Friday, January 30, 2009

Espresso Peanut Brittle For A Winter Afternoon

So often when a loved one departs, they take with them secret knowledge. When my father passed away along with him went the peanut brittle recipe. My niece, the last eye witness, claimed she saw him add Sanka brand decaffeinated coffee. Consequently the peanut brittle recipe has become the subject of family debate, no one is quite sure if the coffee was added or not. Now, I have an idea that coffee really was a part of dad’s recipe. Today Dieter made an espresso peanut brittle. Wondering about the mystery of the Sanka, he poured a fresh brewed cup of morning espresso into the recipe to see how it would taste. Of the three peanut brittle flavors he made today; plain, coconut and coffee, the coffee flavored was best.

Dieter’s Espresso Peanut Brittle:
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup fresh brewed espresso
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, and espresso in 3 quart medium or heavy weight sauce pan. Cook and stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boil. Add butter. Stir constantly until the recipe reaches 280 degrees. Add peanuts and continue to stir, the mixture will become thick, rapid stirring is essential, to prevent scorching. When the reaches 305 degrees, remove from heat and quickly stir in baking soda, mixing thoroughly. Immediately pour and spread with spoon onto two sheet pans lined with parchment. As the mixture cools, begin stretching by lifting and pulling from edges. Use a spatula to lift the edges. The mixture is hot! Cool and break it into pieces. Makes 2-1/2 pounds.

One of the recipes Dieter referenced was Jimmy Carter’s favorite peanut brittle from “The Peanut Cookbook”. I was delighted to see the cover illustration was done by Edward Gorey. Thank you Dorothy C. Frank for including this presidential gem. (Published by Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. / 1976)

Jimmy Carter’s favorite Peanut Brittle:
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup white corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 cups raw peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Boil the sugar, water, and syrup until it spins a thread. Add peanuts and stir continuously until syrup turns golden brown. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Stir until butter melts.

Pour up on two cookie sheets with sides. As mixture begins to harden around edges, pull until thin.

A recipe for peanut brittle is described alongside a discussion of the beginning of the menstrual period in this Lydia E. Pinkham's pamphlet from the late 1800’s.

Pamphlets like this one, provided useful recipes interspersed with product testimonials and recommendations, a useful booklet not likely to be thrown away. This advertising format seems have morphed into our current day infomercial. Lydia E. Pinkham's was a vegetable compound, “Blood Medicine” given for just about everything. Here it is suggested to help every month for weakness during menstrual periods. “Many a woman has suffered years of misery because as a girl she was allowed to sit around with wet feet, lift heavy articles, overwork and over study. If any girl at that time suffers from pain or other disturbances Lydia E.Pinkham's Vegetable Compound should be given.

We all know the benefit of veggies but believe me when I tell you a hefty dose of espresso peanut brittle will wash away your winter blues, amen!


rmom said...

I just ate the last two pieces of the peanut brittle that Mom brought to us a few weeks ago. I'm pretty sure that Dad used Sanka in his. This tasted very close to his.

Sharon Haywood said...

These recipes sounds scrumptious !! :-) :-)

polly + dieter said...

Thank you for your comment. We liked the espresso brittle the best!