If you are looking to give a homemade food gift this year, but don’t have too much time, this is the perfect gift to give. A sweet, slightly salty, buttery nut crunch (yes, all that in one!) that is one of the easiest, and quickest candies to make. Who doesn’t love candy, especially when it’s homemade?
Start to tasty finish is done in about an hour. Really.
I packed brittle into cellophane bags with ribbon, then placed them into holiday tins for gift-giving. What’s nice about brittle is that it stores well for a long time, and ships well. Aside from being addictive. I made cashew brittle, using corn syrup, a more traditional flavor. For the peanut brittle I used coconut nectar, which gave a deep caramel flavor. You decide which you think those lucky recipients would love.
Makes about 4 pounds
You will need a candy thermometer
2 cups cane sugar
1/2 cup water
1 stick (4 ounces) non dairy butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/3 cup coconut nectar (blonde), OR light corn syrup (non-gmo preferably)
1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
12 ounces raw, or roasted low-sodium peanuts, or cashews (or any nut or seed you prefer)
1 tablespoon, or so coconut oil, or earth balance to lightly grease baking sheet
In a large saucepan with a candy thermometer attached, combine the sugar, water, non dairy butter and coconut nectar (or corn syrup) and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring once, until the caramel is light brown, about 10-20 minutes depending on the stovetop heat.
UPDATED NOTE: Meanwhile, lightly grease 2 large rimmed baking sheets or non stick pans. I use an All-Clad stainless steel 1/2 sheet sized baking pan. Two, just in case you are adding more nuts, which could increase the volume of the brittle and will seize up as it cools while preparing another sheet pan so be prepared. I don’t want that to happen to you!
Note: There will be no time to prepare anything once the sugar reaches 300 degrees F.
It will look foamy, with many airy bubbles. Turn off heat at exactly 300 degrees F and carefully stir in the baking soda with a rubber spatula. Do not use a whisk, it will just clump in the center. The mixture will immediately become lighter in color where you added the baking soda and will appear foamy. Keep stirring until it is all foamy and lighter in color. Immediately add in the nuts to combine well then scrape out the brittle onto the baking sheet. Spread out evenly into a thin, even layer.
Note: Once adding the nuts, work quickly to transfer onto your baking sheet. The sugar will harden quickly when exposed to air.
Let cool completely, about 30-40 minutes. Break the brittle into large shards. Can keep in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks.
Note: Regarding coconut nectar vs. corn syrup: the only noticeable difference I found was that the coconut sugar mixture was darker at 300 F. Both reached 300 F at about the same time and hardened at about the same time, about 30 minutes.
Note: The first crack is not easy to do by hand. I pressed the tip of a steak knife onto the brittle and hit the top of the knife with a book. When I got a crack going through an area I pulled pieces by hand.
Here are step-by-step photos from my cashew brittle preparation. I used corn syrup for this brittle.
See on the cashew brittle the melted coconut oil along the side of the baking sheet?
This will dissolve when brittle hardens …
See the dry edges here? You will know it’s ready when the edges are dry.
Here is the peanut brittle, a deeper brown color … I made this today and the cashew one yesterday. Enjoy!
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