Wednesday, February 26, 2014

One caramel - many brittles

Brittle is a hard candy made out of caramel and nuts/dried fruits. As you would have guessed by now, it needs only 3 ingredients- sugar,water and nuts. Making caramel is tricky and temperamental, especially for beginners. After burning my sugar couple of times and making horribly crystallized caramel, I have finally nailed making caramel every single time. I do not have a kitchen thermometer. I use bowl filled with cold water, drop little caramel into it and if it forms a hard ball, caramel is ready; if not,give it couple more minutes.

Once you nail the difficult part - i.e making caramel, making brittle is fairly simple. Few key points to remember-
1) Prepare chopped nuts, any flavorings that you want to add in advance and have it ready for the brittle. Caramelized sugar never waits for anyone.
2) If you take long time to mix the flavorings and nuts with caramel (after you remove pan from heat), chances are that you will end up having burnt brittle.
3)  Grease the baking tray / pan in which you want to set your brittle in advance.
4) Do not move far away from the stove while the sugar is caramelizing. Your going away from that pan might just turn your beautiful golden caramel into a burnt mess.
5) Remove caramel from the heat as soon as it starts to change color. Sugar will keep cooking even after removing from heat. Once you get to the color that you are looking for, add everything and stir vigorously just until everything is well mixed. Pour the hot mixture immediately onto a greased plate/tray and let it cool completely before you break it into pieces.
6) Last and most important, when starting to make caramel, stir just until the sugar is dissolved. Avoid stirring after that (stirring can cause crystallization). You can swirl the pan , but never stir until you want to mix the nuts.

Golden caramel ready for mixing of  nuts to make brittle.

1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water

Combine water and sugar into a heavy bottomed pan. Bring it to boil on medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Swirl the pan until sugar starts to change the color. Remove from heat once you see brownish color to the mixture. Sugar will keep cooking and reach the beautiful color in the picture. Caramel is done.

Now onto brittle. Proportions are given for the caramel of 1 and 1/2 cup  sugar. General guideline is to take 1 to 1 and 1/4 cup of nuts / dried fruit for 1 and 1/2 cup sugar. Don't go overboard with the nuts , that makes it difficult to coat everything with the caramel.

1) Orange-Cranberry-Almond brittle
Substitute water with freshly squeezed orange juice to make caramel. Once the color is achieved, remove from heat and add 2 tb spoon orange zest, 1/2 cup chopped roasted unsalted almonds, 1/2 cup chopped cranberries, 1 tb spoon butter and 1/2 tea sp baking soda. Baking soda helps to make a "brittle" brittle. Stir everything to combine and pour immediately onto a greased plate/pan. Sprinkle 1/2 tea sp. coarse sea salt and cool to set. Break into pieces and enjoy!

2) Sesame seeds
Caramel made out of 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sesame seeds
1 tb spoon butter
1/2 tea sp baking soda
1 tea spoon ground ginger + 1/2 tea spoon cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tea spoon salt

Possibilities are endless when it comes to brittle. I am listing few of my favorites apart from the above.
1.Peanuts with cardamom powder
2.pecan with vanilla extract
3. Pistachios and cashews

It takes anywhere form 1-2 hours for brittle to set. Or if you are impatient like me, put brittle pan into the refrigerator and it will set quickly (in 20 minutes).


  1. Oh cool!!! I will be trying it soon! I love making chikki with jaggery and sugar both.