There I was, paging through an old Nabisco cookbook, as one does when they’re on the 735th day of quarantine. When I spotted an entry for what Nabisco called Very Beary Peanut Brittle, I knew that everything was about to change, and change big.
It was a common (if simplified) recipe for peanut brittle, but with the glorious addition of Teddy Grahams. I thought I knew my personal buttons pretty well, but this one slid by me. As soon as I saw that photo of cute little Teddy Grahams trapped in sugary Jurassic Park amber, my brain only had space for Very Beary Peanut Brittle.
Knowing that it’d be somewhat lacking in tact to head out during a pandemic just for Teddy Grahams, I waited until we needed some truly essential items — like Mountain Dew Frost Bite, which has a bomb-ass arctic shark on the label. (I’m kidding. It was for like, food and paper towels. But I did grab the Frost Bite, too.)
The other ingredients included corn syrup, vanilla extract, baking soda, sugar, butter and cocktail peanuts. Given that lineup, I knew I’d end up with something delicious. I wasn’t sure if it’d be peanut brittle, exactly, but I was willing to try.
PS: I’m so fascinated by Teddy Grahams. They’ve managed to survive in stores for what, 32 years now? Clearly they mean something to many of you. For me, they’ve been a bit of a blind spot, I suppose because I consider graham crackers only a small step above those biscuits you feed zoo llamas. Like with the llama biscuits, I enjoy graham crackers, but I’d never pick them from an aisle full of chocolate chips and neon sprinkles.
When I do these “recipe posts,” I usually, you know, tell you the recipe. This time, I think it’d be better if you heard it straight from Nabisco. Given my performance this afternoon, I don’t feel like a deserving tutor.
Midway through the cooking process, I realized that I’d accidentally doubled the proper amount of water. By that point, all I could do was double everything, which would’ve been fine if I’d been using a larger saucepan. After 20 minutes of nothing happening, I finally switched to a larger saucepan, and wondered how this pot of foamy water was supposed to turn into peanut brittle.
Miraculously, it did. I think it was the vanilla extract. I assumed it was just for flavor, but the goo didn’t take on that classic brittle color until I added the extract. It felt good to do it, too. I never actually used vanilla extract before today, and I’ve spent almost my whole life wondering what sort of powers it held. Ever since that Family Ties episode where Tom Hanks drank a whole bottle of it. Why is that the Family Ties moment I remember most?
After I finished pressing tiny edible bears into the brittle, I let it cool for a few hours. During that time, it became so unbelievably glued to the baking sheet that I could only free the brittle by flipping the entire sheet over and smacking it with a meat tenderizer. I was like Garth with his disembodied robot hand.
I’m still in awe of how well it turned out. Like, holy shit, that really IS peanut brittle. *I* made that. Me, the guy who has never poured from a two-liter soda bottle without spilling 1.5 liters of soda.
It smelled fantastic. Like those “Hot Nuts” Manhattan street vendors used to sell before the dark times. The taste was even better. I’d never been especially fond of peanut brittle, and long believed that it was mostly for pranks involving spring-loaded snakes. But this really was good. A peanut in every bite, and half a Teddy Graham in every other bite.
And how adorable are those Teddy Grahams, trapped in this terrible candy hell? Only a few survived the tenderizer incident fully intact, and I’m trying to avoid eating those. If they made it this far, it’s best to see if fate has something special in store for them. Besides, there were plenty of dead Teddy Grahams to eat. They’re dead if they’re missing their heads, right?
So that’s what I did today. Made peanut brittle with Teddy Grahams. It was fun, it was an activity, and now I have a Tupperware stuffed with what would honestly qualify as shanks. My teeth hurt and I burned my favorite fingers, but this was a good day. I encourage you to make your own good days, whether it’s by cooking peanut brittle or doing something that isn’t that.