The foods I remember using (I have a list in my office somewhere!) were Italian parsley, pickled garlic scapes, fennel seeds, chopped almonds, fresh spinach, and cooked beets. The surprise 'hit' for the evening was pairing the tastes of the chopped almonds with garlic, any of the garlic varieties, but the most impressive was our variety Slovenian, which has a smokey flavor. I remember the "wow!", thinking in my head about a new candy bar!
A week later, I was visiting friends in Virginia. We were talking over dinner options for later in the week when my husband would be arriving. Bacon brittle was on the menu. Bacon brittle! I had never heard of such a thing, so why not modify the recipe to also make garlic-almond brittle?
I am the idea person, so I left for my meetings in DC and came back several days later to find that my friend and my husband (who love to cook together - I wonder if I ever blogged about their Iron Chef cook-off using carrots as the secret ingredient several years ago?) researched the idea, came up with a recipe, and executed it before I got back to their home after my DC meetings were finally done.
The garlic brittle (and the small bit of bacon brittle I tried - yes I did!) was delicious, so in a weak (but creative) moment, we added making garlic brittle on our farm with us as an auction item on the on-line auction last month for Growing Hope, one of our favorite local non-profit organizations in Ypsilanti, MI. We had hoped that someone from our Garlic Friends Email Newsletter list would be the winner, and in fact, that is what happened! To make it even better, the winning family has a connection to our part of the township. They came over today, bringing their two young sons to share in the event.
We raised boys, we love boys, my husband took them right under his wing/tutelage, and I hired these two young men to work for us this summer, assuring them that 'weeding is wonderful' and I would weed or harvest or clean garlic right along with them. It was a great afternoon! They went home with lots of garlic brittle, and I assured them that they were always welcome at our farm, without needing to bid on an auction item in the future!
Here is the recipe we used today, which is different from the one that we first came up with last Fall. I think the variations are endless, and I can see us making this to sell when we have access to a commercial kitchen. In the meantime, you can try it yourself following this easy recipe (no candy thermometer needed).
Recipe: Garlic Peanut Brittle
Special Note: you must have all your ingredients measured out and waiting prior to starting as there is no time (none!) in between steps for measuring!
Special Note: our microwave's high level is 800 watts. If yours is higher wattage, you'll have to reduce times but I cannot guide you on how to do this - good luck!
1 cup white sugar (yes we used this)
1/2 cup white corn syrup (yikes, we used this, too - please don't tell the entire world!)
1 cup unsalted peanuts (chop slightly in a food processor)
1/2 cup pureed roasted garlic (4-6 heads of garlic, depending on size)
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1. Mix the sugar and corn syrup well in an 8-cup microwaveable dish (It's easier if you have something with a handle on it).
2. Microwave on high for 3-1/2 minutes, stirring after the first two minutes.
3. Add peanuts and garlic puree to the sugar/syrup mixture and microwave on high for 4 minutes, stirring at two minute intervals.
4. Add vanilla and butter, stir, and return to microwave for 1 minute on high.
5. Remove from microwave and stir in baking soda (it will bubble up here, hence the 8 cup container!!).
6. QUICKLY pour onto lightly greased cookie sheet or silicon baking mat and cool in fridge (or more quickly on the cold stove top or the cold garage or even the very cold bench on the front porch!) for 15 minutes.
7. Break apart and store in airtight container.
The roasted garlic adds an intriguing background flavor without overwhelming the peanuts or the sweetness of the brittle itself. I am going to make it again with raw garlic, chopped very fine, with chopped dry roasted almonds. Now that combination is my candy bar vision!
Enjoy the photos of our garlic brittle making session!
The Garlic Brittle High Bidders!
My husband and his two apprentice chefs!
The two boys stirring in the baking soda and watching the mixture foam - a great food science experiment!
My husband pouring out the very hot finished brittle onto the silicone mat that the Garlic Elf brought us for Christmas. (I guess we were good this year!)
Garlic brittle cooling on the cold part of our stove top. As soon as it stiffened up a bit, we took the mat and the garlic brittle outside and let it cool completely (and quickly) while set on the bench on our front porch (it is a cold January day in Michigan while I am writing this!).
The Garlic Brittle Boys breaking up the brittle to take home.
Still breaking up the brittle!
Batch #1 ready to go home. Two batches completely filled these two tins - yum, yum!!
Last night my husband and I watched a movie - shock! We are the most cinema-deficient people on the planet, but we watched Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin in It's Complicated. There were so many funny lines in that movie that made me laugh out loud, again and again, but the line that most hit home with me was Meryl Streep (Jane) telling someone that "Fun is definitely under-rated".
I cannot imagine eating as much garlic brittle as we made today (and our friends took home with them), nor can I imagine that garlic brittle might qualify as a 'health food', but today was fun, and I would do that again in a minute.
Bring on the FUN! I am ready. :-)
Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,
Diana Dyer, MS, RD