Peanut chikki is a crunchy and sweet peanut brittle made with jaggery, offering a deep molasses flavor that sets it apart from regular brittle. It is the ideal dessert for holiday or candy boxes.
Chikki is a candy that is especially fun to make during the holidays and pack into Diwali gift boxes. You can check out this article on how to create a homemade Deepavali/Diwali gift box filled with other delicious Indian sweets.
What is jaggery?
Jaggery, also known as gur (Hindi) or vellam (Tamil), is unrefined cane sugar. I prefer getting jaggery in its powder form as it is easy to measure. Jaggery adds a deep molasses flavor to the peanut brittle that makes it sweet and complex. You can easily find jaggery powder or jaggery blocks online. If you want to learn more about jaggery and its substitutes checkout this blog post all about the ingredient.
Substitutes for peanuts
Chikkis can be made with a whole host of crunchy elements besides peanuts. Here are some alternatives that would work great in place of peanuts:
- Pistachios (slivered or chopped)
- Blanched Almonds (slivered)
- Puffed Rice
- Sesame Seeds
Perfect temperature for chikkis
The hardest part of making chikkis is understanding when the dessert is done. This candy is so much easier to make if you have a candy thermometer to help guide you. It is important to get the chikki to the hard crack stage which lies between 300F and 310F to get it to be crunchy. However, because the temperature of the jaggery syrup rises rapidly, the instructions say to cut the heat at 290F as the jaggery will continue to increase in temperature from the residual heat of the pan. If you get beyond this temperature range, the chikkis will have a burned flavor, and if you are under this temperature, the chikkis will be chewy and sticky rather than crunchy.
How to make chikki without a candy thermometer
If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can still make chikkis, although it may take a little bit of trial and error as you master figuring out the doneness. Simply have a small bowl with ice water nearby while making the jaggery syrup. As the jaggery starts bubbling, use a greased metal or wooden spoon to take a small bit and drop it in the ice cold water. If the jaggery syrup hardens into a candy structure, you are ready to cut the heat. If the jaggery syrup is still malleable and soft, the jaggery needs more time on the stove. As the syrup gets hotter, lower the heat so as not to burn the sugar and do more frequent checks for doneness.
Tips for making chikkis
- Grease the top and bottom of two sheet trays to ensure that chikkis don't stick. The sheet trays will help you flatten the brittle without having to directly touch the hot candy.
- Do not use a non-stick pan and plastic utensils. The jaggery syrup will get to a high heat so it is important not to use a pan with a non-stick coating that can degrade while making this candy. Again, with high heat, plastic utensils can melt or burn so avoid using them.
- Avoid mixing the jaggery sugar in the pot. Once jaggery and water start simmering on the stovetop, avoid mixing the syrup. If the syrup gets onto the sides of the pan, it can burn and crystalize before the rest of the sugar syrup is ready.
- Clean pots and pans with stuck brittle by boiling hot water. If there are bits of hardened and stuck-on caramel on the pots or spoons that you are using, it is helpful to add water to the pot and let it simmer to soften the caramel and loosen it from the pot.
- Use a candy thermometer to gauge the perfect timing to remove the candy. You can read here about the right temperature to take your chikkis out as well as tips to make chikkis without a candy thermometer.
- Store peanut chikkis at room temperature, not in the fridge. Storing the chikkis in the fridge will cause them to weep which means that there will be layers of water on the surface, which will cause them to soften and become an unpleasant texture.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can buy jaggery in powdered form at an Indian grocery store or online. Learn more about how to source in this blog post all about jaggery.
Good substitutes for jaggery are palm sugar, muscavado sugar, or brown sugar.
You can make this brittle with your other favorite nut, sesame seeds, or puffed rice.
The most likely cause is that the jaggery syrup was not heated to a temperature between 300F - 310F, causing the chikki to be chewy. The other common mistake is refrigerating the chikkis, which will cause them to weep and get an unpleasant texture.
Even though hard crack state is 300F, it is better to turn off the heat at 290F because the jaggery syrup will continue to increase in temperature from the residual heat of the pan.
You can drop a bit of the jaggery syrup into cold water to test if the chikkis harden properly. Read more about how to do this here.
Add water and boil on the stove until the jaggery sugar softens. This will make it much easier to clean off the pots and pans that have hard candy stuck to them.
Chikkis will last at room temperature for 2+ weeks. The main issue will be the peanuts getting rancid. So it is safe to eat them as long as the peanuts taste fine to you.