October 17, 2008
Peanut Brittle Bar to you, Chikki to me
"Chikki" is what we used to call peanut brittle bars as children (I still call them that). Sounds kind of cute isn't it?
It is a integral sweet part of every school going kid, little bars of chikkis bought from small-shop vendors at the corner of every street.
They are traditionally made from peanuts and jaggery (Indian brown sugar), but they can also be made from other ingredients that I will get to shortly.
Life before candy thermometers was a bowl of cold water sitting beside the hot sugar syrup which was boiling away in a hot pan.
We would take a little of the sugar syrup and drop it into the bowl of water to see what stage it was at.
If the syrup dissolved it meant we could only use it as a syrup.
If we were able to shape it with our fingers, then it was at the soft-ball stage, and if we could roll it out without the sugar dissolving into a very firm ball, then it was at the hard-crack stage.
Those were fun days, getting to dunk the sugar in the water, playing around with the various stages of melted sugar, and then since those little pieces couldn't be put back into the hot boiling liquid, we would end up eating them!
Life's little pleasures.
Now, I just fit the pan with the thermometer and forget about it. These are labor less pleasures, which seem to suit today's lifestyle.
And here I speak as though I am a hundred years old!
The recipe here today is for making peanut brittle, you may substitute the peanuts with other nuts (say almonds, pecans or cashews), sesame seeds, or even puffed/beaten rice. The procedure listed below remains the same.
Peanut Brittle to you, Chikki to me
Skinned white peanuts - 2 1/2 cups (halved, not the whole peanuts)
Jaggery (Indian brown sugar) - 1 cup packed
Water - 1/4 cup
Cardamom - 1/2 tsp
Dried Ginger powder - 1/4 tsp
Dry roast the peanuts in a pan till lightly brown or microwave it for a couple of minutes till crunchy.
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper/aluminium foil and either, grease liberally or use a non-stick spray to prevent sticking.
In a non-stick pan, fit a candy thermometer, bring the jaggery and water to a boil, mixing it frequently.
When it reaches close to hard-candy stage (a little lower than that stage), turn off the heat, and immediately add the peanuts, cardamom, and dried ginger powder.
Mix well, so the peanuts are coated with the sugar syrup.
Immediately pour the entire mixture onto the greased tray, and spread with the back of the spatula into a 1/2 inch thick layer. Do this as quickly as possible, since it tends to harden quickly.
Let it sit for about an hour to cool. If you can break off a small piece, it means the brittle has set.
Now, break the entire slab into smaller pieces by hand.
Store in an air tight container for later.