Hot Pepita Brittle

This is the spicy pepita brittle that I crumbled into my Pumpkin Sorbet. It's also great on its own. You can also omit the chili flakes if you don't like it hot.

Making candy is pretty intimidating to me, partly because having to use a candy thermometer requires more precision than I'm built for, and partly because when the recipe says "don't shake or stir" all I want to do is shake and stir. In hopes of changing my ways, I recently forced myself to read up on why it's important to follow the directions, chemically speaking.... basically, with brittles, you don't want sugar crystals to form. So you have to take precautions to prevent "seed" crystals from starting an epidemic. That's why you wipe down undissolved sugar from the sides of the pot and don't stir, even if you're dying to. Adding corn syrup (glucose) adds diversity and prevents table sugar (sucrose) from forming cliques. It's not that tricky, really. It is very very burning hot, however, so be careful not to touch the hot candy and keep children (and those with poor impulse control) out of the kitchen.

Hot Pepita Brittle

  • 1.5 C pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1-4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick butter + 1/2 T butter (4.5 T total)
  • 1/8 tsp fine salt
  • 1/2 C packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1/4 C light corn syrup
  • 1/4C water
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cold water
  • nonstick spray

1. Preheat the oven to 350°

2. Spread the pepitas on a baking sheet and roast until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Remove them from the oven, turn the oven to 150° and leave the door open to let it cool down. Stir the 1/2 T butter, salt, pepper flakes and cinnamon into the nuts. Then put the nuts back in to keep warm.
3. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Butter and spray. Spray a couple of forks and a spatula too.
4. Combine the sugars, syrup, and water in a heavy unlined pot over medium high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and wipe any grains of sugar from the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush.
Place the pan back on the heat and clip on your candy thermometer. Bring to a boil. DO NOT stir or shake.
5. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix baking soda, vanilla, and the 1/2 tsp water.
6.Boil syrup to hard-crack stage 300°-310°. Stir in the 4 T butter. Keep cooking to bring the temperature back up to soft crack 270 ° -290°. Remove from heat. Stir in the soda/vanilla mixture and stir for 30 seconds (it will foam--don't worry). Stir in the warm pepitas until they are all coated.
7. Pour onto the baking sheet and use the sprayed forks to pull the candy as thin as possible. When it's cool enough to handle, use your fingers to stretch it out more. Let cool completely and then break into pieces.

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