Though nut and syrup confections have been around for centuries, peanut brittle recipes started showing up in cookbooks during the 19th century. Yet, how this salty and sweet crunchy treat came into being remains the stuff of legends.
One story tells of an unknown Southern woman who created peanut brittle by mistake, sometime around 1890. Apparently, she was making taffy and added baking soda to her mixture instead of using cream of tartar. Not wanting to be wasteful she continued cooking and finished with a bowl of chewy brittle.
Another tale involves Paul Bunyan’s cousin, Tony Beaver. It seems Mr. Beaver saved a town from flood waters by pouring molasses and peanuts into a swollen river. The town inhabitants celebrated their rescue by enjoying Mr. Beaver’s river-wide nutty confection.
No matter how peanut brittle came into existence, it’s long been one of American’s favorite nut-filled candies. Here is a peanut-less brittle recipe that those living with a peanut allergy may want to try. It retains the nutty flavor of peanuts by substituting a snack developed in the late 1970s called Wheat Nuts.
Always be cautious when making any candy that involves boiled sugar as the mixtures become incredibly hot and can easily burn skin. For this recipe be sure to use a large, microwave safe bowl that allows the mixture to boil without boiling over.
You will need:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 4 ounces light corn syrup
- 1 cup Wheat Nuts (Wheat Nuts can be purchased online from Nadanut Nut Free Snacks; link below)
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and set aside.
- In a large microwave safe bowl add both sugars and the corn syrup. Combine by stirring gently, and microwave on high for 4 minutes.
- Add Wheat Nuts to the mixture and stir to combine. Microwave on high for 3 1/2 minutes.
- Add butter and vanilla to the bowl (the sugar will bubble vigorously), and stir gently until the butter completely melts and the mixture is smooth. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes.
- Add in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble and expands quickly as the soda is absorbed—stir cautiously until the mixture bubbles and lightens in color. Avoid over-mixing; if all the air bubbles generated by the baking soda escape, the brittle will be very dense.
- Immediately transfer the mixture to the prepared baking tray and spread it slightly, taking care to not deflate the mixture completely. Let it to cool to room temperature before breaking the brittle into small pieces.
Brittle keeps well for several days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Sources: 1840 Farm; Nadanut Nut Free Snacks