How can something so delicious be so easy to make? I would have been making brittle for years if I knew I could do it in under 30 minutes. I might have made it earlier, except that, I had no cravings for brittle until now. I am not quite sure what inspired me suddenly perusing the internet for brittle recipes, but once I did, I had to make some, but make some my way.
“My way” meaning, it needed a bit of spice, a kick if you will and something to balance out the sweetness. I really don’t have a sweet tooth, but if something sweet is balanced with something salty and has a bit of spice too, I am in. I recently made some caramel truffles with fleur de sel and that is what likely set me on my way, the fleur de sel. It was a perfect end to a bite of delight. If it worked for chocolate, it will work for brittle too. And it did.
I made a triple batch for starters, as the effort seemed too much for one cup of nuts. After that, I went a little crazy and did some smaller experimental batches. Two of those and then one more triple batch a week later as I had a lot of nuts and needed more brittle to give away for gifts.
First batch: Pumpkin seed, pine nut, almond brittle with NM red chile and fleur de sel
Second batch: Macadamia nut, almond, coconut brittle with cayenne and fleur de sel
Third batch:Coconut cardamom cayenne brittle with fleur de sel – for a friend with nut allergies.
Fourth batch: Cashew, macadamia, almond and coconut brittle with cayenne and fleur de sel.
I think I can take a week off from brittling now. Yes, I know, I just made a word up. Every once in a while you just have to make a word up.
First, toast your nuts, or not, I like a toasted nut better, but you don’t have to. These are pre-toasting. I won’t show you the pic of the post toast. Needless to say, I severely burned the nuts I roasted for the first batch and had to re-roast. I am pretty good at burning nuts thanks to my uneven heating oven. They went to the squirrels. The second post toast I have no photos of.
Brittle with Fleur De Sel and Cayenne
3 cups nuts of your choice or unsweetened dried coconut
3 TBS chilled diced unsalted butter
3 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp fleur de sel
1/2 tsp cayenne – more or less to taste – I like it hot.
3 cups sugar
1.5 cups water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (keeps the sugar from seizing)
candy thermometer or temperature probe if you have one – it’s not necessary, just easier
Toast your nuts if you are a nut toaster. If you have a silpat, get two or three of those out and place them on your counter overlapping. If not, use three large cookie sheet size sheets of foil, over lap them slightly and butter them lightly with unsalted butter. The silpat needs no butter. In a bowl, combine nuts, diced butter, baking soda, fleur de sel and cayenne pepper. In a 3 quart pot, add your sugar, water and cream of tartar. Bring to a boil and let it cook until it is an amber color – this will be around 350F to 370F if you have a thermometer. It takes much longer to get to this point with this triple batch than with 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup water. Ten to 20 minutes. No need to stir the sugar mixture, but I can’t help myself, so I do. As soon as the color starts to darken, be on red alert and ready to go in an instant. Once it appears to be the color of honey or medium amber, cut the heat and immediately stir in the nut mixture, stir fast and stir hard. The mixture will sizzle and bubble up and act very excited in a happy way. Once incorporated, start pouring it out on to the buttered foil and spread as fast and thin as you can. Admire your work and let it cool while you clean the pot. The easiest way to clean the pot and spoon is to fill the pot back up with water and bring it to a boil. Sugar of course dissolves in water. No scrubbing. No work.
Once the brittle is cooled, about 10 minutes more or less, you can start breaking it up into whatever size pieces you want. This brittle will keep in a sealed container for at least a month if your nuts were fresh. Try making it last that long, I dare you. Make sure you give some to your dentist, just in case you eat too much of it.