Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nut Brittle

I couldn't wait until closer to the holidays before I post this recipe. It's ridiculously easy to make, and only requires a handful of ingredients. This used to be a staple on the petit four plate at Boneta. The recipe was to boil sugar, water, and butter to a specific temperature. But the recipe seemed unstable at times, turning my brittle into something almost grainy, like a bad fudge :(
Caramel ready for butter

But those days are over. This recipe is fool proof and doesn't require a thermometer. So anyone can make this. The only tricky part is tempering the chocolate to spread over the brittle. The chocolate acts as a seal to protect the toffee from the humidity to keep it nice and crunchy.
Butter foaming and sizzling in the caramel.
This stuff is seriously addictive and I couldn't stop eating it. I suppose there is an upside to posting this recipe so early. You can make it a few times to perfect it before giving it away as gifts. The recipe easily doubles, just cook your caramel in a bigger pot. The instructions seem long, but it is really simple to make. Please read the recipe carefully a few times before you start. Since you're working with hot caramel, be sure that you don't burn yourself!

Nut Brittle
You can use any nut to sprinkle on the chocolate. I used hazelnuts. Make sure you have all your ingredients and equipment ready before your start.

250 gr sugar
100 gr unsalted butter, diced
Pinch of salt
250 gr dark chocolate couverture* (I used Callabeaut 70%)
100 gr toasted nuts, crushed (optional)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set over a baking rack.

In a small, heavy bottomed pot, sprinkle enough sugar to coat the bottom. Turn the heat to medium low and let the sugar start to melt. When the edges start to turn liquid, using a wooden spoon, start stirring. When the mass of caramel starts to come together and turn liquid, pour in a bit more sugar and gently stir. Repeat until all the sugar is used up. Stir gently and cook the caramel until is a deep amber colour, shiny, and the caramel loses its "sandy" texture. Be patient, this may take some time.

Add the pinch of salt, and drop in a cube of butter. It will sizzle and foam. Gently stir until the butter is fully melted and the mixture is homogenized. Repeat adding a cube of butter at a time until all of the butter is used up.

Pour the brittle onto the baking sheet and move the pot as you pour so the it doesn't end up being too thick. (Do not scrape the bottom of the pot or try to spread the brittle). Let cool completely before spreading on the chocolate.

In a plastic, microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate in 8 second bursts, stirring well after each 8 seconds. As the chocolate becomes more melted, heat it in 3 second bursts. Stop heating the chocolate when it is about 2/3 melted. Stir well to melt the last few lumps and immediately spread half the chocolate on the brittle. (If after stirring for 30 seconds and the lumps of chocolate still wont melt, heat for another 3 seconds, and stir to work out the lumps again. Then spread the chocolate on the brittle).

Sprinkle half the nuts and press gently to adhere. Put the toffee in the fridge for 3 minutes to set the chocolate. Repeat on the other side.

The toffee should ideally sit for at least 1 hour before breaking into pieces. This is to allow the chocolate time to fully set. Keep in an airtight container at room temperature.


*Couverture is a high quality chocolate with a minimum of 30% cocoa butter. It is used for candy making for its taste, and with proper tempering, it's snap and sheen. You can find it at gourmet supermarkets.

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