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Friday, December 11, 2009

Hot Chocolate Mix and Zesty Southwestern Peanut Brittle {Homemade gift ideas}

I assume you’ve noticed that we’re having quite the “homemade” Christmas around our house this year and I am trying to share with you as many ideas as I can.  One thing you can always be certain of with me, though.  Some of my gifts every year will come from my kitchen.  I have some old favorites that I have made year after year, but this year I wanted to try some new things.

In preparation for my Christmas gift cooking, I recently purchased a big bag of store brand granulated sugar because, you know, the pennies must be pinched.  I later told my husband to knock me up-side the head if I ever make such a mistake again.  This particular store brand of sugar is full of big lumps and I am having to sift it before each use and throw out a lot of unusable sugar because of all the lumps.  That’s not a very economical use of sugar, wouldn’t you agree?

Enter C&H Sugar to save the day.  Just when I didn’t know how I was going to get the cooking done when I needed to for Christmas gifts, C&H came along with a beautiful, high quality product that gives me perfect results. 

And do you know what I found out?  C&H Sugar has a great website as a resource for recipe and gift ideas.  It was on that website that I got some ideas for a few gifts that I will be giving.

I found that I had some of these darling jars in my closet that were just begging to have something delicious placed in them.  Being as cold as it’s been this fall, Hot Chocolate Mix seemed perfect. 


Making this is so easy, it’s ridiculous.  Here’s what you need:

1 3/4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)
1/2 cup firmly packed C&H Brown Sugar
1/4 cup C&H Pure Cane Sugar


Layer ingredients carefully in a quart jar. Or if you’re like me, you might simply chose to go ahead and mix the ingredients before placing them in a jar (and my jars are smaller than a quart – they are 2 cups).   Add mini marshmallows or chocolate chips to fill additional room and add a sweet treat to your mix.  Seal tightly. To reconstitute, mix ingredients well. For a single serving, add 8 oz freshly boiled water to 1/2 cup mix in mug. Stir until completely dissolved.

But here’s what I’m really excited about.  In perusing the list of recipes on the C&H Sugar website, I came across this recipe for Zesty Southwestern Peanut Brittle.  Now, being from Texas, I just can’t pass up a “Zesty” and “Southwestern” twist to an old favorite like Peanut Brittle.  And since I had never made Peanut Brittle before, I knew I had found my new thing to try for this year. 

I was a little intimidated by the thought of making candy.  However, I found this recipe to be very easy and pretty quick to make.

Zesty Southwestern Peanut Brittle

Makes:  about 1-1/2 pounds peanut brittle

A bit of Cayenne Pepper gives this classic candy a subtle kick.



1/2 cup water
1 cup corn syrup, light
2 cups C&H Pure Cane Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups peanuts, raw shelled (I used dry roasted)
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda


Combine first six ingredients in a large saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 275°F on a candy thermometer. Add peanuts (this will lower the temperature a bit). Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 295°F. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. Pour onto a heavily buttered cookie sheet. For very thin brittle, stretch candy with a fork before it cools and hardens (or split the recipe and pour into 2 cookie sheets).
Credit: Recipe Developed and Tested By Contest Winner Gregory Ware



I divided the peanut brittle into bags of about 4 ounces each and that gave me 9 bags.  That’s NINE small gifts from one batch of peanut brittle that probably only cost a couple of dollars to make.  These will be perfect for giving to Sunday School teachers and the aides and administrators at the school.

So thank you to C&H Sugar for the wonderful gift and recipe ideas on your website and also for sponsoring this post with a $20 gift card to help out with the expenses of my Peanut Brittle experiment.  I might not have tried it without you.


I have linked this post to Chocolate Friday hosted by Lisa at Stop and Smell the Chocolates.  Join us over there for more chocolate recipes!


Melinda said...

I love the idea of brown sugar in a hot chocolate mix! I can't wait to try it - but I doubt if any will make into gift jars! :)

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Oh yummy!! Great gift ideas! We make a vanilla hot chocolate mix to give out every year! And I learned my sugar lesson a few years ago trying the generic brands - NOT the same! Have only used C&H ever since!

Anonymous said...

Cayenne Pepper! I NEVER would have thought to put that in peanut brittle, so I guess you're right: you are Way More Homemade than me. Now I'm dying to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing!