Right before Christmas, I purchased all the ingredients to make peanut brittle. My intention was to make the brittle and give it out to the kids on Christmas Day. It was more than just a treat to enjoy during the holidays. The kids’ Papa Bob, who passed away last July, was a wonderful confectioner, and well known for his peanut brittle. He made batch after batch of the candy every December, well up into his 80’s.
I did not get the brittle made before Christmas. Almost daily, I’ve thought about making that candy. And yet today, those bags of raw peanuts were still waiting on the kitchen counter. As evening approached and I was considering what to write about, I felt that nudge to check the daily holiday list. Today happens to be National Peanut Brittle Day, just the impetus that I needed to get cooking.
Bob Moore’s Peanut Brittle is his own sweet concoction, based off of an old Moore family recipe that he adapted. The candy isn’t too hard, or sticky on the teeth, making it very easy to eat. It is unique, as far as I know, in that you cook it in a skillet and you do not use a candy thermometer. Dad taught me to make the brittle years ago and that lesson is a cherished memory. I stood beside him, watching and listening as he made several batches. Then it was my turn, and he stood beside me.
There’s a knack to his method of candy making, which is very organic. Dad taught me to use my senses of smell, sight, and hearing to make the brittle. I confess that before I started the candy tonight, I was beset with doubt. It’s been five years since I’ve made a batch. I had a list of ingredients and not much else to go on. Did I still have the ability to get the candy right?
I looked up peanut brittle recipes online. None came even close to using Dad’s method and the different suggestions on when to add the peanuts, and whether to add water or not, and when to add the baking soda just added to my doubt. I squared my shoulders, asked Dad for guidance and surrendered to my instincts.
Immediately, the process came back to me. As I stirred the mixture, my senses went on alert. I was watching for the color to darken, sniffing to detect the faint aroma of cooked peanuts, and listening for the pop of peanuts as they cracked in the skillet.
My first batch came out just a bit too dark. I let it cook a minute after I heard the first peanut pop. No worries. Feeling more confident now, I quickly made a second batch. There was the color change, the aroma, and the pop of peanuts as they split. This batch, this peanut brittle, was perfect, lightly golden brown, setting up on the marble slab that was given to me by Dad Moore. I smiled.
As I studied the two batches of peanut brittle, I saw the differences. The first batch, although slightly over cooked, would still be edible I decided. As clearly as if he truly was standing next to me, I heard Dad say, “It’s okay. I always ended up with a dark batch, Hon. I ate it myself.”
Good advice, Dad.