Deliciousness arithmetic

To my way of thinking, all good holidays are at least a little bit about indulgence. (Okay… maybe a lot.) Last year that philosophy translated into some enormous bacon chocolate chip cookies. And this year, it led to a rather addictive batch of salted peanut brittle dipped in super dark chocolate.

Here’s my thought process:

crunchy = good
crunchy +  salty = better
crunchy + salty + sweet = awesome
crunchy + salty + sweet + buttery = ridiculously awesome
crunchy + salty + sweet + buttery + chocolate-covered = <head explodes>

This brittle is too good not to share. So, as my final (belated) gift this holiday season, here you go. Apologies in advance to your new year’s resolutions.

Salty Chocolate Peanut Brittle
(adapted from Tina Ujlaki’s Best-Ever Nut Brittle in Food & Wine)

2 cups cane sugar
1/2 cup water
1 stick salted butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces roasted salted skinless peanuts
large-crystal flake salt
1 9.7-oz bar of Scharffen Berger 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate
1 9.7-oz bar of Scharffen Berger 99% cacao unsweetened chocolate

Combine the sugar, water, butter, and corn syrup in a large saucepan with flat sides and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until light brown. When the caramel hits 300°F on a candy thermometer, remove it from the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda (it will bubble madly for a minute–don’t be afraid, and make sure you stir it in all the way).

Stir in the peanuts, then immediately scrape the brittle onto a large rimmed baking sheet lined with a Silpat. Use the back of a large spoon to quickly spread the brittle out (it will cool quickly, so work fast). Sprinkle generously with the flake salt while it’s still warm. Let the brittle cool completely, then break it into shards.

While the brittle is cooling, roughly chop the chocolate and melt about 2/3 of it in a double boiler. Stir steadily with a silicon spatula until the chocolate reaches 115°F on a candy thermometer, then immediately remove it from the heat and stir in the rest of the chopped chocolate pieces.

As soon as the chocolate cools to 84°F, put it back on the double boiler for a few seconds. Then remove it, stir, and repeat. Keep doing this until the chocolate gets back up to about 88°F. Do NOT let it go above 91°F. (This process tempers the chocolate so it will stay smooth and shiny–without those weird light patches–when it cools.)

You want your chocolate to stay between 85°F and 88°F while you dip the brittle pieces, so keep the candy thermometer in there. If the chocolate starts to cool off too much, repeat the process of heating over the double boiler and stirring to bring it back up to 88°F, then continue dipping. Place the dipped pieces on sheets of parchment or a Silpat to cool.

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