Hazelnut and Almond Brittle

Because it’s not slathered in chocolate or piled high with toppings, I always forget how utterly delicious and super addictive nut brittle is.  This nut brittle recipe is proof that keeping it simple is super.  I used whole hazelnuts and almonds, but you can use nearly any nut you like.  One of my favorite things about this recipe is that although the brittle is hard, once you bite into it, it has an airiness and light crunch to it, and the richness of the nuts provides a good contrast to the sweet caramelized sugar.  I’ve been told that this brittle was so delicious that people fought over the crumbs.

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Hazelnut and Almond Brittle

Makes one 11 x 17 inch sheet
(from Chocolates and Confections at Home with The Culinary Institute of America by Peter P. Greweling)
My notes are in [ ] below.

Ingredients

1 pound (2 cups) sugar
4 ounces (1 1/2 cup) water
12 ounces (1 cup) light corn syrup
1 pound (3 cups) [I’ve used 13-14 ounces of nuts too, and it didn’t seem to skimpy] unsalted hazelnuts, almonds, or other nut that you like [skin on is OK]
1 teaspoon salt
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) butter, unsalted, soft
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions

  1. Line a large sheet pan [I prefer an 11×17 inch pan so that the brittle isn’t too thick and difficult to bite into.  The orginal recipe recommends a 10×15-inch sheet pan.] with parchment paper [making sure the parchment paper goes up the sides of the pan], or you can lightly oil it [I prefer using parchment because it makes for super easy clean up and it doesn’t add any extra flavors and grease like oil can].
  2. Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant rubber spatula.  Cover and boil for 4 minutes. [This helps melt the sugar crystals that may be clinging to the side of the pan]
  3. Remove the cover, insert a thermometer, and cook without stirring to 240°F. [It should be a very light brown color.  You’ll have to experiment a little with this, as the brittle is more flavorful as it darkens, but you also run the risk of the brittle burning if you brown it too much.]
  4. Add the nuts, and cook while stirring to 320°F [make sure to stir often to ensure the nuts do not burn], or until the batch is light brown [My batch started to brown around 310°F, so make sure to keep an eye on it.  Also, the brittle will darken up when you add the remaining ingredients, so it’s OK if it starts out very lightly browned.].
  5. Remove the pan from heat, and quickly mix in the salt, butter, vanilla, and baking soda thoroughly.  Be careful as the ingredients will bubble up as you add them.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and spread to the edges using an offset spatula. [The texture may seem a little puffy and difficult to spread, but it will settle down it cools.  Just try to make the top as even as possible.  Also, try to keep the brittle from going too far up the  sides of the parchment paper.]
  7. Allow the brittle to cool to room temperature.  Break into the desired pieces. [Depending on what size pan you use and how thick the brittle is, you can use different methods to break the brittle into pieces.  When the brittle is thick, I use a meat tenderizer to break up the brittle.  But that also creates a lot of “wasted” tiny pieces of brittle, which can be used for ice cream topping or sprinkling over other desserts.  I prefer to break the brittle up with my hands as I can control the size better, which is why I use an 11 x 17 inch pan as the brittle is just the right thickness for me.]

[Notes: The brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks.

Since this recipe is so versatile, feel free to experiment with different nut combinations. I like pairing almonds with pecans since they have different textures.  I’ve also experimented with adding 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (I add it during Step 5 of the cooking process)  which adds a slight but noticeable cinnamon flavor, and walnuts are a good nut to companion for cinnamon.]

 

 

 

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