Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Brittle with Habanero

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One of my favorite places to go for spices and hard-to-find ingredients is Christina's Spice & Specialty Foods, located in Inman Square in Cambridge. This small and unassuming shop has a vast array of unique dried spices like mango powder, methi, alfalfa powder, liquorice root and juniper. I'm not sure what I would do with many of these things, but I do love to go into this fragrant, pleasantly cramped and overstocked shop just to see (and smell) what is there. The last time I went, I bought some saffron, chia seeds and a jar of neon orange habanero powder, all with handwritten labels and accompanied by very cheap price tag. 
This habanero powder was a fantastic find because of its deeply spicy, complex and perfectly balanced quality—and because it tastes especially amazing with chocolate. 

I've combined peanuts, chocolate and a spicy element in a dessert before with surprisingly good results, so I thought I try it again in a brittle this weekend. I wanted it to be rich and almost toffee-like, so I used a combination of coconut cream and soy lecithin to achieve that quality. This created a buttery and fatty note, which was perfectly balanced out by the crisp and subtly shocking habanero powder. A final dredge in some melted and slightly sweetened raw chocolate sealed everything together here nicely, creating an addictive and unique melt-in-your-mouth brittle.

1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup corn syrup
1 TB soy lecithin (optional)
1/4 cup coconut cream (skim the heavy stuff off the top of the can)
3/4 cup of roasted and salted whole peanuts
1/2 teaspoon of habanero powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 TB Earth Balance

1/4 cup raw virgin coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened chocolate powder (I used Ghirardelli brand)

2 TB raw agave
extra large-crystal salt

Line a baking sheet with a silpat. Set aside. 
Place the first five ingredients into small saucepan over medium heat. Clip a thermometer to the side of it and set it to 300 degrees. (I used this.) Constantly stir the mixture until well combined with a rubber spatula and it starts to slightly bubble. Add in the peanuts and stir to combine.

Making sure the end of the thermometer is fully submerged but not touching the bottom of the saucepan, stir continuously until the temperature reaches 300 degrees. Remove the saucepan from the heat, then stir in the habanero powder until combined. Now, add in the baking soda and stir. It should be very bubbly and rise if you stop stirring it for a few seconds. Now add in the vegan butter and stir again. It should be very fluffy and almost marshmallow-like in texture.

Pour the contents onto the silpat-lined baking sheet using the rubber spatula. Lift and tilt the baking sheet from side to side so the mixture sets evenly. Let it cool for about 30 minutes.

Melt the coconut oil in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Whisk it together with the cocoa powder and raw agave in a medium-sized shallow square vessel.

Break the brittle into pieces and dredge then in the chocolate, returning them to the silpat to slightly harden. Sprinkle immediately with a little large crystal salt. Place into the freezer for about 10 minutes to set, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This brittle tastes best after a few hours of chilling in the refrigerator.


  1. i have always wanted to try spicy chocolate!

  2. I love chilli and chocolate together, and this looks great.

  3. i always love your sweet and spicy combos! brittle is on my list of things to make this week, and i'm definitely inspired by yours ;)

    1. Thank you Caitlin! Making brittle is so much fun, one of my favorites to make around the holidays.

  4. Sounds amazing - love the combo of deep chocolate with a little kick. This bark looks so good!

  5. chilli and chocolate go so well together, this looks like the ideal gift to make for those hard to please friends who have everything - great:)

    1. Thanks Christine! I hope you have a fantastic holiday! : )

  6. What a great way to use coconut cream (instead of butter)! I will be giving this wonderful looking treat a go this Christmas season and will use macadamia nuts rather than the peanuts to give it a seasonal touch :)

    1. I hope you enjoy! It really does give a melty yet crunchy feel to it. I love your idea of using macadamias for this!

  7. I'm bookmarking this. I rarely make my own chocolate fromt scratch, but why not!

    Two questions... as far as you know :

    * Can I use lecithin granules instead of the liquid form?
    * Can I use anything instead of corn syrup?


    1. Hi Babette! I've never used lecithin granules, so I am not sure. Unless they can melt down nicely into a liquid, I would just leave it out. I've also never tried making a corn syrup replacement, but there are tons of corn syrup-less brittle recipes online.

  8. I love this idea! Habaneros are my favourite chillies, I think they have such a great flavour.

  9. A few ingredients I've never heard of before, what's earth balance? Looks nice though.

    1. Thanks Sofia -- Earth Balance is vegan butter -- I've linked to the product in the recipe list to be more clear.


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