Saturday, December 7, 2013

Macadamia, Cashew and Sea Salt Brittle

It's BAAAAACK! Are you looking for an easy holiday gift? So was I until I found this delicious brittle. Every year since 2008, I have baked gifts for friends and family. Food for me is an experience to be shared, and I love it when I can make something that my friends can enjoy. Over the years, I've made different variations on my gifted treats: brittle and truffles, brittle and cookies, brittle and cake, but there's one thing that is always the same: the MACADAMIA CASHEW & SEA SALT BRITTLE! Brittle is something my Grammy used to make (classics peanut brittle) but this brittle is on another level! It's chock-full of macadamia nuts, and cashews (although I'm sure you could make it with other nuts too). It's sweet, it's savory, it's decadent and buttery. It's easy enough to make large batches for a whole list of friends or a small party. It's got enough salt to include "salt" in the name of the brittle - so it's got to be good. This is truly delicious. Most people describe it as "addictive" and I include myself in those people, so I usually only make it once a year to avoid shoveling a whole bag into my mouth. I hope you try it and love it too. Recipe after the jump!

Macadamia, Cashew and Sea Salt Brittle (gifts 4-6)
(adapted from Macadamia Brittle with Fleur de Sel from Bon Appetit)
You will need:
  • 1 C roasted, salted macadamia nuts - chopped
  • 1 C roasted, salted cashews - chopped
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 T unsalted butter (chill and dice fine)
  • 1.5 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 C water
  • 2 C granulated sugar
  • 4 T light corn syrup
This is super easy and fun - just watch the hot sugar and you'll be fine. Start by buttering a heavy duty, non stick large baking sheet. Set aside. Combine chopped nuts, baking soda, sea salt and butter in a bowl. Set aside. In a non-stick medium sauce pan, on medium heat, heat water, sugar and corn syrup. Stir just until sugar dissolves. Do NOT stir after that point or the sugar will crystallize. Let bubble and boil over medium heat until the mixture begins to color. Swirl pan around to ensure it cooks evenly. When entire mixture is a dark amber color, remove from heat and immediately stir in nut mixture. Stir vigorously - the mixture will puff up and then come back down and start to smooth. Pour immediately onto a baking sheet and spread with a stiff spoon or silicon spatula. Let cool, sprinkle with additional sea salt to taste and break into 1-2 inch pieces. I bag mine in clear bags with waxed tissue and a red bow.


  1. My sis-in-law got me hooked on PB, swearing that the microwave technique was foolproof. Fool that I am, I found ways for it not to be - the sugar burned, it was a mess, etc, so I'm happy to see this in-a-pan recipe. As a chef, teacher, and food writer, I strive to make recipes clear and simple. So I would suggest that:
    1. the water is only needed to help dissolve the sugar. It takes a long time to boil away a whole cup of water, and the sugar can not caramelize (turn brown) as long as there's a drop of water remaining, as the boiling water can not get hotter than 212 degrees, and sugar doesn't caramelize until it reaches the 300s. So to save some time, use just 1/4 C water or so - as things heat up in the pan, the sugar will dissolve in that.
    2. sugar can be really tricky, crystallizing on you if you don't handle it right. stirring runs a risk of a little getting on the sides of the pot and beginning to crystallize, which can spread to the whole amount and you've got rock candy on your hands. To be safe, first put in the water, then the sugar, then the corn syrup; cover the pan, crank up the heat, let it boil away several minutes, during which steam will condense on the lid and drip down the sides, washing away any sugar that might otherwise crystallize. Then uncover and just watch as it begins to color.
    3. When you add the butter and soda (I also include a big dose of vanilla extract), stir it well and make sure your pan can accommodate some puffing up of the mix, as the soda bubbles to expand it. Stir all this really thoroughly before pouring out.
    4. The butter in the mix is adequate to keep the hardened brittle from sticking, so you don't really need to butter a baking sheet. I usually either just pour it right onto my heat-tolerant counter (Corian or granite are fine) or onto a sheet of parchment paper.
    5. You'll need 2 spoons for the spreading, as this stuff sticks like glue, so use the 2nd spoon to scrape it off the 1st.
    Enjoy and vary! Add a shot of bourbon, amaretto, etc. This stuff really is addictive.

  2. These are all great insights Chef George, where is your kitchen? I like the buttered pan to make things super easy to pop out. I have never tried adding vanilla but will check it out. I am going to update the recipe to talk about the stirring, because I agree that's a tricky step. Hope you are having a great holiday. Katherine