I was thankful for the freezing cold weather this week since my covered front porch served as an extra freezer for my baking date. My friend Kathe and I got together, as we usually do at this time of year, to crank out loads and loads of edible sweets — including peanut brittle, pralines and holiday chocolate bark — to give as gifts to teachers, neighbors and friends! As we melted, stirred and spread our no-bake concoctions onto parchment paper, we took turns running in and out of my house, from warm to cold. My front porch, which was covered with our tasty treats, expedited the hardening phase of all our candies, allowing us to then spend some time later packaging and tying ribbons and bows.
We had quite an assembly line going for our gift making extravaganza. And, as we were busy baking (or no baking) away, we were well aware that other people were out in the world, part of the maddening holiday crowds, buying their gifts. If only they could get a glimpse of Kathe and I, spending time together having fun, while making gifts ourselves — there’s always next year!
As Kathe walked out my door two hours later, my two other friends (Suzy and Jackie) walked in and the second phase of holiday gift making began. Suzy, who couldn’t believe what Kathe and I had created together, right away was inspired and began mixing her granola ingredients. While her granola baked, my friends helped me package the rest of my food in cellophane bags. I chopped and assembled a quick salad, and we sat together enjoying a quick lunch, as the sweet aroma of honey almond granola filled my kitchen.
Chocolate Peanut Brittle
Makes one sheet
This peanut brittle is simple to make since it’s done in the microwave. I like to use a microwave safe non-glass (plastic) bowl so that the ingredients don’t burn. Since the syrup gets incredibly hot, make sure to wear an oven mitt when spreading the mixture onto parchment paper. Break the brittle into nice size pieces and package in decorative cellophane bags for holiday gifts.
8 ounces good quality semi sweet chocolate (2 4-ounce baking bars)
1 cup roasted and salted peanuts
½ cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. First cook the chocolate on high for one minute. Stir and cook again in 30 second intervals until smoothly melted. Spread onto parchment paper and harden in a cool place.
In a large microwave safe bowl, combine light corn syrup, sugar and peanuts. Stir together and cook on high heat for four minutes. Stir well and cook for another 4 minutes. Add the butter and cook for two more minutes. Stir well and the remove from microwave and quickly add the vanilla extract and baking soda. Stir and, as the mixture gets foamy, quickly spread the peanut mixture evenly on the layer of chocolate. You’ll need to work quickly and carefully since it hardens very quickly and is incredibly hot.
Let the brittle cool and then break into pieces.