Desserts, Gift Ideas, Holidays / Entertaining

Pistachio Brittle

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.