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PicSpam - Candy (Peanut and Sesame Seed Brittle) [Oct. 21st, 2012|02:48 pm]
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For some reason I have had a sweet craving lately. As I've mentioned before, candy making is one of my big failings. I have a candy thermometer. In fact, I have two. But, regardless of that fact, I find that I depend on the trusty small glass of ice cold water and a metal spoon to decide when the candy is 'done' ie, soft/hard ball, hard crack stage.

Another reason I probably have problems with making candy is that I make it so rarely that by the time I want to make it again, I've forgotten all the little 'tips and tricks' I've learned to make it come out right.

Brittle (clockwise from the top) - dark peanut, black and white sesame seed, pale peanut with melted chocolate drizzle.

In the last 16-18 hrs, I've made 3 batches of brittle.

The first batch (peanut brittle) got a bit darker than I would have liked, cause I was using the stupid candy thermometer and trying to get it to register 300 deg F before I went to the cup of cold water to find that it was ready. In the haste of getting the butter, peanuts and then baking soda into the pan after I took it off the heat, I forgot to put my baking sheet on a cooling rack ... almost melting the VERY inexpensive vinyl tablecloth I had on my kitchen table. :) PS: DO NOT use a dark saucepan to cook the syrup in as you won't be able to tell if your syrup has reached that golden/amber colour so you can start testing it.

The sesame seed brittle, using a combination of white and black sesame seeds, because I ran out of white sesame seeds, turned out much better, but making it had its challenges too. You can't drop JUST the 'syrup' part of the brittle into the cold water to check for the hard crack because you're cooking the sesame seeds in the mixture at the same time. So you end up with chunks of nuts/syrup. Judging by colour is almost impossible as you can barely SEE the syrup around the sesame seeds. So I went by the browning of the white sesame seeds. I think making just black sesame seed brittle would present even MORE challenges.

The last batch (peanut brittle again) was JUST at the hard crack stage when I added the butter and peanuts (omitting the baking soda) resulting in a boringly pale brittle. So, I had to decorate it with some leftover melted chocolate to make it look nicer. Next time, I'd cook the peanuts in the syrup for another couple/few minutes before pouring the brittle. I only made a half batch of this test brittle as I forgot why I had made a note in my recipe not to use the baking soda.

Peanut Brittle (other nuts may be substituted)

1 cup white sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup peanuts, blanched, unsalted and split into halves
1 tablespoons butter, softened (plus more to butter cookie sheet)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Butter a large cookie sheet or line with a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside, preferably on a cooling rack, to help the finished brittle cool faster.

USE A LIGHT COLOURED SAUCEPAN so that you can see the colour of the syrup clearly.

In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, over medium heat (5 on an electric range), bring to a boil sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water. Make sure you pour the water around the margins of the pan so as to wash down all of the sugar that may be on the edges. You may swirl the pan GENTLY until sugar is dissolved but DO NOT STIR.

Set candy thermometer in place, if you have one, and continue cooking. DO NOT STIR mixture and cook until temperature reaches 300 degrees F (150 degrees C), or until a small amount of the hot mixture dropped into very cold water (water with an ice cube in it) separates into hard and brittle threads. This will take 5-10 minutes, usually.

The syrup should be a golden colour similar to honey at this point. It will continue cooking while you add the butter etc.

Remove from heat; immediately stir in the butter, peanuts and baking soda; pour at once onto the cookie sheet. Cool. Snap candy into pieces.

NOTE: I found that a silicone spatula works quite well for stirring in the nuts etc in preference to a wooden spoon.

NOTE 2: Adding a small amount of baking soda to the hot mixture right before pouring it out will cause the mixture to foam up a bit, as the baking soda reacts with the acid from the caramelization of the sugar. This creates bubbles of carbon dioxide which helps produce a slightly lighter, more porous texture for the brittle, making it easier to eat.

Sesame Seed Brittle (~10 ounces of brittle)

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 tbsp water
1 cup raw sesame seeds, preferably white
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

Put the sugar, honey, salt, nutmeg, and water into a small (1 1/2 quart), thick-bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium heat (5 on an electric range) until the sugar has melted without stirring. Then, as quickly as possible stir in the raw sesame seeds.

Cook the sesame seed mixture, without stirring if possible, until the mixture turns an amber caramel color, about 5 to 10 minutes.

If you have a candy thermometer, the temp should be 300°F. At this point, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and the butter. Once the butter has completely melted into the mixture, stir in the baking soda. The mixture will foam up a bit after you stir in the baking soda, as the baking soda reacts with the acid from the caramelization of the sugar.

Pour the mixture out onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet. (If you don't have Silpat, no worries, pour directly onto a metal baking sheet that has been rubbed with butter or lined with parchment paper .) Once completely cooled and hardened (about 15-20 minutes), break into pieces or using a large sharp knife cut into 1 1/2" strips and then squares.

Final problem ... I have all this candy and no one to eat it cause I'm NOT going to eat it by myself.


I'm NOT!! (whimper)

[User Picture]From: accioslash
2012-10-21 07:42 pm (UTC)


I'm trying to recall if I ever made brittle....I don't think so. But these batches look amazing. And, yeah, I never use a candy thermometer. The old cup of water works better for me. *shrugs*
[User Picture]From: a_boleyn
2012-10-21 08:22 pm (UTC)


Sometimes the old ways are best. :)
From: (Anonymous)
2012-10-22 08:01 am (UTC)


Do you feel better? I suppose yes because making candies is not five-minute work! I am really impressed. They all look gorgeous. Sissi (
[User Picture]From: a_boleyn
2012-10-22 10:13 am (UTC)


Thanks, I actually DO feel better.

