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How to Make Brittle

How to Make Brittle

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Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

For perfectly beautiful brittle, follow our step-by-step guide including how to caramelize sugar for a nutty, rich taste. Peanut brittle is the most classic brittle recipe, but we encourage you to shake things up and try a different nut variety. Almonds are delicately sweet on their own. Pistachios would make a great option, too. Once you master the brittle technique, you can get creative with the ingredients you use and customize your very own brittle recipe.

Why Caramelize Sugar

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Caramelizing is the process of cooking sugar until it browns. When table sugar is heated to high temperatures (about 340°F), it melts and darkens. As it turns from clear to dark amber, the sugar undergoes chemical changes. The sugars break apart and reform new compounds. Caramelizing not only makes foods rich and dark in color but also enhances the taste. Cooking sugar until it melts and becomes a rich amber color creates complex flavors and aromas ranging from nutty and toasty to fruity and mildly bitter. When cooled, the liquefied sugar hardens into a glasslike solid candy. Cooking can also "caramelize" the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables.

1. Combine sugar, water, and lemon.

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

Combine sugar, water, and lemon juice in a heavy saucepan over medium-high. Adding a little water (as opposed to melting dry sugar) gives the sugar time to develop caramel flavors and facilitates even browning. Brush sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to release any sugar crystals that might cling to the pan; this prevents a chain reaction of more crystals re-forming. Acidic lemon juice also inhibits crystallization.

2. Boil without stirring.

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

Boil, without stirring, until amber-colored and a candy thermometer registers 310°F. After it gets to 300°F, sugar has reached the stage at which it will form into hard candy once cooled. As it continues to cook to 310°F, the sugar caramelizes and develops rich flavors. The sugar does continue to brown in the hot pan after coming off the heat, so pour it quickly onto the nuts.

3. Have a jelly-roll pan ready.

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

Have a jelly-roll pan ready, lined with parchment paper coated with cooking spray and sprinkled evenly with nuts and seeds. When the melted sugar cools and hardens, it will adhere to most surfaces—but it does release easily from parchment paper. Oil (from cooking spray) adds another layer of nonstick protection, both on the parchment paper and on the spatula used for spreading the caramelized sugar.

4. Work quickly to spread sugar.

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

Work quickly to spread sugar syrup into a thin layer over the nuts and seeds. Cool completely (about 1 hour), and break brittle into pieces. The brittle is susceptible to moisture, which can make it tacky, so wrap it up in parchment paper and pack into an airtight container. If sharing as a gift, add a note to the recipient to store the container in a cool, dry place for up to one week.

Everything Brittle

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

This brittle is sweet and mildly bitter all at once—owing to the caramel flavor of the cooked sugar. We added everything you’d find on the iconic bagel of the same name except garlic and onion flakes for a nutty-savory-sweet treat. Brittle is very susceptible to moisture, so wrap it up in parchment paper and pack into an airtight container. Store the container in a cool, dry place. This is a decidedly grown-up sweet treat, but you can make it kid-friendly by omitting the poppy seeds and black sesame seeds and stirring in a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

Whipping up a batch of brittle or toffee, like the Almond Croquant shown here, is a fast and fun DIY project where all skill levels will find success. What's more, brittles and toffees make exceptionally good homemade gifts for friends and family near and far. The room temperature shelf-life of a few weeks means there's no worrying about dry ice and best-by dates. Your sweet treats are also sturdy enough to be piled into a tin box, and even if some breakage occurs, no one will be able to tell&mdashunlike a crumbly cookie, these candies look their best when broken into more abstract and jagged pieces.

Though brittle and toffee are a similar kind of candy, there are a couple of distinctions that make each unique. Brittle typically appears translucent and glassy, with a snappy bite and light caramel flavor. There are almost always a ton of nuts or seeds folded into the mix to keep the texture interesting, and only occasionally will a brittle include a little butter. With toffee, butter is an essential ingredient that is used in generous quantities the outcome is an opaquer candy with a toastier flavor and softer crunch. In toffee, nuts are often incorporated, too, but in smaller amounts. It is common for recipes like to complement the buttery caramel flavor of the toffee with a thin layer of tempered chocolate on top.

Before diving in with these 10 unique recipes, here are a few universal tips to keep in mind if you are new to the candy-making game: Use a light-colored saucepan for cooking the sugar mixture so you can keep a close eye on the ever-changing color&mdashit can turn from perfect amber to a bitter black faster than you'd think. To prevent the mixture from potentially bubbling up over the pan, lightly spray the sides of the saucepan with cooking spray. And lastly, using a candy thermometer to gauge when the candy is ready will be a huge help and make the process more goof-proof, but here's a way to pull it off without one: spoon a little of the sugar syrup onto some very icy water. Let it sit for 10 seconds then pull it out. Your mixture is done when you can cleanly break the test piece in half.

