I have to get something off my chest and judge me if you will, but I can’t hide it much longer. As much as I like Hanukah and eating latkes and rugelach, I just love Christmas, even though my family doesn’t celebrate but I wish we did. I adore everything about it: the decorations, the music, the glittery window displays, the parties, the cookies and candy, the smell of the tree. I just might be the only one without Christmas fatigue, probably because I can’t fully enjoy it; I want it all the more. I’m convinced that I like eggnog more than Christmas revelers do because it’s like the forbidden fruit to me.
And despite the economy and the fact that this has been the single most challenging year of my life, I’ve completely embraced the holiday season and refuse to be sad or fretful or anxious. I’m letting myself soak in whatever the season brings; I’m going with the flow. And the flow hasn’t been at all that bad. I’m happy, I am in good health, I have lovely, caring friends and family. My tiny kitchen makes me deliriously happy and I look forward to weekend afternoons when I can leisurely cook there. I’ve sent out holiday cards and this year – they’re a doozy!
And so in preparation for this month, I’ve dog-eared recipes, purchased extra baking ingredients and even ordered quality cookie baking sheets from Amazon. And then there’s the case of the brittle.
I’ve been dying to make this brittle since Deb made is last month and generously let me sample some of it. Unsurprisingly, Deb’s creation was amazing and I helped myself to quite a few pieces, vowing to make it soon. Soon, of course, in the Sassy Radish kitchen, could take up to a month, or a bit longer, depending on the circumstances, and I was waiting for the holiday season to start with my sugar overload.
Not having to use a candy thermometer here was a huge plus and I was excited to make something with pepitas, otherwise known as raw, hulled pumpkin seeds. Before I got any further, I’m going to tell you something important: if you make this, be sure not to use non-stick cookware as it fails in the caramelization portion of the brittle-making. I will be making this in my Staub next time around in order to recreate the recipe again (and without a doubt, I will) because my brittle did not caramelize properly and I was cooking it for a loooooong time. Regardless, it was still quite yummy, and my coworkers agreed as well, consuming all of the brittle in mere days.
This year, when we are all watching our spending and trying to be frugal in this uncertain economy, the brittle could make for a fine handmade gift. And after a year like this one, everyone could you a little sweet in their life, don’t you think?
2 cups sugar
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 cups of raw, unroasted pepitas (they toast in the syrup) or 12 ounces dry-roasted salted peanuts (do not chop)
Line a 12-by-16-by-1/2-inch sheet pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with vegetable oil.
Add the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water to a large saucepan (make sure this is NOT a non-stick), and stir together until all the sugar is wet. Cook over high heat until the mixture turns a medium golden (should take no less than 10 minutes).
Immediately remove from the heat, and carefully whisk in the baking soda followed by the salt (taking care, as the caramel will rise in the pan and bubble).
Switch to a wooden or metal spoon, and fold in the peanuts. Quickly pour the mixture onto the sheet pan, and spread it out over the pan using the back of the spoon before it starts to harden. (It may not cover the whole pan.)
Once the brittle is completely cool, break it into bite-size pieces with the back of a knife or other blunt object.