Chef: Hilary White, executive chef-owner of the Hil in Serenbe
Backstory: White and her staff make peanut brittle for snacks served in china bowls in the Hil’s foyer, or as garnish for a dessert special. But White’s recipe for the classic Southern candy has its roots in Shelby, Ohio, the small farming town where she grew up. Her extended family of enthusiastic cooks made giant batches of brittle for the holidays. Every year the Catholic school she attended held a Christmas bazaar. Her late grandmother, Mary White, organized candy-making sessions in the cafeteria and lived up to her nickname, “Sarge.” “She didn’t have to tell me to do something twice,” White says. “And there would be no quiver of the lip when she asked me to cut the peanut brittle into small pieces all the same size, with huge metal scissors, while it was still hot enough to burn my fingers.” The reward—a treat at once nutty, sweet, and salty—made up for a few scorched fingertips.
Butter for greasing pan (or use a Silpat liner)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups raw peanuts
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1. Butter a cookie sheet or place a Silpat liner on the sheet; set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat and cook until candy thermometer reaches 268 degrees.
3. Add the salt, butter, and peanuts; cook and stir until candy thermometer reaches 310 degrees. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla and baking soda and stir quickly until thoroughly mixed.
4. Immediately spread evenly over prepared cookie sheet. Let the mixture cool slightly.
5. With sturdy kitchen scissors, cut into small, uniform pieces. After the brittle cools completely, store it in airtight containers.
Makes 2 1/2 pounds.