About Barb's Gourmet Brittles
It all began one Christmas… With a large family and limited resources, what better present than one made by hand? Barbara McGarrah knew exactly what to do; she'd make peanut brittle for every friend and relation on her list. Her dad, a "nutty professor" and expert in boiling, roasting and all things "pinder," got her a bag of blanched peanuts.
When the bag arrived, Barbara went nuts. "I saw the bag and realized what 100 pounds of peanuts was," Barbara gasped. "My husband looked at me like, 'What have you done?' " After recovering, Barbara proceeded to produce mass quantities of brittle. "After making brittle for every family member I could think of, I still had 50 pounds left," she moaned.
Barbara was in one sticky situation.
Unable to locate a hungry elephant and incapable of "living with having to throw them away," Barbara made more brittle to sell at the senior citizens craft show.
"My son said, 'Mom, I can't believe you're taking this to the Senior Center where half the people can't eat sugar and the other half don't have teeth.' " But everything went smoothly. "It was the smartest decision I've ever made, because seniors are the people who grew up with brittle," she said.
A fashion designer and seamstress, Barbara had to choose. Sew or stir? "Once I get rid of the nuts, I'll go back to sewing," she promised herself. But, "Every time I'd do one event, another would come up."
Barbara finally started her own business, and today she makes over 25 candy brittles.
"Each brittle has a story behind it, and each one is my baby," she said. From standard peanut to almond, cashew, pecan, macadamia and pistachio, Barbara incorporates nearly the whole nut family into her brittles. Then there are her chocolate brittles, including all the aforementioned nuts, dipped in flavored chocolates such as lemon, strawberry, orange, peppermint and spearmint. She even makes seed brittles, including sunflower, pumpkin and trail mix. Finally for those who prefer nut-free treats, Barbara offers "virgin" brittle that's "never been touched by a nut."
But wait there's more. Barbara now offers home-made brittle ice cream, from orange cream pecan, cafe almond and banana nut to "Mintal Escape," hot chocolate, strawberry delight and her "Whatever" flavor, "a combo of whatever doesn't fit in the buckets."
Sage advice: "Never bite off more than you can chew. Keep everything in perspective and do everything one day at a time."
"You've got to be able to listen, to see, and be in a position to follow your heart. In life, we can't plan anything. If we're patient and just wait for what we're supposed to do, everything will fall in the divine order."
Vital force: Barbara moved from Orlando in the early '80's to attend Florida State University, where she received a degree in fashion design and met her husband, Charles. They have one son, Reggie, who attends FSU.
Goals: "What I see happening with brittles is endless. I would love to one day do a brittle cookie. Like George Washington carver doing all the different things with peanuts, why not do the same with Barb's Brittles?"
Closing thoughts: "I love making brittles, and that's what I'm going to stick to." - Barbara McGarrah