Every year around this time, I start making big batches of cookies, candies, and other edible gifts, package them up with festive bows and baker's twine, and give them to friends and family. This season, I made this Holiday Nut & Fruit Brittle. It's perfect for gifting and so versatile, using whatever nuts or dried fruit you have around.
Enrobed in caramelized sugar, the nuts and seeds in this Holiday Nut Brittle look like little gems. When broken up into pieces, this brittle even looks like beautiful shards of glass. I love the added color of the cranberries and earthiness of the pumpkin seeds. I've spiced up this recipe with dried rosemary, a touch of chipotle chili powder, and an extra sprinkling of fine sea salt. Feel free to swap in your favorite nuts and spices to create your own unique Holiday Nut Brittle.
Making a big batch of brittle can be fairly simple and definitely goes a long way. Spend just one afternoon stirring up a pot of caramelized sugar, and you'll have gifts for a whole crowd. Yes, sometimes cooking sugar to high temperatures over the stove can be a little nerve-wracking, but with some patience and prep work, you'll be a candy-making wizard in no time.
Whip up a couple batches, break the brittle into pieces (the fun part!), and package it all up in festive cellophane bags, mini mason jars, or whimsical paper cones.
Holiday Nut & Fruit Brittle
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (optional)
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder, or to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, diced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup cashews, chopped
1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped
Sea salt for sprinkling
Line a baking sheet with parchment or a non-stick mat. Prep all of your ingredients before starting and set aside.
Place the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Stir to combine. Heat over medium-high heat (without stirring) for about 15 minutes, or until mixture reaches 300°F, or the "hard crack" stage on a candy thermometer.
Remove from heat and carefully stir in the salt, baking soda, and spices. Add in the butter and vanilla. Stir in the nuts and seeds. Quickly but carefully pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread out into an even layer before the mixture sets. Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired.
Let cool completely before breaking up into pieces. Store in an airtight container for several weeks.