After spending a full afternoon making double batches of dough for 4 different holiday cookie recipes, I still had a little starch left in me and decided to try this intriguing peanut brittle recipe found in Food & Wine Magazine. This giftable brittle from chef LaMara Davidson is loaded with toasty peanuts, pepitas, and smoky, sweet ancho chile powder.
Baking soda reacts with the acidic caramelized sugar to create the tiny air pockets that give the candy a porous and snappy texture. FYI, the molten sugar will bubble up vigorously when adding the baking soda, so be sure to use a long-handled wooden spoon for safe stirring. In place of a candy thermometer, which we didn’t have, use a probe meat thermometer.
Work quickly when spreading the brittle on the buttered baking sheet as the caramelized syrup will begin to thicken as soon as it hits the cold pan. Once completely cooled, the candy can be broken into a mosaic of shards. Speckled with rusty-red chile powder, loaded with nuts and sprinkled with flaky sea salt, this delectable brittle was packaged in small festive bags along with the homemade cookies as a flavorful holiday gift.
Ancho powder is ground ancho (pablano) chile peppers, and is a dark smokey chili with a deep rich flavor and mild to medium heat, with a somewhat sweet flavor. If you like more of a spicy note, add a small amount of either cayenne pepper or pimentón picante. Spanish pimentón can be spicy, sweet, or smoky, but it’s almost always better than the regular grocery store paprika.
Toasted Pepita and Ancho Chile Peanut Brittle
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 oz.), cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus softened unsalted butter, for greasing
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups dry roasted peanuts
- 1 1/4 cups roasted salted pepitas
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. ancho chile powder, plus more for garnish
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- Generously grease a 13- x 18-inch rimmed baking sheet with butter; set aside.
- Stir together sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 cup water, and kosher salt in a medium saucepan; attach a candy thermometer to side of pan. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until mixture reaches 280°F, 18 to 20 minutes.
- Stir in cubed butter, peanuts, pepitas, ancho chile powder, vanilla, and cinnamon until mixture is well combined and butter is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring often, until mixture is golden brown and reaches 300°F, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add baking soda, stirring until well combined. (Mixture will bubble up vigorously.) Working quickly, immediately pour brittle mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Gently shake baking sheet to smooth brittle into a thin, even layer, or use the back of a spoon to spread brittle into a thin, even layer. (Lightly grease spoon with butter if brittle sticks.)
- Sprinkle hot brittle evenly with flaky sea salt; garnish with additional ancho chile powder.
- Let brittle cool completely at room temperature, about 30 minutes. Break into pieces.
Recipe by LaMara Davidson for Food & Wine