Looking for a quick-and-easy dessert recipe right before Shabbos yesterday, I decided on something candy-like, say, a nut brittle. I had some raw natural almonds in the house, plenty of white sugar, corn syrup and a thermometer. And that, plus maybe 15 minutes, is just about all you need!
First, I toasted the almonds up in the oven, because it really helps intensify the flavour. No salt or oil; just almonds in a tinfoil pan. It won’t help bring back rancid almonds, but it can really perk up the ones that taste like they’ve been on a supermarket shelf in a plastic container for a bit too long. I also cut the almonds in half, because a whole almond is overwhelming in brittle, in my opinion.
Here’s the full recipe for the brittle – basically, you bring sugar and corn syrup, with the nuts, up to 300° (forget about the “drop” method or any other you’ve read about for checking the temperature – just use a thermometer!), add a bit of fat (the recipe calls for butter; I used coconut oil), baking soda and (optionally; it’s not in the recipe) a dot of vanilla. Use a big pot, and jump back when you add the baking soda – that’s how sponge toffee is made, and it really does pouf up quite a bit.
Then, pour it all out on a prepared piece of tinfoil – you’ll only have a few seconds to spread it – and let the candy set. If you did the temperature right, it’s all about chemistry: it WILL set rock-hard, 100% of the time (though I cannot vouch for different elevations because I know high altitude does messy things with temperatures and food chemistry). You can store it in a plastic bag for long-term or gift-giving, but it didn’t last that long around here…
Because you use baking soda, the candy is “lighter” (ie easier to bite into) than most homemade hard candy. It also gives the finished brittle a lighter, creamy appearance, which is matched by the small amount of fat in the form of butter or coconut oil (no margarine, pretty please???).
This might also be a nice addition (made ahead of time and broken up into teeny weeny pieces) to a “premium” pareve homemade ice cream, or just crumbled over top at serving time. If you had some to spare… which around here, we probably never would.
(full disclosure: the picture at the top is NOT my own, but the one at right really, truly is… it just all got eaten before I could take a really good one of it broken into pieces)