December 21, 2020
The Rich History Of Spokane’s Davenport Hotel
The Davenport, located in Spokane, Washington, is a stunning historic hotel that opened in 1914. In its turn of the century glory, it was known as the most modern hostelry in the United States, boasting air conditioning, a pipe organ, a central vacuum system, housekeeping carts and accordion ballroom doors.
This landmark hotel shut down in 1985, but local entrepreneurs, Walt and Karen Worthy bought the hotel in 2000 and gave it a top-to-bottom renovation, restoring it to its former glory.
You can now walk the balcony overlooking the elegant main floor and imagine what it would have been like to waltz into one of the grand ballrooms next to the dapper top hats and sophisticated floor length gowns of the 1920s.
The Famous Soft Peanut Brittle
Along with the echoes of nostalgia, The Davenport also carries some signature items that make it famous. One of these is their homemade soft peanut brittle.
I still remember the first time I tried it. Wrapped in a pretty box with an elegant bow, I was sure I was not going to be impressed with anything but the wrapping, as I don’t really like traditional peanut brittle. I was so wrong! It was one of the best candies I had ever tasted. It is 100,000 times better than traditional peanut brittle. You can order it here from the hotel.
Thus began my hunt for the recipe.
I did a little research, found a basic recipe, then adapted it. Trial and error is the only way I ever make my way around the kitchen. I share with you what I’ve learned – what to do and what not to do. I now make this every Christmas and all of my mistakes will hopefully save you time and money!
Once you start making soft peanut brittle, be ready, people will ask you for it every year.
A few things before you start:
This recipe is all science.
While I can’t explain why it works the way it does, someone much smarter than me could. What I can tell you is that if you don’t follow the directions to the letter, it will not turn out. It will be too chewy or too hard. So there’s that.
Don’t plan to do anything else while you are making this recipe.
All of your attention is needed when making this recipe or it may not turn out. There have been times where I sat and watched the thermometer for an hour, then walked away to check social media or work on something else, and when I came back the temp. had skyrocketed and the batch was ruined. Candy making is an “all in” baking activity.
The Dav (what locals call it) turns out the hot candy mixture onto marble slabs to let cool.
This is genius and it scientifically works. However, most of us don’t have cold marble lying around the house, so we have to use what we have. Cookie sheets or granite cutting boards/slabs work well. I put mine in the freezer and then pull them out when I’m ready to spread the mixture.
A Few Extra Notes
Don’t leave the brittle in the freezer too long or it will harden. Just cool it until it in the freezer until it comes back to normal room temperature. A deep freeze works best if you have it and don’t open the freezer until you are ready to check it.
I have had better luck with Silicone sheets than parchment in getting the texture to turn out the way I like. Parchment is just fine and will totally work, but if you have silicone, give it a try.
Soft Peanut Brittle Video Tutorial
Ready to try it? Just follow the directions closely! Enjoy.
The Davenport Soft Peanut Brittle Recipe
This famous Spokane candy is perfect for Christmas gifts, but it’s also a crowd pleaser anytime of year.
2 c creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 c sugar
1 3/4 c light corn syrup
1/4 c water
2 Tbsp butter
2 c peanuts…raw or roasted
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
In a double boiler over hot water, place peanut butter to heat while preparing syrup.
In a large saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup of the water. Cook over high heat to 275 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Reduce the heat to medium and add butter, stirring until melted.
Add peanuts and cook stirring for about 5 minutes or until candy starts turning brown and reaches 285 degrees on the thermometer. Do not overheat. It will make the candy hard.
Remove from heat, stir in baking soda that has been dissolved in a teaspoon of water.
Add vanilla and stir.
Working quickly, fold in the warmed peanut butter, while stirring gently.
Working quickly, pour candy mixture onto a well greased marble slab or a cookie sheet.
Spread as thinly as possible and cool quickly.
When cold …break into serving size pieces.