Does anyone remember Garbage Pail Kids? Can I go predictably off-course here and admit, as I just did to my husband, who is now cracking up, that I was kind of scared of them when they came out? It was 1985! I was young! I was super into Cabbage Patch Kids and definitely did not have a grasp of parody and was this… something that could happen to a Cabbage Patch Kid? I mean, was it going to happen to mine? Why did everyone find them so funny? Ahem, right, so of course I now find them dark and brilliant, which should be no surprise given that they were co-invented by Art Spiegelman, something I learned exactly five minutes ago from Wikipedia but will now pretend I knew all along.
I bet you’re thinking, as per usual, “What on earth does this have to do with cooking, Deb? Focus, please!” But what I’d wanted to tell you is that for nearly eight years now, I’ve an item on my Halloween To-Cook List called “Garbage Pail Brittle,” which I’d hoped would invoke the chaos of the cards but in a less haunting to elementary school kids format. My theory was that, sure, peanut, almond and fancy seed brittles are lovely and elegant, but you know what would be even more awesome? Rice crispies. Potato chips. Pretzels. Because everyone knows that salt, crispy snacky stuff is aces against caramel, butter and chocolate.
Well, the good news is that I finally got this item off my to-cook list so you don’t have to. The bad news is that potato chips and crispy rice? Just okay in brittle. I mean, nobody hated it, but it wasn’t as special as the eight-year build-up warranted. Pretzels, however… you need to do this. Pretzels are deeply delicious when brittled. They even more spectacular when mixed with salted peanuts. They’re even more insanely good when lidded with melted dark chocolate, smashed into chunks with a hammer and tucked in a container that is, thankfully, about 15 feet outside my reach right now or I’d be one of those wicked, wicked people who lies to children, such as my own, who I lectured this morning about why we can’t have candy for breakfast. I mean, phew.
Something new and wonderful is coming next week! For the last 9 years, we’ve had a pretty barebones newsletter system on Smitten Kitchen; new recipes/posts arrive in your inbox the morning after they’re published. They’re pretty fugly; little has changed in the last decade. For some time, as newsletter technology has vastly improved, I’ve been dreaming of creating a better email, one that is a true weekly digest of all the delicious new and worth revisiting cookery on Smitten Kitchen and at last, that day is here! The new newsletter will include not just new recipes, but seasonal picks and weekly archive highlights, carefully tailored to what we all want to be cooking right now. Sounds good? Enter your email address below and your first weekly email will arrive next week:.
One year ago: Squash Toasts with Ricotta and Cider Vinegar
Two years ago: Potato and Broccolini Frittata
Three years ago: Apple Cider Caramels
Four years ago: Pear Cranberry and Gingersnap Crumble
Five years ago: Buckeyes
Six years ago: Baked Chicken Meatballs
Seven years ago: Pink Lady Cake and Cabbage and Mushroom Galette
Eight years ago: Cranberry Caramel and Almond Tart
Nine years ago: Easiest Baked Mac-and-Cheese
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Crispy Broccoli with Lemon and Garlic
1.5 Years Ago: Lamb Meatballs with Feta and Lemon
2.5 Years Ago: Spring Vegetable Potstickers
3.5 Years Ago: Cinnamon Toast French Toast
4.5 Years Ago: Sour Cream Cornbread with Aleppo
Chocolate Peanut and Pretzel Brittle
A few notes: You can replace the peanuts with pretzels if nut allergies are a concern. I have only made this with corn syrup and/or golden syrup but theoretically, honey
and/or maple syrup (early comment responses on maple syrup: not positive) as a replacement should work as well because the quantity is so small. I didn’t do it here, but thought it might be fun to play around with replacing the water with beer (you could use up to 1/2 cup) for a more grown-up flavor.
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup or golden syrup
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup broken-up chunks of thin salted pretzels
3/4 cup roasted salted peanuts
3/4 to 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Either grease a large cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Get all of your other ingredients ready; you’re going to need to add them quickly in a few minutes, and you won’t have time to hunt and measure.
Combine sugar, corn or golden syrup and water in a medium saucepan, stirring just until sugar is wet. Attach a candy thermometer and heat over medium-high heat, without stirring, until mixture reaches between 300 and 305 degrees F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you’re looking for a small amount of the mixture dropped into cold water to separate into hard, brittle threads. This takes exactly 9 minutes on my stove.
Remove from heat and quickly stir in butter (until it melts), baking soda, peanuts and pretzels until all are coated. Pour quickly out onto prepared pan. Use a spatula or, even better, two forks to pull and stretch the mixture as flat as you can get it, working quickly. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and let rest for 5 minutes so that they soften. Once they are all soft, use a spatula to spread them over the brittle.
None of us has time or patience for waiting for these to cool, right? I put them directly in the freezer for 20 minutes, after which point the chocolate is firm, the base is cold and I get to bash the brittle into bite-sized chunks. (I like to lift pieces up onto the rim of the baking sheet and use something heavy to break them from there. I do not advise breaking it up with your hands, the warmth of which will make a mushy mess of the chocolate.)
Store in a container at room temperature, far out of your own reach.
144 comments on chocolate peanut and pretzel brittle
so excited for your newsletter deb! long time reader first time commenter. loved following along through your pregnancy as I had my first baby in June. We joked she might come out a watermelon I ate so much of it. happy halloween to you and your fam!