Brittle actually only takes about 15 min to make. And, while the first pan soaked to get rid of the hard candy, I measured out the ingredients for the 2nd batch. Didn't even have to dry the saucepan. :)

Edited at 2012-10-22 10:13 am (UTC)
[User Picture]From: OrgasmicChef
2012-10-22 08:18 am (UTC)


I knew I wouldn't be alone with a sweet tooth. My husband doesn't have one so I either have to eat it all or give it away so I can make something new.
[User Picture]From: a_boleyn
2012-10-22 10:10 am (UTC)


LOL. Giving it away works best for me.
2012-10-22 09:10 am (UTC)


Nothing reminds me of halloween like your sweet sweet delicious candy :D
Great job!

Choc Chip Uru
[User Picture]From: a_boleyn
2012-10-22 10:17 am (UTC)


The orange-y peanut, and the black and gold sesame brittles ARE a bit Halloween themed, aren't they? I never realized. :)
From: (Anonymous)
2012-10-22 11:49 am (UTC)


Wow! I think you look like a great baker of brittle. Well done because I don't think making brittle is easy. I also don't make it very often and i also have a few candy thermometers. The peanut brittle looks especially delicious xx
[User Picture]From: a_boleyn
2012-10-22 06:56 pm (UTC)


Thank you for the compliments. Cooking the syrup once it's reached the hard crack stage to just the RIGHT colour is difficult and something I'm still working on. I liked the look and flavour of the sesame brittle better though if I were to make it again, I'd stick to just white sesame seeds. :)
From: (Anonymous)
2012-10-23 02:31 am (UTC)


These all look amazing Maria! Whatever you do, please don't show these pictures to the ponytails! They love peanut brittle and they'll want me to make this for sure...but I have absolutely no experience in making it. Can I trade you some pumpkin muffins for some brittle?
(Barb @ Profiteroles & Ponytails)
[User Picture]From: a_boleyn
2012-10-23 02:50 am (UTC)


Making peanut brittle is very simple ... once you bring the sugar syrup to the proper temperature. And the ingredients are cheap too. :) But I'll keep mum about it.

I'd love to trade you the brittle for the muffins cause I know I'd be getting the better end of the deal. :)
From: (Anonymous)
2012-10-23 05:58 pm (UTC)


I'll trade you some of that sesame brittle! I love this stuff but like you I don't make it often because I am not going to eat it! JT isn't a huge fan.
This is why blogging or journalling your recipes with the tips are such a great tool.
[User Picture]From: a_boleyn
2012-10-23 06:10 pm (UTC)


I'd be happy to send the sesame seed brittle your way. :)

I scaled down the peanut brittle recipe (halved it in fact) so it would be similar in amount to the sesame seed one. This way, you don't make TOO much and I think it keeps for a while.

Luckily I'm not able to get out of the house or I'd be shopping for whipping cream and pecans cause I just got a craving for pralines. Something else I haven't made in ages.
From: (Anonymous)
2012-10-23 06:01 pm (UTC)


I know I said I'm not making this bit damn you, it looks so YUMMY. I may have to break down, my friend's kid is acing a bake sale (aka boss, neighbour). I bet she would love it.
[User Picture]From: a_boleyn
2012-10-23 06:05 pm (UTC)


LOL. I hope she does. Have fun making it.
From: Zsuzsa E
2012-10-23 06:36 pm (UTC)


I just used mine yesterday and it was off too.
What a lovely group of confections!
[User Picture]From: a_boleyn
2012-10-23 07:30 pm (UTC)


Re: the candy thermometer
I think the small amount of syrup being measured and the stirring which kept introducing air/cooling off the candy all contributed to the inaccuracy of the temp reading.

Additionally, stirring the candy, which some recipes say you should do, actually promoted recrystallizing of the sugar. All these things just make candy making more complicated. :( But it's quite good when you get a successful batch.
[User Picture]From: Namiko Chen
2012-10-27 04:46 am (UTC)


Homemade candies! Wow how could I stop eating when these are in the kitchen. It sounds very impossible. :) I always love crunchy candies than chewy kind. Sesame seed brittle looks so good!
[User Picture]From: a_boleyn
2012-10-27 05:22 am (UTC)


I've been nibbling at the peanut brittle. :) I find the mixed black and white sesame seed brittle a bit too 'dark/rich' flavoured. I think I'd prefer an all white sesame seed version.
[User Picture]From: Charles Smith
2012-10-28 09:56 pm (UTC)


Never tried making brittle myself - wouldn't mind trying it out with hazelnuts and/or peanuts I think - that must be nice. For the golden colour of the sugar - all my saucepans are dark (oh, actually, that's not true, but I don't use my steel-lined copper ones for candy making). I don't know if you have a cooker hood with a light in the top - I find turning on the light really helps you see the colour better, although I always use my trusty thermometer in any case.
[User Picture]From: a_boleyn
2012-10-28 10:05 pm (UTC)


It's hard to judge how dark the melted sugar has gotten when your pan is dark regardless of how much light you've got in your kitchen. :) And I have NO luck with thermometers so I need to go old school with a glass of cold water to judge the temperature of the sugar.
From: (Anonymous)
2012-11-05 07:23 am (UTC)


Yum. This looks fabulous, especially the black sesame seed version! I have a huge jar of black sesame seeds in the fridge so may have to give these a go.
Gosh, Livejournal makes it tricky to post a comment!
Cheers, Saskia.
[User Picture]From: a_boleyn
2012-11-05 08:14 am (UTC)


I found the flavour of the mixed sesame seed brittle quite heavy. I think I'd prefer the lighter flavour of an all white sesame seed version in the future.

I'm glad you persisted. :) Thank you for visiting and commenting.