Making toppings for desserts like brittles and pralines are relatively easy. They involve nuts and caramel.
But easy doesn’t mean you should hurry through the process which might lead to ‘caring less’, it means a few steps with utmost care to accomplish great results.
Brittle is a type of confection consisting of flat broken pieces of hard sugar candy embedded with nuts such as pecans, almonds, or peanuts. It has many variations around the world, such as pasteli in Greece, croquant in France, gozinaki in Georgia, chikki in India and kotkoti in Bangladesh. In parts of the Middle East, brittle is made with pistachios, while many Asian countries use sesame seeds and peanuts. Peanut brittle is the most popular brittle recipe in the US. The term brittle first appears in print in 1892, though the candy itself has been around for much longer.; Wikipedia
You should take extreme care when working with caramel – the combination of heat and sugar creates a caramel that tempts you with its nutty and sweet scents as it cooks. The temptation to taste if one yields to it can result in severe burns.
Here is a quick guide.
Begin by preparing a wax/ parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Lightly grease with butter. Ensure you have your peanuts to hand, all ready.
In a heavy-bottomed pan, sprinkle white sugar to cover the base – I used roughly half a cup.
Set it on medium heat and watch as it browns. Don’t take your eyes off as it goes from cooked to burnt in no time.
Let the sugar cook till caramelised – liquid and amber in colour. Add the peanuts and let them be coated in the syrup. I used just over half a cup as I wanted more nuts than caramel.
Turn out of the pan with a spatula, onto to the prepared sheet.
Normally, you’d spread the mix out to form a single sheet. As I wanted to crush mine up to make a topping – part brittle, part praline, I didn’t bother.
Once cool and set, put in a zippy bag and crush to your spec.
Serve alongside desserts, like ice-cream, incorporate into cookie dough, use as part of trail mix, or eat out of hand :). The only mandate is to ‘enjoy it’. Heartily.
I’d love to explore more brittles with dried fruit/ fruit purees incorporated. Like Agbalumo :).