Any similarities to peanut brittle are purely coincidental, although I must admit that this recipe was supposed to be that glossy and transparent slab of break-your-teeth confection. Perhaps it was the heavy-with-humidity weather, or that the original recipe was too vague in its method when candy making requires the most precision of all culinary arts.
In any case, I got better than I knew I wanted, a gently crunchy, butterscotch-rich sweet that has nary a bit of butter in it. Sparked by the elusive taste of sea salt, this vegan treat does not have a smooth, slick mouth feel, but melts on the tongue with a slightly sandy texture that delivers a quick sugar rush to the brain. Enjoyed with a tall glass of ice water, it makes an ideal mid-afternoon pick-me-up when energy and focus flag. Any odd bits can be easily ground into powder or paste for use in extravagant entremets or to scatter atop a simple mound of ice cream. If you are feeling lazy and louche, you can always lick the crumbs off your fingertips when no one is looking.
Peanut Praline with Sea Salt - Slightly adapted from the Martha Stewart recipe referenced above.
2 cups natural, unrefined granulated cane sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups skinned, roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted)
1 teaspoon sea salt
Have ready a greased metal spatula or large metal spoon, as well as a greased sheet of parchment paper fitted in a standard cookie sheet.
In a large bowl that does not have non-stick coating, combine sugar, water, and vanilla extract. Over high heat, leave undisturbed until sugar has dissolved. Stir with a wooden spoon. Maintain high heat. When mixture comes to a rolling boil, it will foam up. (The mixture will be dangerously hot at this point; to avoid burns, maintain respectful distance from this point forth.) Stir again. Regulate heat so that syrup does not boil over. Stir occasionally for the next 10 minutes or until the syrup turns a medium brown amber color and is reduced by half. For greater accuracy, use a candy thermometer to ensure the temperature of the syrup reaches 235-240 ° F. (N.B. - Texture of candy will largely be determined by humidity level in your air.)
Quickly stir peanuts into syrup, then pour onto parchment paper in a sweeping motion to cover the most surface. Immediately spread the mixture with the spatula or domed side of spoon to even. Mixture will begin to cool and set very quickly. After 5 minutes, lightly touch surface. It should be very warm and tacky, but not hot. Scatter sea salt over surface. Let fully cool before breaking it easily by hand into shards. Store leftovers in a metal tin lined with wax paper. -
This recipe is for Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen, for her inaugural as new doyenne of MLLA, taking over from my long tenure as creator and administrator. Lisa's round-up for #56 will be online in a few days.