Learn How To Make Peanut Brittle with Beer:
Stop and think about what flavors go well together. A hoppy, citrusy American India Pale Ale with salted peanuts, found in a bowl, on your favorite bar top. This Hophead IPA Beer Peanut Brittle takes that idea and recreates it into candy form.
Making your own Beer Brittle is pretty easy. Understanding how to make brittle is the key. As I suggest with all my recipes, starting with the best quality ingredients will make your Hophead IPA Beer Peanut Brittle better. With only five ingredients in this Beer Brittle recipe, each one plays an important role in making your candy superior in flavor, texture, and snap.
Butter is a major element in brittle. A high quality, high butterfat version will prove superior in taste testing. When butter is labeled “European Style” it is referring to a higher fat content in the butter. Usually, the European Style butter has also been cultured, giving the final butter more tang, or pop of flavor through fermentation. Why is this important in candy making? For butter to be called butter in the USA, it has to be at least 80% butterfat, with the remaining 20% a combination of milk solids and water. For butter to be labeled European Style, that butterfat content is increased to 82-86%, resulting in less water in the final butter. This is one of the reasons why European croissants and other baked goods are better in Europe. That higher percentage of butterfat makes a difference in cooking | baking | candy making. I also recommend using unsalted butter variety. Salt was added to butter to help preserve it, back in the day, before we had refrigeration. The addition of salt would help stabilize the butter, making it room temperate safe for long periods of time. Salt is critical to this recipe, yet being able to adjust the salt to taste, vs paying for salt in butter form, with ultimately not knowing how much salt is really in each brand of salted butter, making buying unsalted butter easy. I am a huge fan of Straus Family Creamery, as they produce this style of Unsalted European style Butter. Straus Family Creamery also practices many environmental procedures, that make it a zero-emission dairy. The extra richness and full flavors from their milk, butter, and cream improve the final texture in this beer candy.
Sugar is another key ingredient in candy making. Using organic sugar has a lot of plus sides besides supporting the farmers’ choice not to use pesticides in their fields. Organic sugar comes from sugar cane that is not GMO (genetically modified). The sugar has to be processed from field to sugar in 24 hours, while the sugar is not bleached either. Not bleaching the sugar, makes organic sugar a golden hue, retaining trace minerals and vitamins from the sugar cane. This also contributes to a slight caramelized vanilla flavor in the final sugar product. Do a taste test for yourself, comparing bleached processed white sugar to organic sugar and see what you like best, what tasted better.
Peanuts are a key ingredient, as this recipe is called Hophead IPA Beer Peanut Brittle, after all. Fresh peanuts make a difference. Sadly, peanuts and most nuts do not have a harvest date on their packaging. They will have a best by date | code that should be checked, making sure the peanut, technically a legume is not gone rancid. Taste your peanuts before use, making sure they are wonderful and delicious. If you or a friend | family member is allergic to peanuts, this recipe can be made with almonds, macadamia, pistachios, pecans, sunflower seeds, or other suggestions below.
There are many types of IPA that will work in this recipe. While I usually don’t suggest cooking with IPA (India pale Ale) as a rule; rules are made to be broken. As this recipe has a high percentage of sugar, this helps prevent the beer from reducing so much, that one is left with an overly bitter beer reduction. Just as in brewing, the ratio of barley malt to hops is important. When making this recipe, understanding that the extra sugar provides more than enough sweetness in the beer candy, it almost needs some bitterness to add balance to this sweet treat. As sugar caramelizes, it becomes darker and in flavor more bitter. That is what makes Peanut Brittle so good, is that sweet | bitter interplay. Adding an IPA to this combination works for that reason, plus the recipe is called Hophead IPA Beer Peanut Brittle. I would hesitate to recommend using a double or triple IPA (DIPA | TIPA) in this recipe, as the extra hop IBU’s (International Bitter Units) might be too much, causing excessive bitterness or even burning in the candy-making process.
I love the citrus-forward West Coast styles of IPA for this Beer Brittle recipe. Try Bear Republic Brewing Co. Racer 5 IPA, Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA to get an orange | tangerine undertone to the peanut brittle. 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Pale Ale are also wonderful hop-forward brews that will work in this recipe. There are tons of great IPA’s that will work in this recipe. Check out BeerAdvocate’s American IPA list for what you can get in your neighborhood.
Candy making is somewhat technical, as food science is what transforms these 5 raw ingredients into a delicious Beer Brittle. a thermometer is critical to make sure the candy is at the correct temperature. This investment, if you don’t have a good thermometer, will elevate all your cooking creations. When sugar is boiling, the water is evaporating, causing the remaining butterfat, sugar along with beer to crystallize. The temperature helps the cook understand where the brittle is and if the temperature of the stovetop needs to be adjusted or turned off completely. A silicone baking mat is also a wonderful tool to use, as there is no sticking and makes clean up super easy.
Any hophead will surely love this for a gift, a special and thoughtful treat if brought to a potluck | beer tasting | gathering, or just have it around to snack on!
Beer Brittle Making Special Equipment:
1 each Silpat Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat or other silicone baking mat
1 each Thermoworks Thermapen® Mk4
Makes: This recipe yields 2 pounds of candy. It is best not to double this recipe, as smaller batches make a better brittle.