This past weekend, we decided to embark on a "brittle" journey, subbing out the classic peanuts, for macadamia nuts, orange zest, crushed pepper corns, and dried cranberries. We may have gotten a little ahead of ourselves with the amount of ingredients, but I'll get to that later.
The basic recipe seemed easy enough, cook sugar, water and lemon juice together until it turned a deep amber color, place the whole pot in a container of ice water to cool the mix, add the nuts and spread in a greased cookie tray. I believe that in the process, we made several errors. The first was that we used a very large pot to ensure that there wouldn't be dangerous splattering of the hot sugar liquid. The unfortunate part is that because the pot was so large, the candy thermometer couldn't get a good read on the shallow pool of liquid, so we had to by color. Having never made brittle before- I'm sure we could have been better color guessers.
The second error I believe we made, I mis-read the directions (and you wonder why I rarely use recipes!) and thought that all of the bubbles had to disappear before adding the other ingredients to the cooling sugar mass. I was wrong- the cooking process just needed to stop. We added the nuts, fruit, zest, and pepper, but I feel that it was just too late- it mixed together but was a bear to remove from the pot.
The flavor of the brittle was delicious- light citrus from the orange, lovely toasty goodness from the macadamia nuts, sweet tart flavor of cranberries...however the brittle wasn't brittle. Though it stuck to everything, and formed a solid mass on every utensil we used, the actual brittle never hardened enough to lose it's full tacky texture. Each piece we broke off rendered in a "soft" break, rather than the crisp "hard" break that we were looking for. I believe that this issue comes from not cooking the sugar mix long enough, and to be honest- we probably just had too much STUFF mixed in. Unfortunately this error made it pretty impossible to eat as every bite would stick to your teeth and make the whole experience rather unpleasant. Definitely not a successful first attempt.
We are definitely going to try again, hopefully with much more brittle-y brittle!
You just needed to cook it longer. :) If your thermometer is no help, keep a glass of ice water beside the stove. When you think your caramel is getting close, use a spoon to drip a little of it into the ice water. Reach in and grab the dripping and roll it around... if it just smushes, then you're far off. If you can roll it into a little ball, it's at soft-ball stage. Once it is cooked to hard crack, the little drip will feel hard and not be pliable like it is at softball stage. This can take a while!
Flavor combo sounds really interesting though!
Great advice from Megan about testing out the sugar. I love the flavor combo, especially the addition of pepper.
The flavors sound great! It is so fun to try new recipes, even if they aren't always perfect.
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