Food column: Sweet-and-salty pistachio brittle hits the spot
April 13, 2013
If you're looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth, consider this Salted Pistachio Brittle. It was the first recipe I tried from the January edition of Bon Appétit. At the time, I had a bag of unsalted, shelled pistachios that I was looking to incorporate into a recipe.
When I think of making candy, I think of the mishaps I've had while attempting different recipes — most of which involved some sort of sugar syrup. I've learned from the mistakes, but also mentally prepare for frustration whenever I plan to tackle a new candy recipe.
I had never made brittle before, so I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but that mental preparation wasn't needed for this straightforward recipe. Watch the temperature of the mixture closely and you'll be OK. If you don't like pistachios, this recipe would also work well with peanuts or cashews. The best part is that it cools quickly, so it can be made for a same-day treat.
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup unsalted, shelled raw natural pistachios, very coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Coarse gray sea salt (such as fleur de sel or sel gris)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; spray with nonstick spray and set aside. Whisk sugar, corn syrup, and 3 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Fit saucepan with candy thermometer, bring mixture to a boil, and cook until thermometer registers 290 degrees, about 3-4 minutes.
Using a heatproof spatula, stir in pistachios, butter, and kosher salt (syrup will seize initially, but will melt as it heats back up). Continue to cook syrup, stirring often, until thermometer registers 300 degrees and pistachios are golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Caramel should be pale brown (it will darken slightly as it cools). Sprinkle baking soda over and stir quickly to blend caramel thoroughly (mixture will bubble vigorously).
Immediately pour caramel onto prepared baking sheet and, using a heat-proof spatula, quickly spread out as thin as possible. Sprinkle sea salt over and let caramel cool completely. Break brittle into pieces.
Note: Brittle can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight between sheets of parchment paper (to prevent sticking) at room temperature.
Trisha Leonard is the editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Check out her food blog at http://www.redpenrecipes.wordpress.com.