This recipe almost didn’t get made. It was the last one I got to on my day of candy making, and I tried to talk myself out of it. I was tired and there was already plenty of candy around. But I’m not good at changing my plans once they’re set, plus I didn’t know what else to do with all the pumpkin seeds.
And you know what, I’m glad I made it. This was definitely the easiest of the recipes I made last week. A few ingredients are mixed and then cooked, some other ingredients are added, and then you’re basically done – just pour the mixture out, flatten it, and break off pieces.
There are a couple of points where my OCDness needed some more instructions. One is the wide range of salt – between 2 and 4.5 teaspoons? And that just depends on whether you use salted or unsalted butter? I have a hard time believing that 1 stick of salted butter has 2.5 teaspoons of salt. I think I used 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) salt with unsalted butter, and the brittle is on the salty side, but in a good way. I think it’s perfect.
The other issue was how long to cook it. Deb blithely claims that no candy thermometer is necessary – just cook it until it’s medium golden! Um. Yeah. I need to know a temperature. Fortunately, one of her commenters mentioned cooking it to 290 degrees or a little above that, and that worked out perfectly for me.
The brittle was very good – sweet, salty, crackly but easy to bite through. All that for just a few minutes of effort. I wish all the candy I made last week had been so easy.
Pepita Brittle (from Smitten Kitchen, who has all sorts of other sources for it)
Vegetable-oil spray or 1 teaspoon butter, for lining the tray
2 cups sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted or unsalted butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons to 1½ tablespoons coarse or flaky sea salt (use less if you’re using salted butter)
1½ cups of raw, unroasted pepitas (they toast in the syrup) or 12 ounces (¾ pound) roasted, salted nuts, not chopped
1. Line a 12 x 16 x ½-inch sheet baking pan with parchment paper and lightly coat it with vegetable spray or butter.
2. Put the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons water to a large saucepan, and stir together until all the sugar is wet. Cook over high medium-high, but watch it carefully as it will foam up quite a bit and you might need to dial back the heat to medium until it begins to thicken.
3. Once the mixture turns a medium golden (takes at least 10 minutes) immediately remove from the heat, and carefully whisk in the baking soda followed by the salt (taking care, as the caramel will rise in the pan and bubble some more). Switch to a wooden or metal spoon, and fold in the pepitas or nuts.
4. Quickly pour the mixture onto the sheet pan, and spread it out over the pan using the back of the spoon before it starts to harden. Alternately, you can slide the parchment paper out of the baking pan and onto a counter, cover it with another sheet, and use a rolling pin, pressing down hard, to roll it out as flat and thin as you would like.
5. At this point you can either let it cool completely (pulling off the top sheet of parchment, if you use the rolling pin technique) and break it into bite-size pieces with the back of a knife or other blunt object or, while it is still fairly hot and pliable, cut it into a shape of your choice and let the pieces cool, separated on parchment paper. The brittle can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, for up to two weeks.