Deron's Brittle

Peanut or Cashew

Summary

Yields approx. 2 square feet. Takes about 40 minutes.

Hardware

  • candy or digital thermometer
  • heavy-bottomed deep saucepan, 3 Qt capacity
  • large silicone baking mat, marble slab, or other heat-proof surface. Preferably 16 x 24 inches.
  • stiff wooden spoon or silicone spatula (non-metal)

Ingredients

14 oz (1¾ cup)nuts, unsalted (peanut or cashew)
14 oz (1¾ cup)sugar
10 oz (1¼ cup)light corn syrup
6 oz (¾ cup)water
3 oz (⅓ cup)light corn syrup
1 oz (2 tbsp)butter
2 tspsalt (adjust if nuts are pre-salted)
1 tspvanilla extract
2 tspbaking soda

Special instructions

Substitutions: Most nuts may be used, though larger nuts may need to be chopped into smaller pieces. Also be aware that nuts with a higher percentage of fat content may burn easier. If using pre-salted nuts, you may need to reduce the amount of additional salt you add.

Corn syrup: You may replace part or all of the corn syrup with honey, dark corn syrup, or other invert-sugar solution in equal parts; though this will change the neutral flavor of light corn syrup. Substitutions may also change the texture somewhat or make the resulting brittle sticky. You may also reduce the amount of corn syrup used, though more careful attention must be paid to prevent agitation or premature sugar crystalization, which will result in a grainy or sandy texture. Note that “corn syrup” is not the same thing as the HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) commonly used in manufactured products.

Rainy days: brittle can be tempermental to make on rainy or highly-humid days. If cooking in high humidity increase cooking temperatures by an additional 2 or 3 °F. However pay close attention to the color, when the mixture starts turning a darker brown you will very quickly pass into the territory of making carmel, not brittle.

Safety: Cooked sugar solutions are extremely dangerous and can cause instant burns. If the solution begins to boil over, simply lift the pan from the stove and then reduce the heat level. Sugar retains heat for a long time, so always check with a thermometer before touching.

Storage: The finished brittle should be kept at room temperature in a container that is not air-tight so moisture may escape. Never refrigerate brittle or it will become sticky.

Preparation

Be sure to measure and set aside all ingredients before starting. The last few steps of the process will happen very quickly.

  • Chop nuts if necessary, depending on how large you want the pieces. Cashews especially work better when split in half along their natural center line.
  • Place the mat or slab on a flat and clear workspace.
  • Secure thermometer with a clip into the saucepan so the probe does not touch the pan bottom.
  • Read the instructions through first, some steps are time sensitive and will occur quickly.

Instructions

1. In the saucepan combine: sugar, corn syrup, and water.

2. Over medium-high heat bring to boil, while stirring slowly and continuously.

3. When mixture reaches a boil, stop stirring. Watch for the formation of sugar crystals on the sides. If you see crystals forming, wipe down with water or place a lid on the pan for 30 seconds so the steam will naturally wash the sides.

4. Wait until mixture reaches 264 °F (129 °C). Add nuts and salt; and start continuously and slowly stirring to keep the nuts from charring.

5. Gently stir until the mixture reaches 318 °F (159 °C). Turn off heat.

6. Add the butter and vanilla, and stir a few seconds until incorporated. Be cautious of steam and splatters.

7. Add the baking soda, and stir vigorously for a few seconds until the mixture lightens and turns foamy.

8. Immediately pour the mixture out onto the mat or slab. With a spoon or spatula attempt to spread the mixture into an even and thin layer. You will only have 30 seconds or so before it will cool and become unworkable.

9. Wait until the brittle completely cools, at least an hour. Then break into pieces.