I adore Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year. I start my Christmas shopping in April and by November my gifts are usually wrapped and my handmade cards addressed and ready to be mailed. This is right about the time that I start making my gifts for the masses. Envy me or hate me, but at least I’m willing to share some of my secrets.
The one thing that kills me about Christmas is that I usually end up spending money on people I don’t know all that well. By the time my credit card bill rolls around in January, I’m no longer feeling the love for Santa. This year, I’m making gifts for the people to whom I’d like to pass a little “cheer” without depleting my savings account. I debated a few options. Knitting scarves was a fleeting thought. I would have needed to start that in September. Bottles of wine seem cliché, and some of my colleagues don’t drink. I think a food gift is my best bet, mostly because I’m a decent cook, but also because my friends and co-workers are good eaters.
The options for food gifts are endless. My criteria are as follows: 1) It has to be insanely easy to make. If I’m making something in large batches, I don’t want a hassle. 2) It has to be cheap. If I have to buy gourmet ingredients, I might as well start knitting.
This year, I’ve chosen peanut brittle. I searched all of my favorite websites and cookbooks for recipes and decided on the one that follows, mostly because it can be microwaved. I’m just hoping none of my friends are allergic to peanuts!
This year, I’ll be wrapping my peanut brittle in cute little bags made by a certain domestic diva and available for purchase at a major craft store in the suburbs. You may wish to go to the store, look at the design, and recreate them yourself with a personal touch. There are a lot of ways to creatively wrap food gifts, you can get artsy or, like me, buy something at a shop that was made with food gifting in mind- so unleash your inner designer and go crazy! And, while you’re at it, have a happy holiday!
Best Ever Brittle
1 1/2 cups raw peanuts* ∙ 1 cup white sugar ∙ 1/2 cup light corn syrup ∙ 1 pinch salt (optional) ∙
1 tbsp butter ∙ 1 tsp vanilla extract ∙ 1 tsp baking soda
Grease a baking sheet and set it aside. In a glass bowl, combine peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Heat in microwave for 6 to 7 minutes on high; mixture should be bubbly and peanuts browned. Stir in butter and vanilla; cook 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Quickly stir in baking soda, just until mixture is foamy. Pour immediately onto greased baking sheet. Let cool 15 minutes, or until set (this can be longer depending on the moisture content in the air). Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.
*If you are unable to find raw peanuts, cocktail peanuts may be substituted. Simply reduce the initial cook time to 4-5 minutes and the second cook time to 1-2 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning the nuts.