Well, Thanksgiving day came, so I woke up, set the gluhwein to simmer and realized I had nothing to do.
Because I’m so organized, I had done everything the night before.
So I made cashew brittle. Apparently.
Brittle is really easy if you have a good candy thermometer. I have a good digital candy/oil thermometer (incidentally, it is the one Alton Brown recommends) and I use it pretty often. It has a little guide that helps you with temperature:
So with that, it’s easy enough to make candy.
Cinnamon and Black Pepper Cashew Brittle
2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 ounces roasted cashews (or almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, whatever)
Clip your candy thermometer to a large saucepan (I used a little dutch oven). Make sure the end of the thermometer is not touching the bottom or sides of the pan, you want it to measure the temperature of the caramel, not the pan. Also, thoroughly oil a cookie sheet and set it aside.
On medium heat, combine the sugar, water, butter and corn syrup and melt them together. Cook them together, stirring occasionally, watching the temperature steadily rise to 300 degrees. So, many brittle recipes will have this process go really quickly, but I cook my caramel on medium to medium-low heat, because otherwise the sugars don’t have a chance to caramelize properly. You want to see the liquid start to bubble and change color, slowly, without burning it. So on medium-ish heat, it should take maybe 20-30 minutes to come to 300 degrees.
At about 200 or so degrees, stir in the pepper and cinnamon. When the mixture reaches 300 degrees, remove it from the heat and stir in the baking soda, taking some care as it will bubble a bit. Then stir in the nuts and pour it onto your greased cookie sheet. Working quickly with a silicone spatula or a greased metal spoon, spread the brittle out all over the sheet. Then, sprinkle the still wet brittle with salt.
Let it cool at least an hour, then break it into pieces. It’ll keep in an airtight container for weeks.