Inviting some pals over to hang out can quickly turn stressful when you realize they’re going to expect some food. Before you reach for your phone to order delivery, take a few deep breaths. Homemade eats don’t have to be difficult. With original recipes from our Everyday Appetizers series, you can pull off show-stopping starters without losing your cool.
Candy is usually regarded as a treat for kids, something a little too immature for those past their teenage years. Let’s be real, though, nearly every adult uses Halloween, Christmas, and various other holidays as excuses to stock up on more sweet treats than necessary. As good as the classics are, going for something a little more sophisticated is even better. Take peanut brittle. When you add dark beer, pretzels, and potato chips to the basic recipe, it becomes downright addictive. Fortunately for you, it’s super simple to make this tasty twist in your own kitchen.
About this recipe
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: This isn’t exactly an appetizer. But because it contains so many bar snacks and a bit of booze, it somehow seems totally appropriate to have as a pre-meal snack. Plus, that additional salt and slight bitterness from the stout also mean this candy has a lot more going on than your typical sugary confection. It’s basically a dream come true for those fanatic about sweet and salty combinations.
Though the idea of making candy at home can be pretty intimidating, this is one of the best recipes to get started with. You just need to have the right equipment, which is an accurate candy or deep-fry thermometer in this case. A lot of peanut brittle recipes have you rely solely on the color of the cooked sugar, but that doesn’t work here since the beer is so dark. If you try to go by sight, you’ll end up with a pot full of burnt brittle. Get a good thermometer, and the rest is easy.
Start by cooking the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and beer in a deep pot. Yes, we really do mean deep. The mixture will foam up later on, and you need enough space to avoid winding up with boiling sugar spilling over the sides. You want to make sure to watch the temperature pretty closely as the mixture cooks as well, because hitting 300 degrees Fahrenheit is important. Anything lower will yield a candy that’s more sticky than crunchy and anything higher runs the risk of tasting burnt.
You’ll stir the peanuts, pretzels, potato chips, and baking soda into the candy all at once. This is where the foaming action happens, and you’d be surprised how much volume the mixture will take on. The reason for this foaming is the chemical reaction that occurs when the baking soda hits the syrup, creating carbon dioxide bubbles. You can read more about the process over at Livestrong. This reaction also ensures you get a candy that snaps when bitten or broken with your fingers, making it much easier to eat than a completely solid piece of cooked sugar.
After you spread the brittle out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, you just have to wait for it to cool. Then, you can easily break it into pieces to enjoy with your friends. It’s delicious on its own, but we suggest you pair this sweet treat with one of those bottles of stout you now have sitting around.
Bar Snack Brittle
Even if you’re not a stout drinker, try using the beer in this recipe. You don’t necessarily taste the beer, you just end up with something better than a traditional brittle. This makes an astounding amount of candy, but it goes fast.
- 2 cups sugar
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 1 cup stout beer
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup peanuts
- 1 cup crushed pretzels
- 1 cup crushed potato chips, preferably ridged
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
Directions: Combine sugar, corn syrup, beer, and butter in a deep, heavy pot set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Clamp on a candy or deep fry thermometer and cook mixture until temperature registers 300 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally, about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not walk away from the kitchen at this point.
While sugar mixture cooks, toss peanuts, pretzels, chips, and baking soda to combine in a medium bowl.
When sugar mixture reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit, immediately remove from heat and add peanut mixture. Stir to combine, then pour onto prepared baking sheet. Using a heatproof rubber spatula and working as quickly as possible, spread mixture as thin as you can. Let cool completely, then break into irregular pieces.
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