You had me at “Garbage Pail Brittle”.
Mmmm want. Now.
This looks fantastic, thanks for sharing! Could you please finish this sentence in the instructions? “Finally, the chocolate will melt and firm up but”.
Thanks again. :)
Thanks a lot, Deb. Now I totally have to make this today! And Anna is continuing to kill it in the Cuteness Olympics :)
“Finally, the chocolate will melt and firm up but…” But what? Inquiring minds want to know :)
Deb – You’re killing my diet lately, but I love you anyway. The first thought I had when I saw the pic of this brittle was that I must make it with dark chocolate. Looks so yummy! Need a new photo of your cute little squishy baby though.
Jane — Whoops. Nix that. I was going to say something along the lines of “Finally, the chocolate will firm once cool, but chocolate that hasn’t been tempered never gets dry-to-the-touch crisp unless cold. If this bothers you, you can sprinkle the melted chocolate after you spread it with crushed pretzels or chopped peanuts.” However, mine at warm room temperature in a jar overnight are firm and unsticky on top, so this may not be a big issue here.
I should have known I missed the link – those cheeks, that hair!! How do you not nibble her to pieces every day? Beautiful!
This is one of my dad’s favorite treats during the holidays! We’ll have to give this a try and make it for him this year!
I admit to being an even worse kind of parent, one who sometimes ate the candy out of my kids’ bags and blamed it on the dog. (Also, your daughter looks just like you!)
Oh yum I love brittle this is a great twist!! ill have to try it asap!
Hi Deb, yay for an SK facelift (at least for emails!) I’m a religious follower of your website though I’ve never subscribed to the email feed before, and I’m wondering whether the email subscription will be along the same lines as the seasonal recommendations and new recipes you regularly post to Instagram, just all in one place, or if it will provide a different angle. Thanks!
Nice that this can be adapted…maybe with almonds and milk chocolate? Yum. I guess the chocolate chips have enough residual heat to melt, but if not, you could put another baking sheet, inverted, over the top to keep the heat in. Then they would melt for sure (for instance if the kitchen is cold). I love home made candy and very few people seem to make it anymore. Thanks for the recipe.
This is always a difficult time of the year for diabetics – from now until after Christmas. I think just seeing this recipe might bring my blood glucose to critical mass, but I’m so tempted to make it! If only my husband cared about sweets I could make him eat half of it. Maybe my bridge club… Anyway, my favorite technique for breaking up Crack Candy (another deadly obsession) is to put the handle of my long wooden spoon underneath and press down on both sides. That breaks it into manageable pieces so that you can then break the big pieces into smaller ones.
My amazing aunt who lives in Detroit went to Canada and bought us our Cabbage Patch Dolls. Mine was Daphne Glorianne. Who did you have? (And, man, Garbage Pail Kids are the best. Drippy Debbie?)
I was afraid of the Garbage Pail Kids too! Well, creepedgrossed out, I guess is more accurate. I definitely didn’t like them.
But THIS. This I am going to like. Pretzels? Peanuts? Salt? Brittle? Basically everything delicious.
Well, yah, eight-year-old-build-ups Are hard to nail, even when they include potato chips and cereal!!:):) Aces here indeed. (And I’m having candy for breakfast as we speak. No need to alert the press.)
Anna looks so cute, Deb! I have 9 month twin girls and they have the exact same expression.
The brittle sounds delicious too :-)
This looks great :) I’m assuming you could use almonds or cashews here instead of the peanuts (I’m allergic), but would recommend chopping them first to be around the same size as peanuts? Thanks!
Sarah M — The facelift hasn’t even started yet! (It’s true, the redesign we began nearly two years ago might be done soon maybe!) The newsletter will be something of a round-up of the SK universe. It will highlight the newest recipes, a few featured/in season things from the archives and the best of 1, 2, 3, etc. years ago that week, i.e. there will be some overlap with what we’ve shared on social media the week before. But, it’s also a chance to get caught up on anything you’ve missed, all neatly in one place.
Rebecca — No need to chop unless you like smaller pieces. Brittle is usually made with whole or chopped nuts, just different textures/looks.
I will take this over fancy brittle any day!
Thank you so much for doing all the hard work of testing recipes so we don’t have to suffer sub-par brittle. And I know you made it slightly in honor of Halloween, but I’m already thinking of gifting pretzel brittle in December.
OK you have to stop! You are killing me, maybe literally with all of these desserts that involve caramel and salt together, my total weakness. I was going to buy ingredients for the rice kripies squares from yesterday plus the popcorn from last week and now this. I can’t take it anymore and my pilates instructor really doesn’t like you ☺ It’s very difficult to build long lean muscle whilst stuffing your face with so many amazing indulgences!!
That looks delicious – I will absolutely be making it for Christmas. I think there’s a little typo though – where you talk about lecturing your kids. Currently it reads that they can’t have candy or breakfast. More entertaining that way, I must admit!
I didn’t like the GPKs either – they were creepy, and I think I felt like it was an assault on the friendliness of the Cabbage Patch Kids. I’m interested to go back and revisit them now, thirty years later, and see if I “get” them better. Also, I’ve gotta make this brittle. Beautiful. I’m thinking almonds.
I LOVE your recipes, but I can’t see the photos on a lot of these posts. Did something change?
