Pistachio Brittle

December 13, 2011 · 15 comments · Print This Post

in Desserts, Gift Ideas, Holidays / Entertaining

Until last week the only type of brittle I’d ever made was my mom’s microwave version. I documented it on this blog in a furious tizzy years ago after I was woken up by the troop of fools who used to shovel snow and hack away at ice in our apartment community at ungodly hours of the morning.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that shortcut recipe, but I do have to wonder why the shortcut was invented when making actual brittle with a candy thermometer takes pretty much the same amount of time and attention to detail? I found that I was able to stand around reading trashy books on my Kindle while watching the digital face register 300° just as easily as if I had left the concoction in the microwave whirling in a circle. Hooray for lazy recipes! As an aside, looking back at the images I captured of the microwaved process, I’m shocked that the bowl I used didn’t explode as I’m pretty sure it was from The Christmas Tree store and was not microwave proof in the least. Bad past Erin! Bad!

Anyway, the color of this “properly made” brittle is a lovely caramel shade and I found the green and red contrast from the pistachios to be an appropriate festive bonus. I was also excited to use some of the funky sea salts that I received in a Foodzie Tasting Box ages ago. The sea salt, in my opinions, takes this recipe from ho-hum to super fa-la-la-la. Not to mention that I took great pleasure in smashing the smooth slab of candy into sharp and tasty shards. In addition, nut brittle (unlike finicky cookies) ships fantastically so my family in far-flung places should expect to receive some of this very soon.

Pistachio Brittle

Originally published in Food & Wine by Tina Ujlaki

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces roasted salted pistachios (but you could also use peanuts, cashews, and/or pecans)
Fleur de sel or crushed Maldon sea salt

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter and corn syrup and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is light brown and registers 300° on a candy thermometer, 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the nuts, then immediately scrape the brittle onto a large rimmed, nonstick baking sheet. Using the back of a large spoon (oil it lightly if it sticks), spread the brittle into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle with salt. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break the brittle into large shards.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Adrienne December 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm



2 Erin December 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Ha ha — glad you’re so enthusiastic about it. It was drop dead good. I had to send the first batch to Chris’s office or I would have chowed down the whole thing. Miss you!


3 Kristen December 14, 2011 at 9:10 am

This looks so delicious and I appreciate your use of “fa la-la-la”. 🙂


4 Melissa Lawler December 14, 2011 at 10:47 am

I can’t wait to try this one!


5 Lauren Blau December 15, 2011 at 6:37 am

Try cooking this longer, till it’s almost burnt. The flavor is many times more complex and delicious.


6 EB December 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

Which candy thermometer do you use. I’m finally breaking down and getting one, just not sure which to go with.


7 Erin December 19, 2011 at 10:14 am

A ha ha ha candy thermometer… you’d think I’d have one but you know what I use? My digital Taylor thermometer (http://tinyurl.com/6wn3tte) stuck onto the old holder for a cheep-o candy thermometer that disappeared during one of our moves. Classy, right?! Ah well…it does the trick 😉


8 Blythe December 20, 2011 at 5:56 pm

I just made this!

It was my first time ever making candy, and I didn’t have a thermometer, so I used the cold water test which I found at this URL -> http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/sugar-stages.html

It’s so difficult to wait for this to cool completely! I keep taking taste tests. I also couldn’t spread it very thin, but I’m sure it will still be good.


9 Erin December 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm


You’re very brave for using the cold water test! I also found spreading the brittle to be cumbersome. I’ve made the recipe four times in the last two weeks and my best “flattened” result was via using a few less nuts (about 8 or 9 ounces). But then my boyfriend said he liked it better with the full nut ration. Go figure 🙂 Honestly, I don’t think you have to get it that flat, but using a spatular coated with butter or pam will help. I just kept pressing and pressing. It’s thankfully a pretty forgiving recipe aesthetics wise. Enjoy your treat!


10 Brit December 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

I’m waitingggggg! haha I to thoroughly enjoyed the use of ” fa lalala” Miss you and love you!


11 Erin December 21, 2011 at 9:53 am

I predict that the delicious package should arrive tomorrow. Keep an eye out for the mail man 😉

Miss you too!!



12 David Cancel December 18, 2013 at 1:24 pm

WOW! I just had a piece, amazing!!

You are amazing Erin!


13 Erin December 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Thanks David! So I did buy a huge bag of almond flour to play around with. After the break there should be some gluten-free edibles coming 🙂

Happy holidays!


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