Monday, January 4, 2010

Cashew Brittle

I'm not sure why, but I've been really learning to like nuts. I only just discovered cashews (and by that I mean I finally tried eating one), and they are surprisingly sweet. I was not expecting that. But they are, and they are pretty good.

So when it came time for a Christmas party at one of my colleague's home, and a house-warming gift was in order, I thought to make something with cashews, specifically cashew brittle.

Now I've had mixed results with making caramel, but I've learned in my experimentations (or rather trial and error) I work best with making caramel from just dry sugar, nothing else. This caramel, I find, is less likely to burn and is more like the caramel I imagine in my head with the actual caramel-ly color rather than a burnt amber color.

So when I found the following recipe, I knew I had a winner. And the best thing is, it will work for any kind of nut: peanut, almond, brazil nut, macadamia, whatever. And it's fast, so it's perfect for a quick gift. The longest part of the process was waiting for it to cool enough to break it into chunks, and during that time, you can be finishing your hair and getting on your shoes. :)

Cashew Brittle
from Pastry Pal
[printable recipe]

This recipe yields almost 2 lbs of hard-to-resist goodness. Like I said, you can substitute any nut or seed. The brittle will keep at room temperature for a couple of weeks if stored in an airtight Ziplock bag or Tupperware box.

2 cups (14oz or 392g) sugar
1 stick (4 oz or 112g) butter, chopped up into small dice
3 cups (about 12 oz or 350g) coarsely chopped cashews (I actually forgot to chop them a little, but it worked out just fine with whole cashews)

1. If your nuts are not roasted, you’ll want to toast them up first for maximum flavor. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and get those nuts in there for 15 minutes, until they’re golden and the fragrance wafts through your kitchen.
2. Let’s caramelize the sugar. Set a light colored pan over medium-high heat (so you can see the change in color), and sprinkle a little of the sugar over the surface. Watch it start to melt.
3. Add more sugar. You can stir to keep the stuff on the bottom and edges from burning. (I actually added all the sugar at once and it worked just fine)
4. Add the remaining sugar, and let all of it melt down and deepen in color. Be patient with the lumps that may form. They will melt away. Stir now and again so the heat is evenly distributed. Once all the sugar is melted, let it continue to darken until you get a nice, deep golden brown color.
5. Working quickly, throw in the butter. It will start to sizzle and melt immediately. Whisk it in with fervor, while being careful to not let it splash back at you. That’s some hot grease! The butter has a tendency to pool and form a slick on the surface. You want to really meld it into the caramel, so keep whisking until it’s all very smooth.
6. Toss in your nuts of choice, then stir it all up until they’re completely coated. It may happen that adding cool nuts to hot caramel will harden pockets of the sugar at first, but keep stirring it over the heat until none of the nuts are naked.
7. Plop the mixture onto a sheet pan lined with a Silpat. You can also use parchment that’s been spritzed lightly with cooking spray.
8. Now quickly spread it out as well as you can before the sugar gets a chance to harden. Let this cool completely (about an hour) and break into chunks.


Y said...

I rarely make brittle at home. It's too dangerously addictive :) I did recently make some salty peanut brittle, and as predicted, it was so addictive I had to give it away. :P