Pretzels in a brittle is a great idea! FWIW…I use a recipe for a nut brittle that has you heat the nuts in the oven on a foil lined sheet to the same temp as the brittle base while you’re cooking the base. You then can lift the foil and funnel the nuts into the base mixture when it’s ready. It seems to buy you time to spread the mixture on the cookie sheet without cooling down the base mixture so it allows it to spread more easily.
Last week I dug out my Garbage Pail Kids to show my kids. Ha! Potty Scotty never gets old.
Hi Deb, I used maple syrup, followed recipe exactly otherwise. Mine never hardened up. Was a powder-like, crumbly mess. Very sad. Was it the maple? I don’t have corn syrup to try again.
Does anyone understand how you can swap up to 1/2 cup of beer for 1/4 cup of water? Other places I’ve seen it be 1:1. Thanks!
This looks great! My grandma had a great peanut brittle recipe, which she eventually adapted to make in the microwave once it got harder for her to move around (tasted exactly the same, just less work). This recipe is similar; I’ll have to try it in the microwave.
So, could you please talk about candy thermometers? Whenever I see a recipe that calls for one, I immediately pass it by. But I want to not be intimidated. I want to make this recipe – fearlessly, no less. Please demystify this tool and its’ use for me (and maybe others?) Thanks
So excited to make this! I have to tell you, I’ve dreamed of candy making all my life. Blame it on one side of the family being from the midwest and extremely skilled in that department. I even have my grandmother’s candy book that she received as an award in home ec class. I never got to meet her, but have tried many a recipe. But I’ve never had any success with candy recipes except yours. Thanks for always having such clear and detailed instructions that leave so little up to the imagination. I moved to 7,000 feet elevation a few years ago and still, with some adjustments to the temperatures based on handy-dandy internet instructions, am making tasty candies for the holidays from your recipes. This will definitely be on the list this year, along with apple cider caramels, coffee toffee, and marshmallows. I had some cardamom marshmallows recently and might give that a try…
Oh my gosh, I loved Garbage Pail Kids! But I also loved Cabbage Patch Kids, so I was a little conflicted. :) But I loved (and still love) anything 80s. This brittle looks so amazing. I’ve never made brittle before and this looks like a great place to start!
So Deb, do you realize that if you have candy at breakfast time (with some other slightly more nutritionally dense items) you can rationalize eating more of it because you have all day to burn it off? Whereas indulging in an unsatisfying amount after supper just counts as complete empty calories. That’s my theory anyway. I think pistachios would make this really pretty when I try it.
As a southern hemispherian, I’m wondering if the newletter might contain links to recipes in season on the other side of the world too? I loved the introduction of that feature on here! My baby daughter is sadly allergic to nuts but I clicked through to the pepita link so will definitely try those when she’s older as well as maybe the above with roasted, salted pepitas in place of the peanuts? Still sounds delicious!
These look so delicious and great for presents! Deb, do you think they would survive being shipped around the country? Perhaps in an airtight jar or container?
Deb W… Don’t be afraid of a candy thermometer!! I actually use a $12 Taylor Waterproof thermometer and not a candy one, per se. Most candy thermometers attach to the side of the pan which I find to be rather clumsy and annoying and that’s why I use the small hand held Taylor. But then I use my Taylor for a variety of applications other than heating a sugar mixture. Bringing sugar, water and corn syrup to high temperatures takes some time so don’t worry that you’ll over cook your mixture. If you use a non-attachable thermometer be sure not to let the tip of your thermometer touch the bottom or sides of the pan or you won’t get a true reading. Another reason I use my Taylor is so I can take the temperature in several spots to ensure my mixture is heating evenly. Once I get close to the desired temperature I leave the thermometer in the mixture until it’s done. The most important thing when dealing with this sort of recipe is to NOT STIR the first time you bring the mixture to temperature. So embrace the thermometer and make some brittle! And then you can make caramel, fondant, toffee and a whole host of yummy items!
Does anyone have any idea whether coconut oil could be used in place of butter? With dark chocolate, and gluten free pretzels, this could be a good treat for someone who needs dairy-free, gluten-free food.
I, too, was kind of disturbed by Garbage Pail Kids when they were new. Sadly, I just didn’t get it.
This reminds me of Momofuku Milk Bar’s compost cookies, which are an awesome entry into the compost/garbage pail/kitchen sink genre. They do put potato chips to good use. But I’m glad to know they don’t wow in brittle, because I was so getting blown away by that thought–so much sweet and salty and crunchy goodness seemed too good to be true.
I’d be tempted to try replacing the water with coffee if I were giving this to grown ups, just because I love coffee with toffee/brittle type things.
My nine-month pregnant self is going to put on pants (tights are pants, right?) and grab the stuff to make this. Right. Now.
I was eyeing a chocolate bar yesterday that was pretzels and peanuts and I almost bought it, but it lacked dark chocolate. I was thinking I’d have to make a bar it’s the same flavor seen you come up with this! I’m making it today and I’ll report back on the beer inclusion.
You mention using beer instead of the water – I wonder, could you use whiskey or bourbon for some (probably not all) of the water? Or would the higher alcohol content mess up the chemistry?
Add crushed Oreos?
Seriously, I’m doomed if I ever actually cook this.
That looks heavenly, what a great combination!
