Candy is a good thing to have hanging around. So are culinary heroes.
Unfortunately, I can’t seem to convince my personal heroes to pitch a pup tent in my kitchen, so I make do by gluing their books to my countertop and referring to them early and often.
This is my copy of The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy.
A. bought me these special sticky placeholders because I kept tearing up magazines, mail and tissues to mark pages. There’s a lot of placeholding to be done when I read any of Diana Kennedy’s books and our floors were starting to look like the morning after a confetti-riddled New Year’s Eve party.
The thing is that I absolutely relate not only to Ms. Kennedy’s cooking, but also to her story of moving to Mexico to follow her husband and falling in love with the local cuisine.
So I read and re-read her books and I cook and re-cook her dishes.
It’s like my own little book club. With delicious members-only perks at the end of each meeting!
And so we find ourselves back at this candy.
I really don’t care for commercially manufactured candy – it’s just too sweet and tastes like plastic to me. My candy of choice is rustic and homemade.
Which explains why this simple brittle from My Mexico really appealed to me.
Ms. Kennedy explains that leaving the skins on the peanuts not only allows the sugar to more easily bind itself to the nuts, but it also provides pretty coloring and a natural source of iron in the diet.
I found that the skins add an earthy flavor to the brittle that slightly cuts the sugary sweetness.
It’s a unique and extremely appealing taste.
So there you go: simple, sweet brittle and a recommendation for some most excellent office products.
adapted from My Mexico
2 3/4 c. Spanish peanuts with their skins still attached
1 2/3 c. white sugar, granulated
1 c. dark brown sugar, tightly packed
2 3/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
Place all of the ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to ensure that the sugars melt and ingredients blend.
After 5 minutes, raise the temperature to high and boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping down the sides of the pot as necessary.
After 10 minutes, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 more minutes, again, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
Finally, return to a hard boil and cook for 15-20 minutes. The finished product will be distinctly syrup-like in texture and coat the back of your spoon as you stir.
Meanwhile, as you boil for the final 15-20 minutes (50-55 minutes total cook time), line a sturdy, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Once the peanuts have cooked, pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread as evenly as possible. Set aside to cool. Once the brittle has cooled completely, snap it into pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
YIELD: approximately 2-3 pounds of brittle