Nothing is worse than making it through a dessert only for it not to turn out. But don’t chuck your peanut brittle just yet! Let’s look at some common candy-making issues and learn how to save peanut brittle or, at the very least, avoid those mistakes with the next batch.
How to Save Peanut Brittle
Here are a few common issues that surface when making peanut brittle, with tips and tricks for troubleshooting them. Or, in some cases, saving ruined peanut brittle.
1. The Peanut Brittle is Too Soft or Underdone
Getting peanut brittle to turn out crispy can be tricky. Soft or chewy peanut brittle is a common issue many people run into when trying to make this sweet holiday candy, and here are a few possible culprits.
|Use the Proper Equipment
|A reliable candy thermometer eliminates the guesswork in candy-making. Before use, test it by placing it 2 inches into ice water; the reading should be 32°F (0°C) after 30 seconds.
Without a thermometer, use the cold water method. Drop one teaspoon of syrup into the cold water. It will form threads that break when bent, but let the syrup cool in the water before touching it to avoid burns.
|Avoid Making Candy on Humid Days
|Humidity plays a role in how the candy sets. High humidity levels in the environment can cause sugar-based candies like peanut brittle to absorb moisture from the air, making them sticky and soft. For those in a humid climate, try making candy on a dry day or use a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity in your kitchen.
|Heat the Candy to the Right Temperature
|If your peanut brittle is soft and chewy, it may not have reached the proper temperature. Cook the mixture to the hard crack stage, reading 300°F -310°F (149°C-159°C) on a candy thermometer to get that characteristic peanut brittle crunch.
If you’re wondering how to save peanut brittle, follow my step-by-step instructions below for salvaging peanut brittle that is too soft and sticky because it didn’t reach the right temperature.
2. The Brittle has a Burnt or Bitter Flavor
If your brittle tastes burnt or bitter, the sugar likely cooked too long and caramelized too much.
Solution: Unfortunately, there is no remedy for burnt or bitter-tasting peanut brittle. However, I can offer some insight into how to avoid this common pitfall in the future. Maintain a low to medium (depending on the strength of your oven range) temperature throughout the cooking process. Additionally, take care to keep stirring the peanut brittle after it reaches 250°F (121°C) until the final cooking temperature, 300°F (149°C).
3. The Sugar in the Brittle Crystallizes
Sugar crystallization shows up as a grainy or whitish coating on the brittle.
Solution: While you cannot save crystalized brittle, you can avoid it the next time by refraining from stirring too early (until the syrup mixture reaches 250°F | 121°C). Pair the sugar with water and an inverted sugar, like corn syrup, to provide a buffer as the sugar dissolves and comes to temperature.
4. The Peanut Brittle is Hard to Break
In addition to becoming too soft, brittle can become too hard, making it difficult to break into shards.
Solution: If peanut brittle cools too quickly, it may not have enough time to set, resulting in a tough texture. Instead, cool the brittle slowly at room temperature (not in the refrigerator or freezer) before breaking it.
5. The Brittle has an Oily Finish
Brittle sometimes turn out greasy and slick rather than light and crispy.
Solution: This often means the recipe included too much butter or oil.
How I Salvaged my Peanut Brittle
If you’ve found yourself here, you are probably in the same situation I was recently. I had purchased all the ingredients to make jalapeño peanut brittle to give to my neighbors and friends. I planned to make three batches. The first batch came out perfectly – with a great flavor, light and crunchy texture, and a perfect golden color.
I began a second batch of peanut brittle, following the same recipe I used successfully before. However, as I poured the peanut brittle onto the baking sheet, I knew I had made a mistake.
There is no way the peanut brittle wasn’t heated to the hard crack stage, even though my thermometer read 300°F (149°C). The first picture in the instructions below is what my peanut brittle looked like following the same recipe as the batch before it. I was a sticky, gooey mess, but see how I fixed it!
How to Fix Chewy Peanut Brittle Step By Step
The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Step 1: Break or separate the already cooked peanut brittle into 3-4 sections.
Step 2: Add one section at a time to a medium saucepan. Warm the mixture over low-medium heat, stirring continuously.
Once one section softens, add another until they are all in the saucepan. While the mixture is semi-solid, keep stirring, or it will burn to the bottom of the pan.
Step 3: When the brittle softens, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan, ensuring it is fully submerged without touching the bottom. Increase the heat to medium and stir constantly until the temperature reaches 300℉ (149℃).
Step 4: Carefully spread the cooked mixture onto the reserved baking dish using a wooden spoon to create an even layer.
Set the peanut brittle aside, at room temperature, for at least an hour to harden before breaking it apart.
The End Result
You’ll notice the color of my salvaged batch is much darker than most peanut brittle, and that’s because, in my attempt to save the peanut brittle, I used my neighbor’s candy thermometer since mine wasn’t working.
As luck would have it, neither did hers, but I didn’t take the time to test it before using it, so it darkened more than I would have liked as I waited for it to come to temperature. All in all, the peanut brittle was saved. Was it as good as the first one? Not even close. But I didn’t have to throw it away, and in this economy, I will chalk that up to a win.
How to Store Peanut Brittle
Peanut brittle can become sticky or lose its crunch during storage. For the best results, store leftover brittle in an airtight container with parchment paper between the layers to prevent them from sticking to one another.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does my peanut brittle get sticky?
Not cooking the brittle to the correct temperature, high humidity levels, and cooling the brittle too quickly can all contribute to sticky or gooey peanut brittle.
Is it possible to soften hard peanut brittle?
Short Answer: Yes. You can soften peanut brittle in the oven, but results may vary.
Reviving stale or hard peanut brittle is possible to a certain degree. Try placing it on a rimmed baking sheet and gently heating it in an oven at a low temperature, around 250°F (121°C), for a few minutes; this may help soften the peanut brittle and restore some of its texture.
Why is my peanut brittle not hardening?
Short Answer: It didn’t get hot enough.
For the candy to harden, heat the sugar mixture to the hard crack stage around 300°F -310°F (149-154°C). This temperature indicates how hot the syrup is and how much water is in it. It is necessary to heat the sugar to that specific temperature range to ensure it hardens correctly.
How to Save Peanut Brittle
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 2 cups peanuts, salted
- 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Break or separate the already cooked peanut brittle into 3-4 sections.
- Add one section at a time to a medium saucepan. Warm the mixture over low-medium heat, stirring continuously.
- Once one section softens, add another until they are all in the saucepan. While the mixture is semi-solid, keep stirring, or it will burn to the bottom of the pan.
- When the brittle softens, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan, ensuring it is fully submerged without touching the bottom. Increase the heat to medium and stir constantly until the temperature reaches 300℉ (149℃).
- Carefully spread the cooked mixture onto the reserved baking dish using a wooden spoon to create an even layer.
- Set the peanut brittle aside, at room temperature, for at least an hour to harden before breaking it apart.
- The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.