If you still want to incorporate potato chips, you could smash them up and sprinkle then over the melted chocolate, like sea salt…
You are a sheer genius. These are absolutely gross/beautiful/yummy in a way that a childlike mind could conjure up. I love the idea. This is going to have to be a must do for the grandsons — they’ll love it!!!!!
Love, love, LOVE brittle. As JMS said above, I also do a peanut brittle recipe in the microwave. So much easier (but you tend to make a lot more, and eat a lot more!) About the potato chips, is it that they get a bit soggy? I wonder if kettle chips would be better. Those things tend to stay rock hard the whole way through.
I think there must be a typo in the beer to water swap!
In regards to the Garbage Pail Kids you may want to revisit the OZ books, I think Baum wrote thirty one of them. As an example, in the land of the Flatheads, the high status in their culture was who could out the most canned brains on top of their head…
Brittle looks elegant and wonderful. I think I will be making it in my Airstream. BTW, I know NYC kitchens are tiny, but try cooking in an Airstream someday….just saying…..
Changed my website…
Apologies for leaving two things vague — The beer to water swap needn’t be 1:1! I suggested the higher amount if you wish for a more notable beer flavor; there won’t be much with 1/4 cup. All liquid cooks off before the candy becomes caramel (it may take longer than the 9 minutes, of course, if you’re using 1/2 cup instead of 1/4 cup, but not by much).
Chocolate chip range — Sure you could just use 1 cup either way, but I mostly found I only needed 3/4 cup to “cover” the size to which I’d stretched the brittle.
Using bourbon instead of beer — I have not fiddled with this at all. I suspect it should be fine; perhaps I wouldn’t use 1/4 cup thought, maybe just a 1 to 2 T swap against the 1/4 cup water.
Using coconut oil instead of butter — I haven’t done this, but it should work just fine, I’d imagine.
Jenna — I’m (eesh) so sorry, but not at this time. I’d love to do a specific Southern Hemisphere newsletter in the future, but right now, this is still 95% a one-person operation (writing, editing, social media-ing, book-ing, comment-responding :) ) with some help on the side with newsletter assembly and publicity. If I can get the newsletter ad-supported, it will definitely pave the way towards hiring a person that can do more with it.
Deb — I’m a great fan of thermometers, candy and other. There’s nothing scary about them, they simply let you know when the time is “right” reliably. Candy is never burnt or under-candied, meat is never over- or under-cooked. It makes life easier, not harder.
Jill — That’s not good. I hadn’t expected the maple to be an issue but I wasn’t totally sure. I almost wonder if it might have been undercooked a little. I will have to do more research when I’m done with all of the Halloween madness today.
Sara — The photos should be working! Sometimes rebooting your browser can help.
This looks amazing! But more importantly garbage pail kids were terrifying! I think in my head they were something that could happen to my cabbage patch kids in a gremlin-esque manner. Which was horrifying. I’m so glad someone else was scared of them while all their friends thought they were cool!
She looks like she is talking to you in the picture..
Mine turned 23 yesterday..your pictures remind me of what a wonderous time it was and how fast it goes..
She is off to Italy for a year next month to study..opera
You have been busy..your posts have been frequent
Have you ever looked at ottolenghi cook books?!
I got hooked over the summer months..his salads are so different and very good..
Not just that..many other recipes
Oh yeah and yum to the pretzel-peanuts
I made my usual “crack” (the cracker one) and gave it out to my various customers
Deb, you are killing me! This would last long enough at my house to put into a container.
Deb, you are killing me! This would never last to be put into a container at our house.
Pretty proud of myself for finally making an SK recipe the day it comes out! This one was good, and remarkably quick and easy, but I did feel like it was lacking oomph in the flavor department. I’m wondering if perhaps my brittle didn’t caramelize enough. Otherwise, any ideas to amp this up a bit? I added extra fleur de sel in an effort to preempt that but it wasn’t enough.
Going to make this for Xmas! Thanks!
I grew up poh, which is like poor only worse and more ghetto, so my mom couldn’t afford to get me a Cabbage Patch Kid – they’re my first memory of actually feeling ‘different’ because we had no money. Accordingly, Garbage Pail Kids were my first memory of schadenfreude. Good times.
Also, the brittle looks delicious and I will be making it soon.
Hi Deb, I just made this and it is really nice. Is it ok to double the recipe without upsetting the Mojo? I’m never sure with candy/brittle how much this matters. I made the recipe for a birthday gift for tomorrow and it didn’t make as much as I had thought/hoped – the choice is to be a good friend and give it all away or downsize the gift box :-). If it can doubled, then next time problem solved! Btw – I used salted cashews as the can of peanuts I thought we had seems to have disappeared. It worked really well. Thanks!
What on earth were you thinking? What was I thinking when I stopped at the store last night to buy pretzels to make this? That it would be a fun treat to take to friends, us what I thought. I did NOT think that it would become breakfast. But it did.
well that took me about 20 seconds to decide to make. i DID use honey instead of corn syrup and decided to sprinkle flaky sea salt on the top (as I used dark chocolate and unsalted peanuts – i thought it only fair). Now how long do i have to wait until I get to take it out of the freezer???
WHEE NEWSLETTER!!! this will make my entire week.
Excited about the newsletter and the Garbage Pail Kids scared me too, specifically the one with the girl whose toothbrush went clean through her cheek.
Sooooo many truths here!
