syrup into cold water and then examine the consistency for the right level of brittleness. You want to heat the sugar to the “hard crack” stage, as opposed to the earlier “firm ball” stage you would want for making caramel or “soft crack” stage you would want for toffee. It takes a lot of time to heat the sugar to this late stage and a lot of agility to manipulate the cooked brittle without burning either it or yourself.

When all is said and done, not only will you feel like an alchemist complete with bubbling cauldron, shouted expletives, and a manic look in your eyes, but you will also have inexpensive and classic candy to give. Wrap several pieces with cellophane and ribbon, and it will be a present that no one would dream of re-gifting.

Peanut Brittle

Adapted from


1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup water

1 cup light corn syrup

3 tablespoons butter, roughly chopped

3/4 – 1 pound shelled unroasted peanuts


1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Butter two 9 x 12-inch cookie sheets and place them in the oven.

3. Combine the baking soda, one teaspoon of water, and vanilla in a bowl; set aside.

4. In a three-quart saucepan, heat the sugar, one cup of water, and corn syrup over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the mixture reaches 240 degrees (or until it gets to the “brittle, hard crack” stage described above.

5. Add the butter and the peanuts, and stir constantly until the sugar reaches 305 degrees. Remove the pan quickly from the heat, and stir in the baking soda mixture.

6. Spread the peanut brittle over the two cookie sheets, approximately half an inch thick. Let the mixture completely cool and harden; then break it into pieces of the size you desire.

Comments are closed