Pecan Brittle

In a nonstick saucepan, heat and stir sugar, corn syrup, water and salt over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Over high heat, using a candy thermometer, cook sugar mixture to a hard crack stage (290 °F).

Add pecans and butter and cook to 300 °F stirring all the time to keep the nuts from burning. Pull off heat at 300 °F and stir in baking soda while beating to froth for 30 seconds.

Pour at once on to 4 well buttered 15 1/2 by 10 by 1-inch pans. Spread with a spatula as thin as possible. As the brittle cools you may use gloves to hand stretch the brittle which will give it a better eating quality.

This brittle has a great shelf life, if kept in airtight zip locks or containers it will keep for 2 months.

Paula’s Gift Packaging Tip: I love to junk for little pots and pans. I found this copper one at a store here in Savannah for FIVE dollars! I thought it would be the perfect way to gift my Pecan Brittle. I lined the saucepan with natural parchment paper piled it high with pecan brittle and tied a satin ribbon on the handle. Don’t forget to add the recipe!

Munching Peanut Brittle may be the single best thing you can make in your microwave

The microwave is a very useful tool for cooking, especially when you want to warm leftovers, reheat this morning’s coffee, or melt things like butter or chocolate. But most of us would never think of it as a tool for true confectionary. After all, anyone who has ever tried candy making knows that the process is all about precision timing and exact temperatures and is super finicky and fussy. Too much humidity in the air and your candy won’t set, look away from the pan for just a second and it will burn or boil over. And there is the ever-present fear that you could really burn yourself badly.

Here is a candy recipe that solves all these problems. And it does it by using the microwave!

I first was made aware of this recipe when I was entering my husband’s family recipes into my digital recipe files. Amidst the recipes for gelled “salads” and biscuits, sheet cakes and pot roast, was a tiny card marked “Munching Peanut Brittle.” It had no attribution. The instructions called for it to be made in the microwave. I was intrigued and meant to make it, but then I got distracted by the rest of the project and it left my mind.

Until the pandemic. And then, suddenly, for some reason, I remembered the recipe and pulled it up. Microwave peanut brittle. How could it even work? I had to try.

Turns out it’s about the easiest recipe imaginable, and once I tweaked it a bit for today’s high-powered microwaves and adjusted some of the flavorings, it became one of those recipes I couldn’t stop making. It takes less than ten minutes of active time, and the results are always perfect.

The baking soda is what gives it that “munchable” texture: it makes the mixture foam a bit and traps air so that the brittle isn’t dense or hard but easy to bite and totally satisfying to chomp on. The key is really to stir in the baking soda at the last moment and then pour out onto your pan, and let it flow like lava. Don’t touch it! You can, however, tilt the sheet pan to help it settle if you want.

You can use this technique to make brittle with any nut or seed that you like. Regular roasted peanuts are great, but honey roasted might be my favorite version. You can also try toasted pine nuts or toasted sesame seeds, or even toasted flaked unsweetened coconut, or a mix of nuts and seeds. Or try coating the finished brittle in melted chocolate.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 ounces roasted salted peanuts, cashews, pistachios and/or pecans
  • Fleur de sel or crushed Maldon sea salt

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter and corn syrup and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is light brown and registers 300° on a candy thermometer, 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the nuts, then immediately scrape the brittle onto a large rimmed, nonstick baking sheet. Using the back of a large spoon (oil it lightly if it sticks), spread the brittle into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle with salt. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break the brittle into large shards.

Equipment Used For Making Homemade Candy

Making peanut brittle requires a baking sheet, a saucepan, and a candy thermometer.

✽Candy Thermometer – This is the most paramount equipment when making any candy, such as fudge, toffee, or brittle. Temperatures must be spot on for the recipe to work.

For years I used an inexpensive candy thermometer that clips onto the side of saucepan. This worked to achieve results, but it was very frustrating to work with.

These types of thermometers have to be submerged in the liquid the whole time in order to slowly and gradually read the temperature. This means it won’t read the temp quickly enough to just dip it in time from time.

Plus, it’s awkward to avoid hitting while stirring. So, I’d hold it in place with one hand, while stirring with the other.

Also, clipping the thermometer in place may skew readings. Temperature is measured for that location only.