Just made Molly’s buckeye pie last weekend: http://www.remedialeating.com/2015/04/brought-to-you-by-the-color-brown.html
Same combo, different arrangement, I’m sure just as delicious!
Deb! I can always count on you for a great laugh. Love these garbage pail brittles! I was a fan of Cabbage Patch Kids too so the thought of Garbage Pail Kids are kinda scary…I agree.
I was hoping to find out what I may have done wrong but, unfortunately, there weren’t many comments from people who actually made the brittle. I’m new at it, and my pot full of good stuff seized up before I was able to pour it into the sheet pan. Using a silicon spatula, I quickly tried to scrape it onto the pan, but it was already a white lumpy mess. SO disappointed. What do you think happened? I’d like to try it again sometime.
Can that spell caster above me magic this into my kitchen? That’s the most interesting spambot I’ve ever seen, I’ll give it that.
This comment stream has morphed into pretty weird stuff. Was it something they ate? :D I’m outta here.
LOVE the newsletter! It is beautiful, informative and helps with the eternal “what to make” question.
Hi Deb! I have opted in for the newsletter but really don’t want to get the other one recipe version as well. Is there an option where I can opt out of the previous weekly updates and receive only the newsletter?
OMG looks scarily delicious.
Holy cow. I will definitely make this. I believe in candy for breakfast (my daughter is eating some right now – she just got up!). Thank you!!
Looks and sounds like salty-sweet heaven! I love chocolate covered pretzels, so can only image how tasty this stuff is.
However, I wanted to offer up some caution: when placing an acidic ingredient (beer!) into cooking sugar solutions, you will get inversion of the sucrose molecule. This will lead to wonky boiling points (i.e. you may have altered the temperature at which you get hard-crack), as well as a final confection that absorbs moisture from the atmosphere more readily due to increased fructose content from the inverted sucrose. Same can be said for using maple syrup, honey or agave in place of corn syrup…but like you said, the quantity is pretty small, so would probably be fine. Since toffee is already sugar glass, the propensity of it picking up moisture (which is precluded by covering it in chocolate, mmm) is already high.
Just wanted to save any crazy caramel/toffee making adventures…they are hot, sticky and unfortunately, not always fun!
They looked evil. Like Chucky. Amiright?
Looks delicious! Will definitely try this and maybe make a lot to give away this Christmas.
Lynn, I think this will work with coconut oil, though can’t be sure.
I made Matzah Crack with coconut oil last year and learned that it needed to be made more like this toffee/brittle instead of added like butter to the brown-sugar caramel.
I’d start with half as much and sort of knead it in with a spoon. Then keep adding up to the full two tablespoons if it seems to accept more oil. (We actually liked it better than the butter-filled caramel–it hardened like toffee.)
Deb – what’s going on with your Instagram account? Did you delete it?
ahh your instagram has been hacked! :(
Ditto MariaS and AmyN – where’s your Instagram account gone?? Bring back debperelman!
Oh my, this looks incredible, Deb! This might as well be called chocolate peanut and pretzel crack! <3
I am so so sad to see that your Instagram account has been hacked by someone calling themself: vividhumor or humorvivid… it has been changing back and forth! I have reported them and I am trying to get others to do the same, under the hashtag #savesmittenkitchen. I wanted your blessing to do this though, so I am hoping you will see this and confirm that this is something you are ok with! I don’t have a lot of followers on IG, but I do know a lot of your followers are upset that this has happened. I have been following your blog for so many years and I would hate to see this hacker get away with this. I am so sorry it’s happened!
We are here for you!
@ashleybrookevilla on IG.
Common Halloween treat at my in-laws house is candy corn mixed in a bowl with salted peanuts. Given that, I know that they will love this brittle. It will be a new addition to my Christmas cookie and candy spread.
I have been reading your blog and since you were pregnant with Jacob. I love your recipes, but my son has a peanut allergy so I wasn’t even going to click over to this one until I saw the comment on Garbage Pail Kids. Totally Brilliant, right? Now that I am here these look amazing and I bet the pretzel would be a great substitute, so I am glad I came :)
Hey. I am admittedly a candy novice, and I had the same trouble as some others have mentioned. About the time I put in the baking soda and started stirring in peanuts and pretzels, it turned to dust, rather than gooeyness to spread in the pan. I also used maple syrup, and I heated to 302.5. The dust is pretty tasty, though. For the record.
I was “Leaky Lindsay” for years. *sniff* This will help me get over it. 20 years later.
*Heavy breathing* I can’t handle how good this looks.
Lynne — This can be doubled with no problem. Either pour it out over two smaller baking sheets (estimate about a 9×13 for each batch) or 1 giant one.
Instagram — Yesss, both my @debperelman and @smittenkitchen were hacked earlier this week. It STINKS. Fortunately, I was pretty lucky to have a few people making a lot of noise over there (SIL that works at FB, old blogging friend at IG plus a contact from my publishing house helping out) and we got the accounts back yesterday afternoon. Hooray! Except, we lost all of the archived photos, particularly devastating as @debperelman was more of a day-to-day life journal I was very attached to and didn’t save any of the originals. Time to start fresh with new places to go! I hope you’ll follow along again, and if you didn’t before, what a perfect time to start.
Alexandra — Does your current Feedblitz (old system) email have an unsubscribe link at the bottom? Some, but not all, do. If not, feel free to give me a holler thesmitten/gmail and I’ll make sure you’re removed from the list.
