I initially made these peanuts to go into another recipe, but they came out so well that they also make a fabulous snack– I had leftovers and I can’t stop eating them.
For me, I prefer this alternative to candied peanuts, which have a tough, gravelly texture, and a flavor that is too sweet for me– they are not unlike the candied nuts one can get on a street cart in New York. Caramelizing the sugar beforehand results in a smoother, caramelized coating that lets the peanut still be the star. I also think that if you want a spicy-sweet snack, you could play around with putting various spices in there in place of, or in addition to, the cinnamon. You could also use salted roasted peanuts and eliminate the dash of salt into the sugar mixture– they will probably be a little more salty this way, for a salty-sweet kind of thing. This all depends a lot on your own preferences.
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp water
dash of salt
dash of cinnamon
6 oz. peanuts (roasted unsalted)
Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper and set it aside, but close to your stove.
Combine the sugar, water, salt, and cinnamon in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Swirl the pan around to help the sugar dissolve. Let the sugar mixture boil. Using a candy thermometer, let the mixture reach 248 degrees.
Quickly add in the peanuts, and stir them around vigorously with either a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, so that they get evenly coated. They will be super sticky, and very stubborn, but keep stirring so that the sugar coating caramelizes evenly. Once the sugar coating starts to turn amber, pour the peanuts out onto the baking sheet, and let them cool. If you want to break up the peanuts, you can try to do so while they’re still warm so that they aren’t in in big clusters. Let them cool entirely to room temperature and then store them in an airtight tupperware for up to 3 days, but really, they won’t last that long.