I don’t know about you, but in this house it is never too soon to start thinking about the holidays! Not playing Christmas music or anything, but thinking about what cookies I will bake, what decorations will go up, what candies I will try this year. Not that this brittle cannot be made any time of year–it can–but it makes a particularly awesome holiday gift since it is nut (and gluten) free. I found the base recipe (which I only adapted a little) in my bible of home candy making,Chocolates and Confections at Home with The Culinary Institute of America by Peter Greweling.
I served this brittle at Sammy’s birthday party, and one mom told me it was the first time her son had gotten to try brittle as he is allergic to nuts. That made my day–that is one reason alone right there to search out cacao nibs and try this brittle.
This brittle, as with most brittles, is super easy as long as you have a thermometer. The only tricky part is spreading it quickly, because, as you can see above, it will start hardening into strands pretty fast. I like thin brittle, so I pour the brittle onto parchment paper in a half sheet pan (but the parchment itself is larger than the half sheet pan)–once it has hardened enough to not spread all over the place (a matter of moments), I slide the parchment off of the half sheet and use an oiled offset spatula to spread it to the end of the parchment paper (which is larger than the half sheet pan, allowing me to get the brittle thinner). If you don’t mind your brittle thicker, just spread it inside the pan.
A note about the “Salted:” I like my brittle just a little salty to temper the sweetness. If this bothers you, just omit the salt on top of the brittle, but do include the teaspoon of fine sea salt in the brittle.
- 1 lb (2 cups) sugar
- 4 oz (1/2 cup) water
- 12 oz (1 cup) light corn syrup
- 4 oz (1 cup) cacao nibs
- 1 t fine sea salt
- 1 oz (2 T) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 t vanilla
- 1 1/2 t baking soda
- coarse grey sea salt for sprinkling
Place a piece of parchment paper larger than the pan over a half sheet baking pan (see notes above). Lightly oil an offset spatula/palette knife.
Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a 4 qt heavy sauce pan. bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a heat-proof rubber spatula or wooden spoon. When it boils, reduce the heat to medium and cover for 4 minutes.
After the 4 minutes, remove the lid and insert a candy thermometer into the sugar. Do not stir. Let it boil and cook until it reaches a temperature of 240 F. Add the cacao nibs at this point and cook, stirring constantly, until the temperature reaches 320. The color at this point will be light amber.
At 320 F, remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the butter, salt, vanilla and baking soda. Working quickly but carefully, pour the brittle onto your prepared pan. Spread it some with the oiled knife. Within moments it will slow to sludge. At that point, remove the parchment from the pan so that you can spread the brittle out even further. When it starts to resist and get sticky and stringy at the edges, stop and sprinkle with coarse grey sea salt (to taste--it's optional). Let cool completely before breaking into irregular pieces.
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