Awhile back, we needed some little snacky things that would work well for a late-afternoon reception. Nothing too big, and, since it was late afternoon, we didn’t really want anything too sweet. It would ruin people’s appetites for dinner, so cookies were out. Then we remembered these Spicy Salted Peanuts from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman, and thought we’d try them out. Why not? Peanuts seem like just the thing for snacking.
Plus, it’s an easy-sounding recipe. Basically, cook sugar and water for a while, stir in the nuts, then some seasoning, and spread out to cool. Pretty simple, right? So, let’s get scratchin’.
Makes 2 cups
This is a basic brittle recipe which consists of sugar and a few spices to coat nuts, so we don’t have much to say, although there’s no reason you can’t use another type of nut (not that peanuts are nuts, but we won’t get into that).
Procedure in detail:
Prep. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
Make spice mixture. We used a small custard cup to mix the salt, baking soda, and the cayenne. Stir this mixture thoroughly so you don’t end up with clumps of cayenne in just one spot. Ow!
Make brittle syrup. Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the sugar, butter, and water until golden brown, about 8 to 12 minutes. Do not stir during this stage. It’s not necessary, and can lead to the sugar crystallizing.
Add peanuts. Quickly stir in the peanuts until the’re all coated with the syrup mixture and have toasted a bit.
Add spice mixture. Stir in the spice mixture, trying to break up any clumps that have formed.
Spread out. Pour the candy onto the prepared baking sheet and spread the nuts around into a thin layer, breaking them apart as best you can.
Let cool. Once cool, you can break everything up into smaller pieces.
We liked the flavor of these nuts, but we have to say the recipe is lacking, mainly because making brittle with just sugar is prone to crystallization, which ours did in spots. While we haven’t tried it, the way to remedy this is to use half sugar and half corn syrup instead of just sugar. The corn syrup will help prevent the crystallization of the sugar without affecting the taste. We even knew this before we started making these, but did we listen to our nagging inner doubts? Nope. Next time we make these nuts, though, we’ll be sure to include the syrup. So, we’ll give this recipe four stars as is.