Although it is a very popular type of sweet candy, the history of peanut brittle is unclear. Its origins are still subject to debate.
There is no direct evidence that states when this confection was invented. There are actually accounts which state that its invention was the result of a mistake. One account states that in 1890, a woman in New England was creating some taffy. She accidentally poured baking soda to the mix instead of tartar cream. She tasted the mixture and found it delicious. Eventually she gave some to her friends and word quickly spread.
Another theory is that it was originally a Celtic dessert. According to the story, the Celts served this during the holidays. Thus, the history of peanut brittle began in Europe according to this legend. Supposedly the Celts made them by mixing sugar with peanut butter and baking them.
From Europe the food made its way to America in the 1830s. This was courtesy of the Irish that settled in the New World. These immigrants came to be known for their cooking. Among their delicacies of course, was this mixture of peanut butter and sugar.
Whatever its origins, the confection became immensely popular in America. It became a popular treat even among soldiers who took it with them when they went to battle. During the colonial days, it became very popular too.
How the Confection is Made
While the debate about the history of peanut brittle continues, its basic ingredients have remained the same. There are some subtle changes made by manufacturers, but the basic components remain the same.
First, sugar is combined with water and baked up to 300 C. The result is caramel. Some peanuts are then added. The peanuts themselves can be pecan, almonds or any other type. Other spices and sweets are usually added at this point. Next, a pan is taken out and the mix is laid down. It is left to cool. When it has cooled sufficiently, the pieces are chopped into smaller pieces. The duration for cooking varies.
According to the Celtic history of peanut brittle, the sweets were made through roasting. It was also served with other sweets like cream. This is still followed by some makers today. Some also make use of corn syrup for added taste.
The sweet treat has become very popular in other countries too. This has resulted in some variations of the dish. One popular style is to mix the sugar, water and add some salt too. When they are mixed thoroughly, some baking soda is added. The mixture is laid on a pan and flattened with a spoon. After it cools down, you can slice it into smaller pieces.
One of the nice things about making it this way is that the cooling process is quick. It takes more or less a minute for the entire mix to cool down.
Whatever disagreements there may be about the history of peanut brittle, there is no questioning its popularity. Today it has become a source not just of pleasure but also livelihood for several people.