Chipotle Peanut Brittle

1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla
½ Tbsp chipotle chile powder

1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup light corn syrup

3 Tbsp butter
1 lb plain, unsalted peanuts


  • Grease or line a cookie sheet.
  • Mix together the baking soda, water, vanilla, and chipotle powder in a small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, water, and corn syrup. Head over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit. The liquid should be boiling and the bubbles should make the mixture actually feel thick as you stir it.
  • When it reaches the desired temperature, add the butter and peanuts. Stir until all is combined and cook for just a bit longer, until the liquid is just turning golden brown and it has reached 300 degrees. Immediately remove from heat and add the baking soda-chipotle mixture. Stir to combine.
  • Using a spatula, pour the mixture onto the cookie sheet and spread it into a thin layer. Let it cool for about an hour, then break into pieces and eat/store.

  1. You are a smart, talented person with lots of ideas and skills.
  2. Sometimes, you make mistakes and mess things up.
  3. Item #2 does not negate item #1.

Does anyone else sometimes feel that they should have this tattooed on their hand or something? I absolutely do. I had a reminder of that while I made this recipe for the first time over the weekend.

Candy is, even more so than baking, more science than art. Getting sugar and sugar mixtures to do the right things at the right time is all about temperature and timing, which makes it totally easy as long as you follow the rules and practically impossible if you don’t. Which is why I was watching the temperature on my candy thermometer like a hawk and stirring things a bit obsessively.

Which meant that, when it came time to quickly take the saucepan of peanuts and liquid off the burner and pour it onto the pan, I didn’t think to turn off the burner before I quickly set the baking sheet on top of it and poured the peanut brittle onto it. Candy does strange things, so I didn’t make the connection quickly as I watched the brittle continue to bubble and blacken over the screaming hot burner. Luckily, James entered the room and figured things out before I did, and luckily, we have an outside currently at 18 degrees and covered with snow that we were able to put the smoking pan out into.

Some of that batch was salvageable, but that didn’t stop me from having a pretty rollicking pity party for myself for about ten minutes. So if you also needed this kind of reminder in your life, here it is: you’re doing great! You should be really proud of all that you’ve accomplished. And if you’ve just screwed up, remember that “screwing up” is a verb, it’s an act, not a noun, not a state of being.

And if you need a delicious holiday treat or gift in your life, try this Chipotle Peanut Brittle! The chipotle pepper is definitely on the subtle side, so if you want more up-front spiciness, try kicking up the chipotle to ¾ of a tablespoon or a whole tablespoon. And if you want to give it a blackened, smoky sort of flavor, try torching the whole pan on a really hot burner. Oh wait. No, don’t do that. That’s the wrong message to take away from this story.

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