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I’ve been making, struggling with and failing at making nut brittle the last few weeks. This is due, in most part, to my inability to find a recipe for nut brittle without corn syrup. In part it is also due to my apathy for logical research. Which, incidentally, has left me without a tiny corner of my front tooth.
Why do I want to make a nut brittle without corn syrup? Well, as far as my knowledge of corn syrup goes, it’s really not good news. I stabbed in the dark for a while, haphazardly attempting nut brittle until something stuck. Hopefully nothing more (read: sides of teeth) comes unstuck again.
This nut brittle utilises rice malt syrup in addition to brown sugar, to stop the sugar from crystalising during the cooking process. It serves as a solid, FODMAP friendly and infinitely healthier option to corn syrup. That said, there’s still a total of 1 cup of sugar in the recipe (rice malt included) so this ain’t a gym snack. Or maybe it is. It certainly is for me.
The brittle is gluten free, FODMAP friendly, and low in dairy. You could attempt to use a butter substitute in place of the butter, although I wouldn’t recommend browning it first. That would also make it vegan.
The brittle goes down perfectly as a sweet treat on it’s on, but can also be paired with these quinoa biscuit crumble and strawberry parfaits, on top of this chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake, or in place of the maple toasted pepitas in this roasted carrot and halloumi salad.
It also works a treat dipped in vegan chocolate without coconut oil, as seen below.
- I don’t use a candy thermometer. I have a strange aversion to investing in one, even though it could potentially have saved me a corner of tooth. I use the cold water test, which I will explain below.
- I have used almonds, peanuts and pepitas, although you could experiment with other nuts, seeds, or whatever you think is appropriate. The world is your oyster.
- Candy making is very burnable. Be VERY careful of your hands, skin, and miscellaneous body parts. I have one blistered finger to confirm this.
- Store this in an airtight container. Over time it will become sticky, kind of like honeycomb. You can also store it in the freezer – it’s delicious cold, and the temperature serves to keep it super crunchy.
THE COLD WATER TEST
The cold water test involves dropping a little bit of hot candy into cold (not freezing) water, and observing the state of it in the water. For our purposes, there is only two states we’re looking for: soft crack and hard crack stages. For all other purposes, this article gives a good rundown.
When you spoon a little candy into the cold water, it should form little threads that are somewhat pliable to the touch.
Hard crack is what we’re looking for. The hard crack stage is when the little threads formed after you drop a bit of candy into the water are hard and brittle. They will snap if you try to alter their shape. This means the sugar is ready to make brittle with.
TO MAKE THE NUT BRITTLE WITHOUT CORN SYRUP:
- 1 cup nuts and/or seeds of choice
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar (100g) ((you can also use white sugar for a lighter coloured, less caramelly brittle)
- 1/2 cup rice malt syrup
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes (I use the higher amount)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons (40g) butter (omit for a vegan option)
- OPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1-4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (it will be a very packed/delicious brittle with 4 tablespoons, see pictures) hemp seeds
- If you haven’t already, toast your nuts. I toast mine in an 180 degree oven for 10 minutes.
- Measure out the vanilla bean paste, sea salt flakes and baking soda. Spray a large baking tray with oil, and cover with baking paper. The oil spray stops the paper slipping around while you’re handling hot brittle. You can also warm your baking tray in the oven if you like – this will make spreading the brittle easier, as the residual heat from the tray will stop it from hardening while you spread it.
- In a large, heavy bottomed frypan or saucepan, combine the brown sugar, rice malt syrup and water, and stir to combine. I used my cast iron pan with a plastic spatula in each test and got great results. Keep a large glass of cold water nearby. You’ll be using it to test the candy for readiness.
- Place the saucepan over a medium heat, and allow to begin cooking.
- While the candy is cooking, place the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Allow it to cook until it turns brown and is flecked with golden dark bits. Remove from the heat. You can also use just melted butter, if you’re not into brown butter.
- Your candy should be ready for it’s first test now. Drop a little in the water, and if it forms little strings that are solid and either snap or nearly snap when you apply pressure, it’s ready. See notes on cold water test if you’re confused rn.
- When the candy is at hard crack stage, turn the heat off, and CAREFULLY BUT QUICKLY stir in the butter completely, then vanilla bean paste, sea salt and baking soda. Stir to combine (the mixture should fluff up) and then quickly stir through the nuts. I can’t overstate how nasty hot sugar can be, so CAREFULLY pour the brittle onto your baking paper, and use the spatula to spread it.
- If you like (I didn’t bother) you can use gloves to pull the edges of the brittle after a few minutes. This will create a thinner brittle. I am lazy so I did not.
- Allow the brittle to cool until firm – roughly an hour. Store in an airtight container, or in the freezer, or both.