Spellcasters — SERIOUSLY, I’ve been getting this insane spellcaster spam for the last 9 months. I always delete it, but with life these days, am sometimes a day or two behind on comments and you get to see them too.
I have a question about the Spinach Cheese Strata. I need to make it for 12 people. Should I make 2 or put it in one big dish? If the latter, how long should I bake it/
Love your recipes.
Hi Deb! How long can I expect this to keep – will the pretzels soften? Just planning some gift-giving :) and want to make sure I can make it, ship it, and get it there without any trouble. Thanks!
I made this over the weekend and it was really easy. I used light corn syrup and a thermometer to make sure the temperature was right so didn’t have some of the other problems people have mentioned. It was a little on the bland side (even put flaky sea salt on top) so might add more salt to the caramel as it’s cooking. Didn’t stop people from devouring it though.
Ellen — My pretzels never softened because the candy is hard.
Margaret — Either would work. It already uses a big dish, not sure what size you’d need to comfortably double it.
Brittle crumbling! — It looks like I started to respond last time and became distracted. (Typical.) I think? The maple syrup might be a bad idea, only because the two people who mentioned crumbling both said they used maple syrup. I’m sorry if I led you astray, it was my hunch it would work but I’ve usually only used corn or golden syrup. I’ll update the recipe accordingly.
Those Instagram issues — Yes, both accounts were hacked and it definitely sucked and I’m really lucky that I have an old blogging friend that works at IG and a SIL at FB that worked really hard to get my accounts back to me. Unfortunately, the archives were lost. But, we’re just going to have to cook and do a lot more fun stuff to fill those pages up again.
deb, i am a sensitive child (adult) who remembers garbage pail kids and was totally freaked out by them, too. i collected cabbage patch (easily had over a dozen – my aunt did too and sewed clothes including fur coats for mine, haha!) and i treated them like real babies. i was never without a real diaper bag, true story. as a result GPK were scary and i wished i could unsee them. i also remember my mom renting “problem child” for me because Kids My Age loved it, and i was bawling my eyes out and begging my mom to shut it off within the first ten minutes because how could a kid be so mean and rotten?
anyway, garbage pail kids are alive and well – they just came out with a line of figurines! :)
also i thought the IG issue was just me – i’m glad it’s fixed but sorry to hear it was a total ordeal! like you, i don’t save many of my IG photos elsewhere. i guess i should start. yikes.
Made this for my son’s bar mitzvah. It turned out really well! So I made another batch, only doubled the recipe! Love it!
I made this brittle yesterday. Living at 7500ft I took the sugar/syrup/water mix off the heat at 14degrees less than the 300-305degree called for. It came out fine BUT I guess I was expecting more of a caramel flavor from the the candy portion of the brittle. Suggestions for next time to achieve the caramel flavor would be welcome. My dream was that they would taste very close to a TAKE5 only better because it was homemade.
I just made this today using a (clean) meat thermometer which I taped to the pan with electrical tape and it worked fine! Except I got impatient and turned it up toward the end and it went to 315 before I knew it. Also I panicked and didn’t measure the pretzels so I ended up with a really stiff, 3/4-inch thick brittle barely held together by sugar. But still ahhh-mazing. Not too sweet with the bittersweet chocolate, which is nice for me. Going to send it to my friend in California for Thanksgiving. Thanks, Deb!
Any tips for washing the pot afterwards? Yummy brittle, but the pot is a disaster zone :(
clean up — I just fill it with hot water and let it sit a little. Water dissolves sugar; I’ve never had trouble cleaning up. (And I haaaate cleaning up.)
Some feedback- made the brittle a few days ago. used whole mini pretzel twists. I do not have a candy thermometer so just mixed the ingredients, set the timer for 9 minutes and turned the flame to medium high. Candy mixture looked like it was about to burn right before the timer beeped so turned it off then. Used margarine instead of butter (to keep things parve) and mistakenly put it 1 T. instead of 2. Caramel/pretzel/peanut mixture was hard to spread, partially because there was only 1 T. of margarine and mostly because I used whole pretzels. Sprinkled sea salt on top of the melted chocholate. Brittle was absolutely delicious/addictive, but ugly.
Yesterday, my aunt called me that my grandmother’s 65th birthday was this week, they were making a dinner party for her, and could I bring dessert. After some thought, decided to take a store bought graham cracker pie crust, fill it with store bought ice cream, top with melted chocholate/peanut butter and crushed brittle. Store bought caramel sauce drizzled underneath each slice, with two pieces of brittle on the side.
So I made another batch last night. This time, I coarsely chopped the pretzels, the caramel looked like it would burn in another second after 8.5 minutes so turned the flame off then and added the extra T. of margarine. Brittle spread beautifully! Melted 4 oz baking chocholate in the microwave and spread it on top- much much easier than the choc chips (although the smoother surface definitely helped too).
Still have the ice cream pies to make tonight and really, really hoping they’ll work out. Thanks for the recipe Deb!
If anyone has any tips on how to stop eating this, I could urgently use the help. I love pretzels, roasted salted peanuts and dark chocolate on their own but together they are way more than the sum of their parts.
For the record, I did have some trouble with this recipe too. Though I used golden syrup, I had the same problem as a couple of the maple syrup commenters – it turned into a lump almost before I could ‘pour’ it out of the pan, with a slightly chalky, dusty texture. I persisted and managed to spread it unevenly, and topped with the chocolate and did all else – it tastes pretty damn amazing even though I get the sense the texture should be slightly different from how mine turned out.
