Croccante Americano (aka Peanut Brittle)

Croccante is Italy’s version of nut brittle. It’s a holiday treat many of our mothers, nonnas and zias typically made with almonds. A few years back, I discovered a recipe for croccante americano — aka peanut brittle — that is highly addictive and made even more delicious by a light sprinkling of sea salt as a final touch. This recipe has become a favourite in our family and was featured in Panoram Italia magazine.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  •  1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups roasted salted peanuts
  • Fleur de Sel or Maldon salt for sprinkling
  • Candy thermometer

Method:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a stainless steel saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture turns a light brown colour and registers 300F on a candy thermometer. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes. It is essential to use a candy thermometer here. The caramel must reach 300F — the hard crack stage — to set properly and achieve that perfect, crunchy texture.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble.
  5. Stir in the nuts, then quickly pour the brittle onto the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Spread the brittle into an even layer using a lightly-oiled spatula.
  7. Lightly sprinkle with Fleur de Sel or Maldon salt.
  8. Let the brittle cool completely (about 25 minutes) and break into large shards. The brittle should be stored in an airtight container and kept in a cool, dry place. Use parchment paper to separate layers of brittle to prevent them from sticking together.
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