I love making things that have long since fallen out of style. It reminds me of my grandmother manically making a million different candies from scratch in the kitchen. I have no idea what she was making or why that was more important than spending time with her grandchildren but I would sit and watch her while she would ramble vagaries about hardball and softball stages and how she wasn’t really there.
For me this was something close to magical revelation – you could make candy in your own kitchen. Candy. In your own kitchen. Oy vey, the possibilities are endless. The only downside of this memory is that I don’t remember liking the candy. It was too sweet and grainy. Absolutely wrong for a kid to not like candy, I know, but my favorite foods were garlic and blue cheese. And the world had moved on from the pure sugar candy my grandmother had enjoyed when she was a child. But that doesn’t mean that it needs to be forgotten.
I never tried to make my own candy until I was an adult and Marv and I were in Louisiana where he told me that his favorite candy was a praline. You can’t find pralines in Minnesota (and I’m not really sure where he ever had one before) but fueled by these memories of my grandmother, I decided to try. And they were a complete failure. This began my journey into the ways of candy.
That being said, brittle is as easy as it is good when it’s fresh. Just leave the sugar and water alone until you can see and smell the sugar browning. Then get it off the heat, and get the nuts and baking soda mixed in and spread out as quickly as possible and you’re done.
2 c sugar
1 c water
2 – 3 c nuts, roasted and chopped to desired size
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
Put nuts, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and coat a silicon scraper with cooking spray.
Bring water and sugar to a boil over high heat in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Let water boil until the sugar is dissolved then reduce heat to medium-high and let simmer until mixture gets turns cinnamon colored. It will start to turn brown just over 250°f and it will be done between 275°f and 300°f. When it starts getting deeper brown swish the pan a bit to make sure you’re seeing what color it really is.
To make things a bit more interesting I used black pepper cashews from Trader Joe’s.
A candy thermometer is helpful but not necessary for making brittle.
As soon as you decide that the sugar is done, remove from heat and throw in the cashew mixture. Mix quickly and pour onto prepared baking sheet. Spread as thinly as you can and set aside until it cools. Break apart and enjoy.