Whether it be Italian meringues, decorative sugarwork, or caramel, boiling sugar brings me back to my days in pastry school. I have this image in my head of 14 students leaning over induction units, pots filled with boiling sugar, staring at candy thermometers. Sometimes we'd be standing and staring for 10 minutes watching the color change and the temperature ever so slowly creep up. It seems like the second you glanced away your thermometer would go haywire and, voila, ruined sugar.
Today I can usually tell what stage I'm at in the sugar cooking process without a thermometer. But old habits die hard and you can still find me staring at my thermometer while working with sugar!
In my opinion, Nut Brittle is one of the most wonderful creations using boiled sugar. I found a recipe on Food & Wine website titled the "Best-Ever Nut Brittle" and I have to admit that after making it I agree with the author's title. The recipe is quite similar to most except it uses a little more butter and although the brittle is a perfect crack the butter seems to add some 'creaminess' to it. I used an extra 2 ounces of nuts than the recipe calls for as for me the most important part about nut brittle is the nuts (the extra 2 ounces consisted of shelled pistachios for extra color).
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 oz. unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 12 oz roasted, salted nuts (peanuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans)
- Dash of sea salt
- Combine sugar, water, butter in corn syrup in a large saucepan and bring to a boil (cook over medium-high heat) until the caramel registers 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer (approximately 10 minutes).
- Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda (the mixture will bubble).
- Stir in the nuts, then immediately scape mixture onto a large rimmed nonstick baking sheet.
- Using the back of a large spoon spread the brittle into a thin, even layer.
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Let cool about 30 minutes and break into pieces.