My Grandma Mona was one of my closest friends. She taught me to sew, to paint, and that “being naughty is fun”. We would drive over the mountains to stay with her for a long weekend about once a month. Besides cable television in the kid’s bedroom, another wonderful feature of G-Mo’s was the breakfast cereal. Sugary boxes of wonder awaited us, and frozen waffles were the alternate. Once in the weekend my grandpa would pull together a rich breakfast, sausages and eggs and pots and pots of coffee. I taught myself to like coffee at my grandma’s house, wanting to be like her so much that I made myself chew coffee beans until I liked them.
She did not cook much, at least in my memory, although she always allowed us to choose things from the Schwann’s truck. Golden Nugget bars, Dixie cups, and those perfectly round little pizzas were the most popular choices.
She did, however, made the best peanut brittle in the whole world. This brittle is different from your typical hard-candy-with-suspended-peanuts affair; this has two generous cups of peanut butter folded in to make a rich, buttery, slightly crumbly treat. Before she died someone had the wise thought to get the recipe, and I now own it written in her own hand.
|Top, Peanut Brittle. Bottom, Coffee Walnut Toffee.|
Perhaps like me you wanted to give small gifts to people around you, but the holidays snuck up on you and then you caught that bug that everyone had and now it’s too! late! I’m here to tell you: Make this peanut brittle and everybody will be happy.
Mona’s Soft Peanut Brittle
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups white corn syrup
2 teaspoons butter
2 cups Spanish peanuts
2 cups peanut butter (I always use creamy Jif)
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in two teaspoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Soften peanut butter in microwave until warm and runny, about 2 minutes.
In a medium saucepot, cook the the sugar, 1/4 cup water, and the corn syrup over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 275˚F/135˚C. Lower the heat to medium and add the peanuts and butter. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 300˚F/150˚C. Remove from heat and thoroughly stir in the soda-water and vanilla; mixture will spit and fizz. Lightly fold in the softened peanut butter. Pour onto one or two cookies sheets or slabs. Using a rolling pin, roll as thin as you can. Let cool. Use a flat spatula to pry up and break it into pieces.