Here’s my recipe for peanut brittle without corn syrup, because honestly, you don’t really need corn syrup to make a good old brittle! This recipe is a throwback to the one I was eating as a child in the Caribbean. On my island peanut brittle is made with brown sugar (instead of white sugar) and spices (traditionally nutmeg and cinnamon, but you could add whatever you fancy). The crunchiness of the caramel and peanuts, the warmth of the spices, the depth of flavor brought by the melted cane (or brown) sugar, it all combines to make one heck of an addictive treat!
This is not an intricate recipe as the main steps involve making the ‘caramel’ and mixing in the other ingredients. Then you pour everything into a pan and voila, you’re already done! BUT caramel can be tricky if 1) you’re using the wrong pan, 2) you’re not cooking it over low heat.
To make caramel I always use a stainless steel saucepan. Yes, it takes a longer time to heat up, but the caramel will cook evenly as stainless steel offers great heat conductivity. You don’t want heat pocket where patches of your caramel will burn while most of it isn’t even properly melted. You’ll get a smooth result with stainless steel.
Because it takes longer to heat up, you might be tempted to increase the heat to speed up the process and that’s a no-go! Cooking your caramel over low heat is way safer. You’ll be more in control, changes won’t happen in a second, and if you have pieces of crystallized sugar they’ll have more time to melt away. If your caramel burns, all the peanuts and spices in the world won’t cover the bitter taste so be patient. It might take 20 min for your sugar to melt entirely but since it’s a dry caramel you don’t have to do anything, just let it cook without stirring. But always keep an eye on it!
CANE SUGAR vs CASTER SUGAR
I use air quotes for caramel as I don’t think I can technically call this a caramel since it’s made out of melted cane sugar (or brown sugar) not caster sugar. Brown sugar is moister than white sugar due to its molasses content. If you can’t find cane sugar, using light brown sugar will be fine. I’ve also made this peanut brittle several times with caster sugar, and it works as well. Actually my husband prefers a peanut brittle made with caster sugar because it’s sweeter and he’s not crazy about the molasses toffee-like taste of brown sugar or sugar cane. On the other hand, I prefer a peanut brittle made with cane sugar because that’s what I grew up with and to me, it has a much deeper flavor.
It all comes down to personal taste, use whichever sugar you prefer according to how sweet you want your peanut brittle without corn syrup (white sugar making the sweetest peanut brittles).
CARIBBEAN PEANUT BRITTLE
On my island peanut brittle is called in French nougat pistache, which can seem pretty weird because 1) it’s definitely not a nougat and 2) it’s made with peanuts, not pistachio. In creole, peanut brittle is called sik-a-pistache, meaning pistachio sugar. Don’t even ask me we are referring to peanuts as pistachios, I have no idea, just roll with it. I don’t think many people made their own peanut brittle as it was so widely available. But when I feel homesick (especially in the depth of winter), it’s so great to know I can make my favorite childhood treat with just a few ingredients.
In primary school, there was a lady coming to our school every Thursday during recess to sell sweets and traditional Caribbean confections. I used to bug my parents until they would give me a couple of coins so that I could buy some peanut brittle. And I say that she was coming to our school, but technically she wasn’t allowed in so she was passing us the sweets through the school’s fence. Now I kinda get why my parents weren’t too keen on me buying sweets from a stranger through a fence. But I could be such an annoying child when my mind was set on something, I don’t blame them for yielding. I was extremely thankful for my Thursday peanut brittle (and so were my friends, yes I was sharing, I wasn’t such a spoiled brat).
➝ How can I make peanut brittle without corn syrup? Easy! Corn syrup is inverted sugar. It prevents the sugar from crystallizing and keeps everything smooth. No one likes grainy caramel, am I right? The good news is, adding a little acid (in here lemon juice, but cream of tartar or citric acid also works) does the same thing! It keeps your caramel fluid. So if corn syrup isn’t available in your country, or you don’t want to use it for health reasons, these substitutes will help you in all your sugar work endeavors.
➝ Which peanuts should I use? In Martinique, we grow a lot of groundnuts and there are people everywhere selling delicious roasted in-shell peanuts. However, I soon realized that it was damn near impossible to find in-shell peanuts in France. So I use roasted peanuts from the supermarket and it works fine as long as they are unsalted.Print
You don’t need corn syrup to make a good peanut brittle ! Try the Caribbean version I grew up with; made with brown sugar and spices, you’re in for a delicious crunchy treat.
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 150g cane sugar (2/3 cup) (or light brown sugar)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 150g unsalted peanuts (1 cup)
- Line a 19*14cm (8*5in) baking pan with overhanging parchment paper and lightly brush with oil.
- Put the sugar in a large heavy-bottomed pan (preferably a steel pan) and shake the pan to level the sugar.
- Set the pan over low heat and cook without stirring until the sugar has completed melted, about 20 min. The caramel should have a dark amber color and be smooth.
- If you still have pieces of crystallized sugar after 20 min, lower the heat and swirl the pan gently for 5 min, dragging the dry sugar into the wet. If they don’t melt and your caramel turns too dark, you might have to start over as your brittle might end up too bitter.
- Take the pan off the heat and add the spices, lemon juice, and the peanuts. Stir with an oiled spatula.
- Pour into the prepared pan and use the spatula to spread the caramel as evenly as possible and to smooth the top. The caramel will be pretty sticky and harden quickly, so be fast.
- Let the peanut brittle set at room temperature and check the consistency with your fingertip every 15 min.
- When the peanut brittle is almost set, lift the brittle with the overhanging parchment paper, peel off the paper and set on a cutting board. Cut the peanut brittle into rough squares with a sharp knife.
- Put the pieces of the brittle back into the pan and wait for them to completely set before serving.
The peanut brittle will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
If you want you can wrap the peanut brittle pieces individually in cellophane or wax paper.
- Serving Size: 1 square
- Calories: 198
- Fat: 11g
Keywords: brittle, caramel, peanut brittle, cane sugar, confections, Caribbean