Deb Brasier, bi-state news editor for the Quad-City Times and Argus-Dispatch, began making peanut brittle as her special Christmas treat because, as she says, "I hate making cookies."
Her recipe came from her sister, Diana Bloomberg, who got it at a church cookie exchange where both recipes and treats were shared.
Deb has modified the recipe through the years, adding almost twice as many peanuts as the original recipe called for because "people seem to like it more with more peanuts."
And one year she misread the directions and, ever since, she's also added more butter.
The key to success is to boil the mixture to exactly the right temperature using a candy thermometer. Once the final boil reaches 300 degrees, just pour the mixture out onto greased jelly roll sheets and let cool, generally overnight.
Then, crack pieces apart with your hands and store in a tightly covered container so that the brittle doesn't pick up moisture. (If it does, it won't be brittle any more.)
Deb's never had any failures, per se, although there was one batch she had to throw away. That was because just as she poured the candy onto the pans, her young feline, Al E. Cat, jumped up onto the table and ran across one pan and its 300-degree contents.
Sure that his paws were blistered, Deb grabbed him off the table, but he appeared to be "no worse for the wear." Nonplussed, in a cat kind of way, he simply walked off.
Following is her recipe, with the modifications she has made.
Deb's Peanut Brittle
2 cups sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups raw peanuts
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir together the sugar, white corn syrup and water in a 4½-quart saucepan over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Cover and boil gently for 5 minutes. Uncover, and put in candy thermometer. Continue cooking without stirring until the temperature reaches 234 degrees.
Mix in the butter and peanuts.
Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 300.
Remove from heat and remove thermometer. Add the baking soda and vanilla, stir until mixture foams, then pour into two buttered jelly roll pans, about 17¼ inches by 11½ inches.
Crack when cool and store in tightly covered container.