Original or revised, recipe produces brilliant brittle

After the Dorothy Dean recipe for peanut butter brittle appeared in last Wednesday’s Food section, I immediately got a phone call.

Reader Norma Lunden wanted us to know that the recipe we’d been printing since 1964 was wrong. She’d made it years ago and was disappointed with the results.

To make it right, she said, we needed to recommend stirring in the baking soda before the peanut butter, peanuts and vanilla.

So, following her advice, I went home and made two batches of the peanut butter brittle.

For the first one, I followed Lunden’s recommendations. For the second, I made the recipe we’d printed as it was developed by Dorothy Dean homemakers.

And here’s what I learned: Both recipes make fantastic peanut butter brittle.

Follow Lunden’s recommendation (which she learned from a friend) and it makes sublime soft peanut butter brittle. Stirring the soda into the hot syrup before the peanuts results in a softer, flakier texture in the finished candy.

The result is closer to the beloved soft peanut butter brittle at Bruttles Candies in Spokane. Some might compare it to the inside of a Butterfinger candy bar.

Here are a couple of other tips:

•Be prepared for the mixture to bubble and foam up after the baking soda is added to the hot syrup.

•Mix in the soda thoroughly, but add the peanut butter mixture quickly. Lunden says she likes to have someone help her, so she can combine it quickly. Stir the mixture just enough to thoroughly incorporate and then spread onto the pan.

•Warming the peanut butter mixture slightly (such as in the microwave on the defrost cycle) helps achieve the flakier texture.

I’m reprinting the original recipe the way it appeared in 1964, as well as in last Wednesday’s Food section. If you’d like the softer, flakier brittle described above, reverse the order of addition for the baking soda and the peanut butter mixture as suggested above.

Peanut Butter Brittle

From Dorothy Dean Homemaker Services

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 cups light corn syrup

2 cups salted peanuts

2 to 2 1/2 cups peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Combine sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat.

Spoon hot sugar syrup up the sides of the pan to wash down sugar crystals thoroughly.

Stir in corn syrup. Cook to hard crack stage, 300 to 310 degrees.

Meanwhile, mix peanuts, peanut butter and vanilla. Remove syrup from heat; at once add peanut butter mixture.

Stir in soda. Pour onto greased cookie sheet; quickly spread with a fork.

Yield: About 3 pounds of creamy peanut brittle

Nutrition per 1/8 pound: 467 calories, 26 grams fat (5 grams saturated, 50 percent fat calories), 13 grams protein, 53 grams carbohydrates, no cholesterol, 3.5 grams dietary fiber, 373 milligrams sodium.

Looking for a recipe? Have a food question? Lorie Hutson would like to hear from you. Write to Cook’s Notebook, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210, or e-mail to cooksnotebook@spokesman.com. As many letters as possible will be answered in this column; sorry, no individual replies.

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