Apr 12

Peanut Brittle with Caramelized Cacao Nibs

in Candy, Chocolate, Dessert, Recipes by Type

Stack of Caramelized Cacao Nib Peanut Brittle

I am a toffee devotee.  My mom’s recipe for toffee is one of the things I have worked to perfect my technique on over the years.  I’ve found that if I show up to an event where there are food bloggers present, without a batch of toffee in hand, at least one person will gently chastise me for being so heartless.  To some of you, that may sound rude, but it’s really not.  My mom’s recipe is just that good.  Mr. Fuji and I recently attended a Dove Chocolate Discoveries Tasting Party, and one of the things served was a peanut brittle with caramelized cacao nibs.  Ever since the party I’ve had brittle on the brain, and have felt a bit disloyal about it.  I mean, c’mon!  How can brittle compete with my beloved sugary buttery confection slathered in rich dark chocolate?  But alas, this particular brittle was special.  Three little words had managed to open the door and let the desire to make brittle creep into my toffee loving heart: caramelized cacao nibs.  I finally couldn’t stand it and made up my own version of the brittle this past weekend.  I justified my toffee betrayal with the thought that cacao nibs make up for the lack of a rich chocolate layer and by tweaking my mom’s recipe to make the brittle.  I know, I know, I’m a horrible person!  But in recompense for my shocking behavior, I’m sharing the recipe with you!

Caramelized Cacao Nib Peanut Brittle

Making caramelized cacao nibs is easy, though finding the nibs can be a bit harder (look for them at gourmet food or baking stores).  Cacao nibs are the dry-roasted, chopped up bits of the cacao bean.  If you’ve ever caramelized nuts, you use the same process, except you add a tiny amount of butter at the very end.  You simply heat the nibs with some granulated sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar liquefies and sticks to the nibs.  Then you stir in the butter and spread the nibs out to cool.  Easy as that!  The end result are little dark crunchy sweet nuggets.  I like making extra to store and sprinkle on ice cream.

Caramelizing the Cacao Nibs

This isn’t a true brittle.  Brittle recipes normally direct you to melt sugar, water, and corn syrup together to make the candy, only adding a bit of butter at the end.  But call me a renegade, a cheat, or just plain lazy, because I went with the recipe already in my head, but added a key brittle ingredient at the end: baking soda.  Baking soda helps produce a lighter texture and the finished candy snaps easily (thus the name “brittle”).

Making the brittle

But brittle or not, this wannabe brittle makes me oh-so-happy, and sitting here writing about it makes me think I may have to go and nibble on one of the last little pieces I have hidden away . . . .

Peanut Brittle with Caramelized Cacao Nibs

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Peanut Brittle with Caramelized Cacao Nibs

Makes about 16 servings

8 ounces (1 cup) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup roasted salted peanuts
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons caramelized cacao nibs

1. Butter a large rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

2. Combine the butter, sugar, almond extract, and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly with a clean, dry, wooden spoon until the butter is melted. Continue cooking and stirring until the candy mixture thickens and starts to foam up slightly. Add the peanuts and continue to stir until the candy is golden brown (the color of unblanched almonds). Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the baking soda (the mixture will bubble). Stir until just blended. Pour the candy, without scraping the saucepan, onto the baking sheet in an even layer and spread with a lightly greased spatula.

3. Sprinkle the cacao nibs over the hot candy, then let it cool completely. Break into pieces. The brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Caramelized Cacao Nibs

Makes about 1/2 cup

2.25 ounces raw cacao nibs (about 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon butter, softened

1. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick mat or parchment paper and set aside. Pre-measure the butter and have it near the stove.

2. Heat the nibs and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. It is normal for the mixture to give off a little smoke during the cooking process. The sugar will start to stick together in larger clumps. Continue to stir constantly, until the sugar liquefies and there are only a few specks of unincorporated sugar. Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter until it is evenly distributed.

3. Pour the nibs out onto the prepared baking sheet to cool, separating them as much as possible. Let them cool at room temperature. When they are cool, break them apart by hand as needed. Store in an airtight container in a cool dark place, but do not refrigerate.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Fuji Nana April 12, 2011 at 6:48 am

What? Where has your loyalty gone? You could make me feel a whole lot better by bringing me a little bag of the new stuff…


Jessica @ How Sweet April 12, 2011 at 6:51 am

Oh man… mouth watering! This looks so good!


Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food April 12, 2011 at 6:52 am

mmm mmm mmm I love that you used nibs in this! :)

looks delish! :)


Abbie Wood April 12, 2011 at 6:56 am

That looks delicious! And I love the fact that it doesn’t have corn syrup in it!! I’ve got to try this..


Kulsum at JourneyKitchen April 12, 2011 at 7:03 am

Yeah Rachael you can pack those up and send it over. I’m loving it. And headed to check out your mom’s recipe for toffee!


EatLiveRun April 12, 2011 at 7:09 am

wow, I can’t wait to try this—I LOVE peanut brittle!


Paula - bell'alimento April 12, 2011 at 7:14 am

Oh my GOODness… on my list… and YES YES YES your Mom’s toffee recipe IS JUST THAT GOOD {no GREAT, no FANTABULOUS, sigh now I want some}


Urban Wife April 12, 2011 at 7:37 am

Ok, I have never heard of cacao nibs – clearly, I have been missing out! Thanks for sharing a great recipe! :)


Heather (Heather's Dish) April 12, 2011 at 7:39 am

Oh my goodness…it’s a good thing I can’t easily cocoa nibs or I’d be in BIG trouble! Looks fabulous!


Heidi @ Food Doodles April 12, 2011 at 8:03 am

Wow that looks amazing!


HeatherChristo April 12, 2011 at 8:34 am

As far as I am concerned, peanut brittle is a gift from God. I love it that you incorporated cocoa nibs.The little bitter and sweet crunchy bite that they have is probably amazing with the brittle. great looking recipe!


Brian @ A Thought For Food April 12, 2011 at 8:46 am

Oh yes does that look great! I’m not sure what else one needs in single bite.


Jamie April 12, 2011 at 9:38 am

Absolutely love it! Thanks for the tips and instructions and this kind of candy making has always been super scary to me! Now I really want some! Scrumptious! Especially with salted peanuts!


Lauren from Lauren's Latest April 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm

This looks divine! I love adding nuts to brittle!


Nisrine M. April 12, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Oh, yum! I’ll have to remember this brittle to make for my friends for xmas. Super idea!


Yuri April 12, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Oishii, Rachael! looks amazing :) xoxo


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 12, 2011 at 5:06 pm

This looks…like a gift from heaven! Cocoa nibs, peanut brittle, it just looks wonderful! I love brittles and my mom, a die hard candy maker with the candy thermometer used to make them…I hate recipes that are so precise I have to use a thermometer. Thanks for this one :)


Jessi April 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Thanks for the recipe it looks SOOO good, I have to make some for my papa and send him some for his 69th birthday! (he LOVES brittle)

Ps… did you change your RSS feed? cause all i’m getting is a sentance, and I used to get the whole post. (pouts)


Shirley@kokken69 April 13, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I have only learnt about cocoa nibs a few years ago and have always wondered what I can make with these… Thanks for the recipe! I shall try this soon!


EMK April 14, 2011 at 8:40 am

This looks amazing! I just saw a bag of cacao nibs at a organic store and was wondering how to use them. I just fond out how!!


Jimmy Huang April 14, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Peanut brittle is one of my favorites. I never learned how to make it. Now I’m going to try! Thanks!


Krista {Budget Gourmet Mom} April 15, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Hmmm, how is it possible that I have not had your mother’s toffee!? I think making a batch is in order next time I see you! As always, your pics are AH-mazing!


Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet } April 15, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Delish! Love Cocao! This is a brilliant brittle and on my list of must makes. Enjoy your weekend. :-)


Helene April 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm

This looks so yummy. Never made brittle before. Love the styling of the pictures.


Nancy@acommunaltable April 18, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Oh my I think you have another candy to rival the toffee.. so instead of having to bring one thing you are going to have to bring two!!!

This brittle is truly amazing…..


Darla @ Bakingdom April 19, 2011 at 5:20 am

I’m not usually a big peanut brittle fan, but this absolutely looks worth trying!


Katrina April 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm

This sounds wonderful! I love finding new and easy brittle recipes. Thanks!


Kiran @ KiranTarun.com April 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm

This looks so good! I’ve never tasted a brittle before. I am nuts! :D


Gaby April 25, 2011 at 11:45 am

ummmm are you making this for the bake sale – because if you do you should make extra because there is a good chance that I’ll buy at least 10 lbs!!!!!!!! :)


17SPORTSTOTOTOP December 17, 2022 at 12:11 am



17PACHINKOSITE December 17, 2022 at 12:11 am



17BACARASITE December 17, 2022 at 12:12 am



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