Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nut Brittles

It’s so embarrassing. I’ve probably made fifty batches of nut brittles over the years, but this weekend I tried to make peanut brittle – and I failed miserably. It was yummy, but the texture was gross. The nuts were actually chewy. Not good. So, I’m determined to redeem myself. This is the recipe I usually use. I tried a different one this weekend, so maybe that was the problem?

You can change this up endless ways, using different nuts or seeds. I’m a huge fan of pecan brittle, but if you’ve never made it before, try peanut first. It’s more forgiving. Pecans go from deliciously toasted to open-the-window-to-clear-the-room-of-smoke black so quickly. If you want to get really fancy, you could add herbs or spices to the mixture. Just be careful of the quantities here. Remember while cooking is an art, baking (and candy making) are also a science. I’m thinking pinenuts and rosemary? That might be awesome.

Here is the recipe I’ve used a million times. Use this one. It rocks. It’s from – who else?—Martha Stewart.

·         Nonstick cooking spray
·         1 1/2 cups sugar
·         1/2 cup light corn syrup
·         3/4 teaspoon salt
·         2 tablespoons butter
·         1 1/2 cups mixed nuts, such as pecan halves, cashews, pistachios, coarsely chopped if large
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • Spray a rimmed baking sheet and a wide metal spatula with cooking spray; set aside. 

  • In a 2-quart glass measuring cup, combine sugar, corn syrup, and salt, stirring until sugar is moistened. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Stir in butter and nuts; return to microwave for about 5 minutes, until the sugar mixture is thick, bubbly, and very pale brown in color. Mixture is very hot; use handle when holding and pouring. (Alternatively… and this is the way I do it… place everything in a pot and on the stove.) I’ve found I can monitor things better and avoid scorching the sugar and burning everything.)

  • Remove from microwave, stir in vanilla and baking soda (mixture may foam up). Immediately pour onto prepared baking sheet, spreading mixture as thinly as possible with the prepared spatula. Let stand 20 minutes until hardened, then lift off sheet, and break brittle into bite-size pieces.

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