Monday, October 11, 2010

SMS - Roasted Cashew Brittle

This week’s recipe for Sweet Melissa Sundays was chosen by Stephanie of Ice Cream before Dinner. Her selection of Roasted Cashew Brittle was welcomed with open arms in our household because it didn’t require turning on the oven (we had freaky temps in the 80s this past weekend! This is MN, not CA or AZ!!). Anyhoo. Given the amount of trouble this recipe gave to some of the SMS-ers and how different it was from my go-to brittle recipe, I decided to not take any chances of wasting ingredients, and just make my standby brittle recipe. And I hadn’t made brittle in ages, so Stephanie’s pick couldn’t have come at a better time.

Although I have lots of nut allergies, I can eat cashews. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any on hand and no time to run to the store, so I used almonds instead (I had toasted a bunch of almonds a couple weeks back for snacking and still had some left). To make the brittle even more interesting I like to add ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper for a little kick! So I made Spicy Almond Brittle instead.

Spicy golden brittle studded with toasted almonds
I've decided to include the recipe I used since so many SMS-ers had trouble with the recipe in the SMS book.
Mise en place
Spicy Almond Brittle
(adapted from the Peanut Brittle recipe in The Ultimate Candy Book by Bruce Weinstein)
***The weight measurements are my own addition***

1 cup (7 oz) sugar
1/2 cup (5.5 oz) corn syrup
1/4 cup (2 oz) water
1 cup whole (un)blanched almonds, toasted and very coarsely chopped (I cut each almond in three pieces)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp (un)salted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • Mise  en place is critical here, meaning, get all your ingredients measured and ready. You don’t want to be unwrapping and cutting into your stick of butter when the sugar’s boiling at 300F.
  • Spray a large cookie sheet or a marble slab with non-stick spray (you could use butter but I think it’s a waste of butter).
  • Have ready a heatproof silicone spatula and a cup of very hot water.
  • Spray the inside of a heavy-bottom saucepan with non-stick spray.
  • Attach a candy thermometer to your pan.
  • Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water, and bring to a boil over medium-heat. Continue to boil until the temperature reaches 290F, stirring occasionally. Contrary to what many cookbooks tell you, I like to stir my hot sugar mixture. I find that my sugar mixture caramelizes more evenly that way. Important note: after you’re done stirring, put your spatula in your cup of very hot water to dissolve the sugar. That way, when you use it to stir again later, you won’t introduce any sugar crystals.
  • Take the pan off the heat and add the chopped almonds and the rest of the ingredients. It will become hard to stir and it will look like the mixture seized. No worries.
  • Return the pan to the heat and continue stirring. The mixture will automatically loosen up as it is reheated. Once the mixture hits 290F again, take the pan off the heat and pour the mixture onto your prepared cookie sheet or marble slab. Try to pour it as thin as possible so that the nuts are in one layer. If you have a clump of nuts on top of each other, just press them down with your spatula.
  • Let the brittle cool for about 30 minutes to an hour. Then break it into irregular pieces. Careful: the edges are very sharp.
My free-form Almond Brittle on my marble slab

Bon appetit!
Final thoughts/tips:
  • This isn't the first time I've made this recipe. It made a welcome comeback in our house. Hubby enjoyed it, and so did my coworkers today. Hubby's rating: 9 out of 10.
  • One of the most important thing in this recipe is preventing sugar crystals. I've found over and over again that spraying the inside of the pan with non-stick spray does the trick every time.
  • When I make caramel, I eyeball the "amber color" I'm looking for. However, with this recipe, you really need to use your candy thermometer.
  • A big thanks to Stephanie for getting me back into candy making.
  • Don't forget to check out the SMS blog roll.


  1. Hanaa, this looks wonderful! I'll try your recipe. I've never made brittle before but have always wanted to. Have you ever had brittle on warm vanilla pudding? It's so good.

  2. Your brittle looks so good! What a delicious alternative to peanut brittle.

  3. Oh hanna, I'll try your recipe for sure! It's a delicious idea for accompany my ice cream for a little touch of crunchy :)
    I take this opportunity to tell you that I have to change my computer and, I'll not come on your blog for several weeks ...I'll
    not comment your future recipes before I buy a new computer... But, when I'll have my new computer, I will see you
    for sure :)

  4. Your brittle looks perfect. I love the addition of the spicy kick! I didn't get to bake along this week but have all the ingredients so I still plan on making this. Can't let my cashews go to waste.

  5. Hey Hanaa! Sorry to have been a stranger lately, I've fallen way behind in my blog commenting. Your brittle is gorgeous, and I'm not even a candy (unless it's of the chocolate variety) fan :)

  6. Hi Hanaa, your brittle looks terrific and those are very good instructions for making candy. After the not-so-great reviews of the recipe and my sub par candy-making abilities, I ended up doing the same thing as you and used a different recipe(the proportions in the recipe I used are much more similar to your recipe than the one in the SM book), but I didn't get around to posting. I took your idea from the P&Q section and used some cinnamon and pepper and the brittle turned out fantastic.

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  8. Thank you all so much for stopping by and your kind comments. The brittle was a big hit!

    @Vicki: I hope you try this recipe. I never tried brittle on warm pudding but the two contrasts sound like a wonderful combination.

    @Victoria: Yes, do try it. What a great idea to add it to ice cream! Yum.

    @Gloria: I agree. Cashews are too expensive to waste. Let me know how your brittle turns out.

    @Tracey: Oh I hear ya. I’m waaaaaaay behind on blog commenting. Thanks for stopping by. I will stop by your blog to see what you’re up to these days :o)

    @Margot: Glad to hear you liked my cinnamon and cayenne addition. It gives the brittle a whole dimension.

  9. This looks delicious!! I love brittle, adding spices to it is genius :)

  10. Looks great Hanna! I have a major fear when it comes to making caramel so I sat out on this one. Every single time I've tried has ended in failure.

  11. Hanaa, thanks for the link for baking obsession website. I had no idea mascarpone is so easy! Now I gotta try that one next :).

    I had wanted to make brie last year - but then realized it is harder and time consuming, what with having to age it for several months. So that's gone into the back burner.

  12. LOVE your almond brittle, looks perfect. I am chopping my cashew brittle up into small pieces and swirling into homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

    The lava cakes definitely carry a deeper chocolate flavor from what I like but you may love the flavor. I know 60% cacoa is semi-sweet for Ghirardelli (what I used this time).

  13. Thanks Hanna! Promise I'll give your recipe a try when I'm feeling extra brave! LOL

  14. Yum, looks tasty! I love that you added cinnamon to it, very seasonal. ☺

  15. I adore nut brittles, I love how you added cinnamon and cayenne to yours! Yummy!

  16. Hey Hanaa! I hope you're doing well. It looks like you are (smile). This brittle is beautiful. I could never make it though, b/c my Mom and Cauldron Boy can't not eat brittle if it's around. The would devour it all in one sitting!

  17. Looks fantastic!

    I think it would make a wonderful gift!

  18. Your brittle looks yummy and thanks for sharing the recipe. This will be on my list for holiday gifts this year.


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