Trying Hercules Candy’s Peanut Brittle Recipe

I used to do a series on the blog sharing some of my favourite food related YouTube channels before recipe testing and developing. Food channels on YouTube are super common these days but there are always channels to discover that you can get hooked on straight away and Hercules Candy is one of them. I’m not sure how I found them but at the time of writing, they have 275k subscribers and over 47 million views.

Hercules Candy is a family-run candy store in Syracuse, New York and their YouTube channel shows how they make some of their candies which they sell in store and online as well as behind the scenes of the daily running of the store. The videos are really high quality and usually over 20 minutes long making them the perfect watch when you want to relax or want something on in the background! Today’s recipe is inspired by one of their videos and one of their most popular products, Peanut Brittle! I’ve put the video of Hercules Candy making Chocolate Covered Peanut Brittle below!

In the description of the video, they give a brief paragraph about the process and quantities that go into making their peanut brittle “for those who are curious and want specifics”. Obviously I had to scale down the quantities from the 10lbs of corn syrup and the 14lbs of sugar they use to a much more friendly homestyle quantity. I actually increase the amount of peanuts than the ratio Hercules uses.

If you can’t find raw peanuts, then you can also use already roasted peanuts. They are added in later on in the cooking process otherwise they could burn. My first test of this recipe used 140g roasted peanuts and there was no burnt taste adding them in when the sugar mixture was around 128°C. Similarly if you cannot find unsalted nuts, you can use salted roasted nuts, just omit the salt from the recipe.

Corn syrup is a hard ingredient to source in the UK. While you can find it online, golden syrup is probably the easiest replacement for corn syrup and it is readily available here. Golden syrup has a slightly different flavour profile to corn syrup (as well as a different colour) so the brittle may come out differently than Hercules’s brittle. Adding the bicarbonate of soda releases loads of carbon dioxide when it hits the hot sugar mixture and the mixture expands lots. It is important to stir well to dissolve all the bicarbonate of soda.

The combination of syrup, sugar and bicarbonate of soda reminds me of honeycomb recipes. The only difference is the addition of the peanuts and the levelling out of the mixture once it’s poured out from the pan. Hercules stretch out their brittle to make it thinner which helps with getting the brittle, well, brittle! I omit this process from the recipe as the spreading out on the table gets it thin and brittle enough for me.  Hercules take their sugar mixture to 285°F (140°C). I take the mixture to a slightly higher 147°C (296°F) which is the so-called hard crack stage. This is just to extra ensure that the peanut brittle is brittle and has that snap and not a chewy stick-to-your-teeth texture.

95g golden syrup

145g granulated sugar

50ml water

160g raw uncooked peanuts

½ tsp salt

5g bicarbonate of soda

Prepare your surface to pour the peanut brittle out onto; either lightly grease a sheet of non-stick baking parchment or lightly oil your work surface.

In a large heavy based pan, add the golden syrup, sugar and water. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

If you are using raw peanuts, add the peanuts once the mixture has reached 110°C and stir to coat the peanuts in the sugar mixture. If you are using roasted peanuts, add the peanuts once the mixture has reached 128°C and stir to coat.

At this point leave the mixture to continue to cook, using a food thermometer to check the temperature. Once the mixture has reached 147°C (it will have turned a golden amber colour), remove from the heat.

Sprinkle over the salt and sift over the bicarbonate of soda evenly across the surface. Using a wooden spatula or wooden spoon, stir to incorporate the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will bubble up and expand rapidly and turn a honeycomb colour. Leave to sit for 1 minute before pouring out onto the prepared surface, scraping down the pan well. Immediately fill the pan with water and return to the heat to help wash the pan.

Using the same wooden spatula/spoon, spread out the brittle to the height of the peanuts and allow to cool fully for about an hour or so. Break up the peanut brittle into bitesize pieces and store in an airtight container to maintain the brittleness.

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