Papa Ben's Peanut Brittle

Over the years, we've seen the demises and returns of a ton of old fashioned treats from the quintessential penny candy stores like horehound, button candy, and a personal favorite, peanut brittle. And some of these favorites have been revived and redazzled into gourmet, upscale treats, like the Rice Krispie treat. Making one is like making a car- you can put anything you want on it for a base fee and then, the add ons just get worse. It'll only be a matter of time before you can get edible diamonds or gold crap on your damned lollipops.Some treats are sticking to the basics, though, like a peanut brittle that I got in the mail recently. Papa Ben's Brittle has six ingredients that do something insanely magic when they combine. It's different from many of the brittles I've had in that it's a little more substantial and less airy. The bubbles are packed closer together and it's got a dense, foamy crunch. The sugar has caramelized and burnt to the point of perfection. It doesn't stick to the teeth, it just gently releases, like a friendly dog, and the sea salt is an excellent counterbalance to all the sugar that brittle typically puts in.At first, I couldn't appreciate this brittle because of the subtleties of the burnt flavors and the complexities of the layers. The peanuts are soft and yielding and end up playing, oddly, a second fiddle to the medley of sweet and salty and bitter that goes on in the actual candy in this confection. You can taste the very vessel that this was cooked in. This candy needs no bling or packaging or crazy advertising. It's just, in a word, an art form. I can eat through four ounces and know that each piece will taste a little different each time. It's a company that truly does keep on keepin' on.

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