I’m sure I’ll fix whatever was off in my next attempt but not sure why it happened. Didn’t have a candy thermometer so eyeballed it on the candy-cooking time front, which is where I imagine I went wrong.
But incredibly delicious outcome, nonetheless.
Soooo… I JUST drew the parallel between garbage pail kids and cabbage patch kids. You just opened my brain. Like when you have been singing a song wrong your whole like and then you learn what the actual words are… kinda like that. I feel a little shocked, a little relieved, and a little dumb. I was ten in 1985. I just thought garbage pail kids were freaky and gross….while I was obsessing over my cabbage patch dolls. Amazing that I never ever until this moment saw the correlation. Thank you. I can appreciate the parody now.
The grainy, crumbly consistency some are complaining of is a result of your brittle crystallising. I just made this for the second time, and it was perfect the first time but crystallised today when I don’t think I was as careful.
Crystallisation happens when sugar crystals remain in your syrup and set off a chain reaction or it gets too hot or it’s a humid day or you take too long to mix and pour. The corn syrup/golden syrup both help prevent crystallisation but maple syrup contributes to it because it is a super-saturated sugar solution, prone to crystallisation. To prevent this stir the syrup until all the sugar has dissolved but don’t let it boil. Then brush down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in hot water to remove all the crystals splashed on the sides, and rinse your spatula/spoon. Then don’t stir again until adding butter which also helps prevent crystallisation. Hope this helps some of you!
Also anoth per tip I read is that you can preheat your baking sheet to 200F so that it is easier to spread the brittle as it will set more slowly.
I was thinking I might try this with those flat pretzels that are like crackers. Do you think there would be any issues doing that?
Would this store well in the freezer, along with the rest of my holiday cookies? Thanks!
I was wondering, do you have a preference on golden vs corn syrup for brittle? Or does the difference not really come through with everything else going on?
Matt — Either work. Theoretically, golden syrup tastes better but there’s too much going on here and too little syrup for it to be immensely noticeable so if you have no quibbles with corn syrup, no reason to pay more for or run around hunting down golden.
Well, I had high hopes but sadly, I lack the technique to pull off a candy recipe with such a small margin of error. The first time I made it, I dumped all of the ingredients – butter, solids, and baking soda – into the bubbling syrup and it immediately seized up and was impossible to spread thinly. By the time I got it into some control, it was too cool to melt the chocolate. So, genius here decided to put it in the oven for a smidge, and burned it. The second time, I added the butter when it was about 296 degrees and then the solids, and then the baking soda, but it clumped again and didn’t really spread out. I think I will just remember the flavor combination and use a recipe that is more forgiving (my mother-in-law’s peanut brittle uses 1 c. each sugar and corn syrup and pours like a dream). Thank you for the idea, Deb!
This has been on my mind since you posted and I finally got around to making today. WOW!! SO GOOD…the flavor combination is over the top. Spreading the cooked candy did present a challenge so my brittle is pretty thick, not that I personally have a problem with that. Like the last commenter, I think I will try my peanut brittle recipe and substitute pretzels for the peanuts.
Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Deb — I just made this and although it is definitely delicious and addictive, I found myself wanting more of a caramel flavor to the toffee. I took it off the heat at 305 and there was one spot in the mixture that had turned a caramel color — the rest was still sugar white. If I had left it on one more minute would I get a more caramel flavor? Thanks so much!
Hi Deb! Have you tried cereal toffee? It’s a cup of butter, a cup of sugar (cooked until it gets all caramelized and thick) and then 2 1/2 cups of Kix cereal mixed in. Sometimes I throw a little dark chocolate on top. It’s super simple, but the family threatens to riot if I don’t make it – including last year when I was hugely pregnant and exhausted.
Hi Deb, question about measurements, are you breaking up pretzel bits and then measuring them in a 3/4 cup? I did it by weight (actually used less then 3/4 cup closer to 1/2 cup or 2 oz) and between that and the peanuts my brittle was definitely overstuffed. It reminded me of rice crispy treats when you’ve barely got enough marshmallow to hold them together. It looks like an ungodly mess and I had to pat it into a cohesive mass. It cooled really quickly so I threw it into a warm oven to finish softening the chocolate chips. It’s in the freezer now and hopefully I can break it into gnawable, giftable chunks because the nibble I had was delicious!
Deb, what a terrific treat! My Mom and I just made three batches! They came together very easily and the end result was totally consistent. What I loved, particularly, about this recipe is that it’s something you could throw together with very little effort and time, as a quick hostess gift or when you’re asked last minute to bring along something sweet to a party.
Deb! I just tried to make this, but the sugar turned a dark caramel even before soft ball stage, and was fully burned by 300. I used brown rice syrup because I had just used it to make the marshmallows yesterday and it worked just fine. Could that be it? Or try again but go for medium heat instead of medium high? I can’t seem to ever trust my thermometer either… I thought it was done before it hit 300. Any tips would help! Thanks!!
I made the brittle and cooked the syrup with a candy thermometer until it reached 300. I had the same issue as the Miyo comment: mine was very dark brown at the 300 stage — tastes smoky when set. Looked nothing like your photo of the syrup spread out which is a golden color. Any suggestions?
