Gifts from the kitchen and homemade treats are usually a hit for holidays and can be dressed up with a fancy container, gift bag or festive platter to add to the gift. Peanut brittle is a delicious treat that is quick and easy to make.
North Carolina produced 342 million pounds of peanuts in 2016 and ranks 6th in the nation in peanut production. Leading peanut-producing counties are Martin, Pitt, Halifax, Bertie, Edgecombe and Hertford. Most N.C. peanut farmers grow the Virginia-type peanut that is most often sold as cocktail peanuts or as the in-shell peanuts popular at ballgames.
This recipe is courtesy of the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association. For more peanut recipes: http://aboutpeanuts.com/peanut-recipes/
Stove top preparation:
In a heavy saucepan, heat sugar, syrup, water and salt to a rolling boil. Add peanuts. Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly. **Cook to hard-crack stage (293° to 300° F.) Add butter, then baking soda. Beat rapidly and pour on a buttered surface spreading to 1/4-inch thickness. When cool break into pieces. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 2 pounds.
**Note: In the absence of a candy thermometer, test for hard crack stage by dropping a tiny bit of syrup into ice water (let it thread from a spoon into the water). When the threads are brittle (not pliable) it has reached the hard-crack stage.
Microwave oven preparation:
Combine peanuts, sugar, syrup, and salt in a 2 -1/2 quart microwave safe container. For a 700-watt oven microwave on high power: Microwave 4 minutes; stir, microwave 4 minutes longer. Stir in butter and vanilla. Microwave 2 minutes longer. For a 1200 watt oven microwave at 60 percent power: Microwave 4 minutes; stir, microwave 4 minutes longer. Stir in butter and vanilla. Microwave 1 minute longer. Add baking soda and quickly stir until light and foamy. Immediately pour onto lightly greased baking sheet; spread to ¼ inch thickness. When cool, break into pieces. Store in airtight container.
**Any cooking time adjustments necessary for lower or higher watt ovens must be made BEFORE adding baking soda.