Toasted nuts are already an irresistibly crunchy snack, but roasted and caramelised nuts are on another level! So, for all nut lovers out there, we have an exciting nut brittle recipe inspired by a Caribbean favourite: Jamaican peanut "drops". Sounds good? Let's jump right into it!
Jamaican peanut drops, also known as peanut cake, are sugar-candied roasted peanuts flavoured with spices and enjoyed as a dessert or snack. They're quite similar to a nut brittle in the way they're made: a mixture of water and sugar is heated until the sugar caramelises; then, nuts and spices are added in, and finally, the hot candy is left to cool down and harden on a flat surface.
The difference between peanut drops and peanut brittle is in the way they're shaped. As the name says, the Jamaican candy is shaped like a "drop": a spoonful of caramelised nuts is literally dropped onto a sheet of baking paper. The brittle, instead, is a long, flat slab of candied nuts left to cool down and then broken into shards. Also, the classic brittle includes far more sugar than the Caribbean version, meaning the caramel layer is much thicker.
Preparing Jamaican peanut drops requires very few and simple ingredients: peanuts, sugar, and cinnamon. But in our recipe, we made a few changes for a quicker and healthier option. Instead of preparing the sugar syrup from scratch, caramelise it with the nuts over the hob, and then shaping the drops, we opted for another process. We coated the nuts with maple syrup, shaped the drops, and then roasted them in the oven until the sugar caramelised.
This means you can get these candied nuts ready in a flash with zero effort, no sputtering caramel and no sticky business. On top of this, we also replaced part of the syrup with peanut butter, which helps bind the nuts without adding extra sugars. And if we do the math, this comes down to almost four times less sugar than a classic peanut drop. Awesome!
Each peanut candy has only 124 calories, and it covers 4% RDI of sugars, 13% RDI of fats, and 10% RDI of proteins. These crunchy drops are perfect as a snack when you need a pick-me-up sweet treat, as long as you enjoy them in moderation. You can also crumble them into bits and use them to garnish desserts like cupcakes and frostings. We love them scattered on a nice scoop of caramel ice cream in summer. Yum!
Spread the peanuts flat on a baking tray and roast them for 10 minutes at 150°C (300°F) in static mode.
Meanwhile, add maple syrup, peanut butter, and cinnamon to a bowl.
Mix well into a smooth and uniform syrup (1).
Then, tip in the roasted nuts and toss them until they're coated (2).
For each "drop", take a spoonful of the nut mixture and place it onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Then, give it a flat, round shape.
Bake the peanut drops for 15 minutes at 150°C (330°F) until they're golden brown, caramelised, and crunchy.
Remove the drops from the tray only when they have cooled down long enough. You'll know they're ready if you can easily peel them off the baking paper without cracking them.
Finally, transfer them on a wire rack and let them cool down completely and harden before serving.
You can add other spices to the peanut mixture, such as ground nutmeg or ginger.
Instead of maple syrup, you can use a sugar solution of water and coconut/brown sugar. To do so, dissolve 30g (1 oz) of sugar in one tablespoon of water and heat the mixture over medium heat. Let it boil and then pour it into the bowl with the peanut butter. Then, follow the recipe as above.