At the iconic Lucas Candy sweet shop in Haverstraw, New York, owners Deb Bertrand and Nick Loucas make a variety of chocolates, candy canes, and beer brittle, a take on old-fashioned peanut brittle that substitutes water for craft beer.
Using a recipe passed down by Loucas’s great uncle, the two begin by putting sugar and solid corn syrup, which makes will make the brittle less sticky, into a pot, before adding a chocolate and peanut butter porter into the mix.
“Nick and I are huge craft beer lovers,” Bertrand says of conceptualizing the mixture. “[We thought] maybe we should add beer into the brittle and see if it changes the flavor, and sure enough, it worked.”
The mixture gets put over a furnace and mixed until the sugar is dissolved. Raw Spanish peanuts are added — “the peanuts will actually cook in the sugar, so you get a nice roasted flavor and it mixes in a little better,” says Loucas — and after that step, the mixture must be constantly stirred to avoid burning.
Bertrand adds butter solids, baking soda, and salt into the brittle after it’s been taken off the heat. “We’re trying to reduce the moisture, so instead of using regular butter, I want the brittle to be as brittle as possible,” says Bertrand. In the final step, they pour the brittle on the table and spread it out thin so that it dries out faster, at which point they begin breaking it up using a “brittle hammer.”
“The most satisfying thing is watching people experience beer brittle for the first time,” Bertrand says, “and being completely amazed.”
Watch the full video to see how Bertrand and Loucas make candy canes and chocolate.