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Sweet, Salty, Crunchy, Yummy!

December 16, 2011

My holiday baking and candymaking extravaganza has begun! We’re not showing our house right now (holidays and pending contract!) so I’ve started on the craziness that happens every year usually in early December. Last night I was up late making the first few batches of pistachio brittle! Last year was the first year I made this brittle, and it was a HUGE hit. It was also a HUGE trial! The idea came from one of the Martha Stewart issues I was looking at last fall/winter, but the recipe in the magazine was a disaster! I believe the ratio of sugar to water was 2 cups sugar to 1/4 cup water. It just did not work. After two tries I took out my trusty Party Nuts cookbook, which saved the day – as usual. If you don’t have it, go get it. And while you’re at it check out author Sally Sampson’s cooking magazine ChopChop.

My recipe here is the same basic, simple brittle recipe you can find in Party Nuts (I’ve doubled the amounts – I know, it’s a no-no, but it worked). I’ve chopped up my pistachios and cut the brittle, which I took from the Martha Stewart Living magazine. The end result is sweet, salty, crunchy and yummy!

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped salted pistachios

Before each session of candymaking I test my candy thermometer by boiling a pot of water, and making sure the thermometer reads 212 degrees farenheit. If you’re going to rely on your thermometer it needs to be accurate!

Before you get started prep your pan with enough foil to have a hang-over on each side, and spray the foil very well with spray-oil.

Butter a spoonula (or a spoon and a spatula) to stir and spread the brittle, and butter a large knife for cutting up the brittle. Have a large cutting board standing by, ready for the brittle. Finally, chop your pistachios (in the food processor if you can – save your energy!) and measure out the amount you’ll need – have it standing by!

Now that you’re prepared, put the sugar and water in a pan over high heat and boil. (I admit, I’m a bit lazy here – I just plop the thermometer in at the start, and I don’t wash down the sides of my pan with a wet pastry brush. Every time I’ve tried to do that I’ve ruined my candy, so I skip it now.)

Boil at high heat for about five minutes, or until all of the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear. Reduce the heat to medium-ish and continue to boil until it reaches about 305 degrees. Pay very close attention once it hits 260 or so, as the temperature will rise very quickly. Every recipe I’ve seen indicates 300 degrees, and some say a few extra work well to counteract humid conditions. I like a little more of the burnt sugar taste of caramel in my brittle, so I actually cooked this to almost 320. You have to watch it VERY VERY close, and take it off the heat as soon as you start to smell that “burnt sugar” smell. It should just be starting to turn cinnamon colored. If in doubt, take it off, because if it goes too far you’re stuck with nothing but a mass of burnt sugar.

Immediately after you take it off the heat, stir in the pistachios, quickly! You’ll notice there are no photos of this step. Dump your candy onto the prepared foil and spread it as quickly as you can into a relatively even thickness. Let the brittle sit for about two minutes, then pick it up using the foil overhang and plop it over onto the cutting board.

Working quickly cut the brittle into square-ish pieces. If it gets too cool it will start breaking rather than cutting. You can stick it in a low oven for a few minutes to soften it back up, or you can just go with the flow and break it up (my choice). Let the brittle cool for another 10 or 15 minutes and you’ll have a lovely treat everyone will be happy to eat!

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