I had the same problem as Trish and Miyo — dark brown at 300, tastes lightly burnt, didn’t spread. Any thoughts?
I used golden syrup and the mixture was dark brown and burned at 300. :(
looks yummy, thanks deb you make me got idea, I wanna try make it use cashew, because my son like cashew… hug hug
Oh! I came to the website, as I typically do, looking to see what delicious recipes I should shop for this weekend.
I didn’t know that I would get bonus therapy for my life long disturbance at garbage pail kids! I can still tell you the name of the little boy in my 1st grade class who brought his garbage pail kid cards for show and tell. To be sure, somewhere in the last 30 years I’ve learned to appreciate parody, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever gotten over that original horror. I felt personally attacked, confident that he was trying to suggest that my favorite dolls were gross and dirty like the pictures on his cards. I tried to tell my mom about how awful it was afterwards, and she was baffled by my upset. I do still think about this episode from time to time, and I’m delighted to know that there are others who also remember and think about this little cultural phenomenon–with humor and horror alike!
All right. Now for meal choosing. Deb’s date/feta/red cabbage salad has won me over, and I’ll make cinnamon rolls tomorrow ’cause it’s Sunday, and…
I’ve made this twice, using golden syrup, with good success. The first time it was a little hard to spread, so the second time I heated up the tray in the oven and that made it much easier. For those whose toffee burnt, sounds like you’re heating it too quickly. I always use a heavy bottomed saucepan when making candy – a thin based pan will burn it every time.
You can modify the recipe by using raw Spanish peanuts (high oil content) and add 1/4tsp salt to your sugar mixture. You’ll want to add the peanuts at 250°F and the sugar candy will pick up some of the peanut flavor, and the peanuts will roast in the sugar. Divine.
Finally got a chance to make this and knew without a doubt it would be fabulous! Has anyone ever tried any variations? Wondering about adding cayenne pepper or apricots.
I would avoid dried fruit; the moisture becomes a problem in storage. Cayenne, absolutely, other nuts or seeds too.
To accommodate my allergies, I used gluten free pretzels and cashews, which were fabulous. When making peanut brittle, my mom always put her cookie sheet in a warm oven until she poured the syrup, in order to get it as thin as possible. That trick worked especially well with this recipe.
When I made it last year for Thanksgiving it was delicious but way too thick, and I wondered how I would work even faster to get it thinner. Thanks for this tip!
I often have trouble with chocolate turning white after a while when it’s not tempered. I also prefer a chocolate coating to be fully hardened and not tacky when at room temp. I use high quality candy melts (like Ghirardelli) to avoid this. Would it be possible to use candy melts in the same method (chopping them up and letting them melt onto the brittle mixture)?
I’m going to make these for xmas gifts and am wondering about how much this recipe makes?
I’m literally doing the same thing right now. One batch made a little less than half my sheet pan. I doubled it for the second batch and it made almost a whole sheet pan. Trying to figure out now how to get these delivered without the chocolate melting. Tastes delicious!
Thanks! Did the chocolate set up ok once completely cooled?
Clearly the nine minute guideline didn’t work for me, because my brittle is a gooey mess! Any way to salvage it/dry it out? I tried putting it in a 200 deg oven for a bit, cooling and refreezing to no avail.
I loved this recipe!! It was my first time making brittle and it was so easy to make, relatively fast, and the instructions were easy to follow. It’s also DELICIOUS.
The only change we made was to replace a few of the chocolate chips in the some 85% dark chocolate. This made for a fun swirl affect on top, and a little bit darker chocolate flavor. But we wish there was more pretzels and peanuts. Next time we make it, I think we will sprinkle some on top of the chocolate. In the meantime, we put extra pretzels in the containers we gifted to grandma and grandpa, and friends. Great recipe. It was my 13-year-old’s first time making brittle and it went well.
Deb, I wonder if you’d be willing to add a new category, GIFTS, to your wonderful “Recipes” page? This would be an obvious one to include, but I know you have lots, and your legions of fans are almost certainly the generous sort of people who like to share the bounty of their culinary efforts. Thanks for your website–I use it almost daily!
Yes — I love that you noticed it too! I just realized this week. I’ll get it built in another day or two. Thank you. :)
Hi there! Just curious if it’s supposed to be snappy brittle? It shattered when I broke it but it’s kinda chewy to eat. Is this normal? I used honey.
It should be snappy with a little tenderness, but not chewy.
Deb, do you think this would work with vegan butter? I’d like to make it vegan if possible. It’s so close!
I haven’t test it with vegan butter but this comment shares how it went with margarine, if that helps.
Substitute Guinness stout for the water.
Would this keep well in the freezer? Nice to have some on hand like I do with saltine candy – great hostess gift! Looking forward to trying it out this holiday season – thanks!
This is delicious and mostly easy to make. I did struggle with getting it spread out the first time I made it. The second time I mixed the baking soda, pretzels and peanuts ahead of time so I only had to dump and stir one pot of add ins. The butter took forever to melt and the brittle started thickening up even while it was melting. Can I pre-melt the butter for this? I tried warming the pan as someone suggested but it didn’t seem to have much of an impact. I then tried using wax paper to flatten it which works but then that sticks to the mixture (DO NOT DO THIS). Next time I will try foil. Still delicious, and a little wax paper is probably ok to eat. I hope.