I upped the ante recently and purchased a Thermapen Mk4, which I’ve been eyeing since it’s always featured in Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen. Best. Purchase. Ever.

This instant read thermometer gauges an absolutely spot on temperature in only two seconds! Therefore, dip in and out periodically instead of holding it in the pan.

A Thermapen has many other uses. Besides candy making, I use my Thermapen for meat temperatures, water temps when proofing yeast, testing oil temperatures for frying, making yogurt, and tempering chocolate.

✽Saucepan – Ideally use a heavy-bottomed saucepan to conduct heat evenly and prevent scorching the sugar. I truly believe great cookware makes an immense difference with results. Personally I use the Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel set, because it’s affordable compared to flashier brands, performs fantastically, and will last a lifetime. I used the Calphalon 2.5 quart saucepan for this recipe.

✽Baking Sheets – Although any baking sheet will do because it’s simply used to cool the peanut candy, Nordic Ware baking sheets are rated the best in Cook’s Illustrated, are very affordable, and great for baking.

How to Store

Peanut Brittle has a long shelf life. It lasts a couple months if properly stored in an airtight container. Simply place brittle in a completely dry container (ie. food storage container, lidded jar, or tin) away from extreme temperatures.

Can It be frozen or refrigerated?

Do not freeze or refrigerate the brittle because of the humidity and moisture. The peanut brittle will become sticky and lose its crunch.

Matzo Brittle

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Plain matzo is the base of this easy brittle: Line a baking sheet with it, pour caramel over it, add chocolate chips and spread them around once they melt, then top with sliced almonds. There’s no fussing over a candy thermometer when making the caramel, and one recipe makes enough to feed a crowd. A sprinkling of fancy fleur de sel adds a savory touch that helps cut through the sweetness.

What to buy: Fleur de sel is a hand-harvested sea salt that is moister than other salts and has a nice crunch and a distinct mineral taste. It can be found at gourmet grocery stores.

Game plan: The matzo brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or refrigerated for up to 1 week.

This dish was featured as part of our Recipes for Passover, as well as our Crazy-Easy Christmas Cookies.

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup salted mixed nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons CHALLENGE salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Since this recipe moves quickly, I recommend you measure out and organize your ingredients before you start the cooking process.
  3. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Add in mixed nuts and stir until combined.
  5. Place a candy thermometer into the mixture and continue cooking, stirring frequently until temperature reaches 300°F.
  6. Immediately remove saucepan from heat and quickly stir in butter, vanilla, and baking soda.
  7. Immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture into a rectangle about 14x12 inches.
  8. Cool completely at room temperature.
  9. Snap candy into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Chocolate ganache & salted caramel brittle

For the ganache, put the chocolate into a large bowl. Heat the cream in a pan until just boiling, then pour it over the chocolate. Leave for 5 mins, then stir until smooth. Put the ganache to one side to thicken and cool, then chill until needed.

For the caramel sauce, heat the sugar and butter in a pan until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. Add the cream, bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

For the brittle, line a baking tray with baking parchment, then put the sugar and 4 tbsp of water in a heavy-based frying pan and heat, without stirring, until golden brown. Stir through the nuts, and pour (in a thin layer) over the parchment. Sprinkle with ½ tsp flaky sea salt and leave to set.

To serve, drizzle each plate with sauce, heat a large spoon in a cup of hot water, then scoop out a curl of chocolate ganache for each plate. Break the brittle into shards and push a piece into each scoop. Sprinkle with crumbled brittle and add a pinch of sea salt.

Peanut Brittle

If you love sugar and you love peanuts, peanut brittle is naturally a treat you should have on hand, always. Thankfully, it's not at all a complicated process, and you can make it right at home&mdashwith or without a candy thermometer!

The most important part of candy making is to make sure your caramel concoction hits that hard-crack stage that happens when your molten sugar reaches 300°F. If you don't have a candy thermometer on hand, watch the video above to see what your sugar mixture should look like at that temperature: deeply golden-amber, and just beginning to give off the slightest wisps of smoke.

For this recipe, the last two steps happen very quickly, so please be sure to read through the whole process before starting to avoid burning the brittle!

Having grown up with sesame brittle, I added some sesame seeds to my version of this brittle for a little more nuttiness and a childhood nostalgic flare&mdashfeel free to skip or substitute in an equal amount of extra peanuts. If you've made this recipe, we'd love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments below!

Watch the video: Τι να κάνω με τα εμπόδιά μου;. Πώς τα υπερπηδώ; (June 2022).