Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cashew Brittle

Every year, I make some type of brittle or candy for my father-in-law for Christmas. This time, I decided to make cashew brittle, since it's his favorite nut. And I decided to make these REALLY nutty. Because that's how I roll.

The recipe for brittles is pretty flexible. I've made them with brown sugar or white. I've added butter or not. I've used more or less corn syrup. I've even made some with no corn syrup, but it tends to crystallize quicker, so you can't store it as long.

But as long as you heat it to the hard crack stage, you'll end up with a nice brittle. That's almost more important than the ingredients. Well, you do need sugar.

Speaking of sugar, I used a raw cane sugar. The chunks were bigger than regular granulated white sugar, but it melted just fine, anyway.

Some recipes suggest that you shouldn't stir at certain points in the process, which keeps the sugar from re-crystallizing after it melts. But ... I tend to poke and prod and stir, so the corn syrup is pretty necessary for me.

I picked up a couple of silicone molds that are meant for making brittles and barks - I thought it would make a really cool presentation. Since I didn't want the brittle to be super-thick, I used two of the molds for this one batch of brittle.

After I took the brittle out of the molds, I had some fun with them and filled in some of the lettering with melted white chocolate, so it would be more prominent.

At first, I was trying to neatly fill the letters, but then I realized it would be easier to simply spread the chocolate on, then scrape it off, letting it fill in the holes. Since there were some holes and imperfections in the surface of the brittle, I ended up with white dots ... I actually thought it looked kind of nice - like falling snow.

What do you think?

Cashew Brittle

2 cups raw cane sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound cashews, chopped roughly

In a large saucepan (nonstick is nice for for easier cleaning) heat the sugar, corn syrup, and water, stirring as needed until the sugar melts. Continue heating to a boil. Add the butter and stir.

Place a candy thermometer in the pan, making sure it's in the sugar.

Heat to 280 degrees, then add the nuts. Stir. The mixture will thicken a lot when the cool nuts hit the hot sugar, and the sugar temp will probably also drop. Continue cooking, stirring continuously to keep the sugar or cashews from burning, until the temperature reaches 305 degrees. Add the baking soda and stir. The mixture will foam up.

Pour the mixture into the silicone molds or onto one or more baking sheets lined with silicone mats.

Spread or stretch the candy, as needed. Let it cool completely, then break into chunks.

If you're using the molds, you can fill the lettering with melted chocolate and let it harden. Or not.

Non-Disclaimer: The silicone molds are made by Good Cook, but I didn't receive these for free - I bought them at the grocery store.