Monday, December 18, 2006

Nut Brittle

This nut brittle was made for gifts for friends. It was so easy and so much fun to break. But beware of very hot melted sugar. It can be scary stuff. I used pecans, cashews and hazelnuts becaus that is what I had in my freezer. Martha Stewart featured this recipe as part of her home-made gifts series. She suggested you buy a small baking sheet and give the brittle with a tiny hammer, letting the recipient break it herself. It's a cute idea.

Nut Brittle Block

Makes one 9-by-13-inch pan

unsalted butter, softened, for baking sheet
vegetable oil, for spatula

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups unsalted nuts, such as dry-roasted peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds or pecans, or toasted pumpkin seeds
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda

Brush a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with butter, and oil an offset spatula; set aside. Put sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture registers 238° on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage). Stir in nuts, and continue to cook, stirring often so that the nuts do not burn, until the mixture is medium amber in color, 10 to 15 minutes.
Carefully stir in vanilla and baking soda (the mixture will foam up). Pour onto prepared baking sheet, and using oiled offset spatula, quickly spread into a 1/2-inch-thick layer. Let cool completely. Break brittle into pieces if desired; store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 month.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Holiday Handmade Gifts, December 2006. When giving as a gift, package this brittle block with cellophane, and include a small hammer and bow.

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