You see, my friend Spryte, at Spryte's Place, posted a link to a blogged recipe in one of the forums. Upon reading the afore mentioned post at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's HoneyBunch, I found myself, at once, both drooling on my keyboard and staring at the clock, wondering when I could get away from my desk and get into my kitchen to whip up some good old fashioned peanut brittle with a more modern "fusion" twist.
To be honest, I don't make "Candy" that often. I work with Chocolate a lot, especially truffles, during the holidays, but not candy. There is very sound scientific reason for this. Making candy requires the controlled re-crystallization of sugar. Sugar, or your standard granulated white sugar (sucrose), is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air. Thus in times of high humidity, the supersaturated sugar solution does not recrystallize properly. I currently live in San Diego, and while it is very Desert-esque, it is still an oceanside city and for all the lack of rain, the humidity tends to be above 50% on a regular basis, usually closer to 60%. This is too high for most sugar work. Things like Almond Roca and Brittle tend to end up sticky and chewy instead of crisp and crunchy. I have YET to accomplish properly "set" Divinity or Sea Foam (Divinity made with brown sugar), since moving here.
But I had to try this recipe anyway, because I love salty and sweet things like Pay Day candy bars. I have also recently found out that I like a little smoke flavor along with sweet and salt. Reminiscent of the Chocolate Covered Hickory Smoked Bacon I made awhile back after seeing it on Dinner Impossible. So it stands to rights, that the addition of smoky Chipotle powder to sweet yet salty peanut brittle would be something I would like.
Oh yeah Baby! This stuff is AWESOME!!! The Chipotle powder breathes new life into an old fashioned candy, giving it a Latin/TexMex flair. It's JUST the right amount of warmth, without being "hot" with subtle nuances of smoky caramel. Absolutely delicious.
I really liked the addition of the baking soda as well, it "lightens" the toffee a little bit. It reacts with the acids in the Corn Syrup or in my case, the Honey and produces Carbon dioxide, foaming up the candy syrup. Which reminds me of Sponge Toffee and Honey Comb candy (They are really the same thing, but Sponge Toffee is made with Corn syrup or Golden syrup while Honeycomb involves Honey)
The original recipe came from Cooking Light's May 2009 edition; I adapted it slightly by using honey.
Chipotle Peanut Brittle
Unsalted Butter for the pan
1 cup sugar
1 cup Honey
1 TB Unsalted Butter
Pinch of Salt
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Chipotle Chile powder
12 oz lightly salted Dry Roasted Peanuts
Butter a rimmed half sheet.
In a small bowl, mix Baking Powder and Chipotle powder and set aside.
Combine Sugar, Honey, Butter, and pinch of Salt in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.
Stir occasionally until the mixture begins to boil,
then cover for 5 minutes to wash down sugar crystals.
Remove cover and continue cooking until your candy thermometer registers 276 degrees.
Continue cooking until the candy thermometer register 295 degrees, stirring constantly to prevent scorching of the peanuts.
Remove from heat; stir in Baking Soda and Chipotle powder.
The baking soda will cause the mixture to bubble and become opaque.
Stir quickly to incorporate, then pour mixture onto prepared pan and smooth as quickly as possible before it sets.
Cool mixture completely; break into pieces.
Store in an airtight container to keep it away from moisture - do not refrigerate.