While slouching around one day on Christmas vacation, I decided to find something to do. One of the traditional candies in my spouse's family has been her grandmother's peanut brittle. While I like the stuff, I'm just not that big on peanuts unless they are ground into paste and surrounded by chocolate. We has some frozen shelles pecans sitting in the freezer from ancient times, so I decided to substitute them for the peanuts in grandma's recipe. The results were astounding! Since, I have tweaked the recipe to subjective perfection, and here it is.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup corn syrup (clear)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (iodized)
- 1 cup of pecans - broken roughly into quarters... ("roughly" meaning "approximately", not "in a violent way")
- 1 Tablespoon butter (ok, you can leave this out but it tastes better with it, and you're eating candy anyway so what's the deal worrying about a little butter, huh?)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda - not scant, but slightly rounded and not heaping either. Break up any lumps - you can run it through a strainer to do this.
Lightly rub a thin coat of butter, margarine, or shortening on a flat cookie sheet. Mix all the ingredients except the baking soda in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat. Make sure the pecans are shelled before breaking them into quarters (fourths, not the coins.) Stir constantly with something that won't melt into the mixture or burn.
After it reaches the correct temperature, the mixture will begin to turn very slightly golden-brown, thicken, bubble instead of boil, and the volume of steam will diminish markedly. Often there is a slight acrid smell somewhat like burning sugar right when it hits the correct temperature. (If the mixture becomes black or exudes thick irritating smoke fumes or bursts into flame you have cooked it for too long.) ALTERNATE - drip a small amount of the mixture on the back of your fingers with the stirring spoon - if it does not immediately form a blister and the pain can be relieved by cool water, but does form a blister after twelve to twenty-four hours, then you have the right temperature. This works. I did it.
Take the mixture quickly off the heat before it burns, quickly stir the baking soda in just until blended, and rapidly pour out the melt over the cookie sheet. Do not try to spread it or tilt the cookie sheet, just pour it where you want it to go. (Clanging loudly while stirring in the soda madly, lightly stomping your feet while pouring it on the cookie sheet, and yelling "Woo... Hot! Hot!" during the process will impress your houseguests with your culinary skill and daring while effectively warning them away from the blistering mixture)
Wait until the candy is completely cool, then break it into small but manageable pieces and serve. Warning - this candy has a high addictive potential. Use with caution and limit doses to the least amount necessary to cause the desired outcome.
Addendum: Roasting the pecans for about 2-4 minutes in the microwave lends a really great additional richness to the Pecan Brittle's flavor - this is now utter perfection!