Mexican candy like this spicy peanut brittle is a great way to indulge your sweet tooth. Make this easy recipe now for a delicious treat when the urge hits!
Mexican Candy: Spicy Peanut Brittle
This recipe for spicy peanut brittle uses simple ingredients and it only takes 25 minutes to make, start to finish!
- Granulated white sugar
- Piloncillo or brown sugar
- Kosher salt
- Chili powder (I suggest using my homemade chili powder recipe)
- Butter – If you use salted peanuts, it’s best to use unsalted butter
- Toasted peanuts
If you prefer a less spicy brittle, you can substitute ground cinnamon for the chili powder. 🙂
What is piloncillo?
Piloncillo is a raw cane sugar with a taste similar to molasses. It is easy to find at many Mexican/Latino markets.
The equivalent of what Americans call brown sugar, piloncillo (also known as panela) has a natural rich flavor.
The most common use for it is in South American recipes, especially desserts and candy.
Tips when working with hot sugar
Making Mexican candy is a lot of fun. However, you have to be very careful when working with hot sugar, especially if it’s not something you do often.
Sugar burns easily, especially if you don’t watch the temperature. Plus, it can splatter, causing serious burns to exposed skin. Here are a few tips to keep things safe and easy:
- Keep cold water handy in case of an emergency. If you get any hot sugar on your skin, submerge the affected area in cold water immediately.
- If at all possible, use a candy thermometer. Temperature is very important when working with hot sugar. As a result, a proper candy thermometer will make it easier to monitor the sugar as it cooks.
- Do not walk away! Sugar can burn in a split second, so this is one time you need to watch the pot constantly.
- Use minimal stirring. Don’t stir the sugar after it starts to heat up. Too much movement can cause it to crystallize on the inside of the pan.
Other examples of traditional Mexican candy
Mexican candy and other sweet treats come in a range of flavors. There are sweet candies, salty or spicy, and sometimes all three at the same time!
Some popular traditional Mexican sweets include:
- Tamarind-flavored candy: This popular flavor is available in a variety of candies. Mexican favorites include Pulparindos, Tamarindos, and tamarind-laden spoons. The spoons feature tamarind flavored chewy candy paste that is scooped into white plastic spoons.
- Chocolate: Mexican chocolate is often flavored with spices, like chili peppers and cinnamon.
- Alegría: A sweet treat made with a mixture of honey and amaranth seeds.
- Mexican mazipan: Similar to marzipan (which is made with almonds), mazapan is usually made with ground peanuts mixed with sugar, made into a stiff dough and then cut into pieces.
- Dulce de leche: Made from sugar and burnt milk, this is a often made into a thick, soft chewy candy.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg! There are plenty of Mexican treats, cookies and other desserts to try. Here are a few of my other sweet Mexican recipes to get your started:
For another spin on nut brittle, try my Almond and Pistachio Brittle, it’s amazing!
Watch me make spicy peanut brittle in the video below!
Spicy Peanut Brittle
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp piloncillo or brown sugar (See Note 1)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp chili powder (or cinnamon powder)
- 2 tbsp butter cut into small pieces
- 2 cups peanuts toasted
- Lightly grease a 8" square baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, add the sugar, piloncillo, honey, salt, chili powder and a 1/4 cup water. Stir or swirl to mix.
- Set over medium-low heat, stir to mix and bring to a boil. Allow to cook until the temperature reaches 300°–320°F, about 5–6 minutes. Be careful not to burn the sugar!
- Remove from the heat and quickly add the butter and peanuts, stir using a wooden spoon until combined.
- Scrape the mixture into the baking dish and press the candy into an even layer using the back of spatula. Before completely hardening and candy is still pliable, flip it over onto a cutting board and slice into squares.
- Let cool completely and serve, or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature.
- Piloncillo is cane sugar, similar in taste to molasses and can be found at most Mexican/Latin markets. It comes in a 8 ounce cone shape, wrapped in plastic. For this recipe you just need 2 tablespoons. If I do not have any on hand, you can substitute using 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.